Surfactants |


You may find that in our laundry & cleaning department we mention surfactants a lot.   A surfactant is an amphiphillic organic compound, one which has two ends a head and a tail. The head is water loving (hydrophilic) and the tail water-hating (hydrophobic), the head therefore attracted to water, the tail repelled simultaneously attaching itself to oil and grease.

These opposition forces of hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups loosen dirt and suspend it in water.  Literally a Surfactant is a Surface Acting Agent and reduces the surface tension of water.  The term was first used in 1950 by Antara Products.
Surfactants can be natural (from vegetable or animal) or synthetic (from petro chemicals).  Surfactants have a number of applications including the following.
  • Detergents  - for cleansing
  • Wetting agents - in perms
  • Foaming agents - for shampoos
  • Emulsifiers - in creams and lotions
  • Conditioning agents - in skin and hair-care products
  • Solubilizers - for perfumes and flavors
Some surfactants are harmful to the environment, being toxic to animals, humans and eco systems although they are still routinely deposited into our water systems and on our land .  Many washing product now use enzymes which are environmentally more neutral.

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