What Is A Surfactant And How Does It Work With Detergents?

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What Is A Surfactant And How Does It Work With Detergents?

What is a surfactant and how does it work? In a nutshell, a surfactant is a compound of chemicals that lowers the surface tension of a liquid, thereby making it “wetter”. How does this then, work with detergents?

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What is a surfactant and how does it work? In a nutshell, a surfactant is a compound of chemicals that lowers the surface tension of a liquid, thereby making it “wetter”. How does this then, work with detergents?

Since a detergent’s job is to remove dirt and the like, a surfactant helps spread the water out, allowing it to interact more with the dirt, which is often organic and therefore, oily in nature. As the saying goes, “oil and water don’t mix”, and this is precisely because of the surface tension of any kind of water. With a surfactant added into the mix, the water loses a bit of that tension, allowing for water to get into the stain and allow it to be washed away, thus leaving clothes clean and stain free.

What is a surfactant and how does it reduce surface tension? There’s a long, chemical and technical explanation to that, but an easy definition is that surfactants do their job through a process called adsorption. Adsorption refers to when atoms and molecules accumulate on the surface of a material, which creates a thin film of sorts on the material – and in the case of surfactants used in detergent applications, on the water. This film is the main thing responsible for lowering the surface tension of the water, which is then enabled to interact with the and clean a surface that was previously dirtied by it through scrubbing or even just through soaking. The stain is then dissolved in the water, and through washing and rinsing, both the stain and the surfactant are removed from the original surface, making everything clean again.

What is a surfactant and are there many kinds of it? In fact, there are indeed several types of surfactants, which many companies use to give consumers specialized detergents for particular stains like ink or oil and grease.

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