Airedale Chemical

Types of Surfactants

31st January 2018

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Surfactants by definition are active on surfaces or interfaces and able to modify their properties. An interface is the junction between two incompatible phases usually, liquid, solid or gas. Surfactants can reduce the surface tension of a liquid making it more likely to spread across a surface or reduce the tension between two incompatible liquids making them easier to mix.

Your application requirements will drive the selection process of the surfactant you require whether it be low foam, high foam, thickened, pH or substantive.

Surfactants are primarily used in detergents to remove dirt from skin, clothes and other essentials within the home.

Anionic surfactants

Surfactants containing anionic (negatively charged ions) functionality mean they are insoluble at low temperature levels and have hydrophobic anion effects when dissolved in warmer water.

Common uses for anionic surfactants include soaps, silicones and alkyl sulfonates

Anionic surfactants are most commonly used in the manufacturing of cleaning and detergent products but are also used in other industries such as textiles, agriculture and construction for applications such as dyeing, bleaching, demulsifying, corrosion prevention and as a fuel additive.

Non-ionic surfactant

A surfactant which has no ionization when dissolved in water is a non-ionic surfactant and is therefore highly stable and has a limited reaction to acids and strong electrolytes.

Non-ionic surfactants make up almost 50% of surfactant production and have better emulsifying qualities than anionic surfactant which makes them great for removing both oily and organic dirt.

Cationic Surfactants

Cationic surfactants are manufactured in smaller quantities than other surfactants but they are the ideal surfactant for products such as fabric softeners, as when they are combined with anionic surfactants they help to break down stains and dirt.

Amphoteric Surfactant

A surfactant that combines the properties of both anionic and cationic surfactants. These types of surfactants are fairly new to the market and are still undergoing development, and over the past few years they have become surfactants that have a number of beneficial qualities including:

These qualities amongst many others make amphoteric surfactants suitable for use in shampoos, dyes, pharmaceuticals and many more.

As experts in chemical manufacturing and supplies, Airedale Chemical are perfectly placed to not only provide you with existing surfactants but to aid you in the research and development of new bespoke solutions.

Please explore our range of Surfactants which provides appearance, description and application information for each.

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