How Do Surfactants Work?

Are you wondering how do surfactants work, and what the best type of surfactant is for your intended purposes? You should first understand that while there are four different types of surfactants, surfactants as a whole are used to lower surface tension between liquids in order to break up and remove impurities. Surfactants are also known as surface active agents, and are used as wetting, foaming, emulsifying, anti-foaming, and dispersing agents in a wide variety of products. Surfactants are able to disrupt the surface tension that exists between mediums to create these effects to make products like soaps, detergents, paints, adhesives, gels, fabric softeners, and other consumer products effective. The four different types of surfactants differ in composition and charge, making each surfactant disrupt surface tension in a different manner. 

What are the four types of surfactants and what are they used for?

  • Nonionic – Primarily used as wetting agents, nonionic surfactants are present in coatings and liquid products. Common uses are in cleaning agents, polishes, and as fragrance carries in perfumes and air freshener. 
  • Anionic – Anionic can also be used as wetting agents.  This type of surfactant is regularly used in detergents, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap. Its primary function is to emulsify dirt and impurities to allow the contaminants to wash away easily with water.  
  • Cationic – In light of the current global issues, Cationic surfactants are important to understand, as they have the ability to disturb cell membrane of viruses and bacteria. These surfactants carry a positive charge and are used in antibacterial and antifungal products to deliver the active agents to the cell. 
  • Amphoteric – These surfactants have a quick drying quality and are often used in paints, plastics, and latex products to aid in fast drying and coagulating. 

How Do Surfactants Work & Where Can You Find Them?

If you would like more information on how surfactants work or need help finding the best surfactants for your needs, contact Ecolink here! Ecolink is a trusted provider of high quality chemicals and solvents who is ready to help you understand and find the right chemical products for your processes. Call Ecolink today to learn more!