The chemistry behind detergents can be complex and hard for many people to understand, so this is a very basic and perhaps over simplified explanation. for a more in depth understanding Wikipedia is a good place to look.
The component in detergent that acts as wetting agent, emulsifier, foaming agent, and dispersant is called a surfactant. It's job is to penetrate the surface being cleaned and release the dirt from whatever it may be attached to. After releasing the dirt it must keep the dirt suspended in water and prevent it from reattaching to anything else. In order to accomplish this it must be water soluble and insoluble at the same time.
If you were to put some oil into a bowl of water you would see that it forms beads and floats on top. Oil is insoluble in water but it may surprise you to learn that oil is in fact the main ingredient in detergent. By adding hydrogen to the oil it becomes water soluble and insoluble at the same time. This is done using lye, also known as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.
Because detergent is primarily made of oil, it has some of the same characteristics as oil. For instance if you put oil on your hand, dirt will stick to it and it doesn't rinse off easily. This is also true of detergent except that it will rinse off more easily than oil.
Detergents are made of surfactants, and the surfactants used in virtually all detergents are synthetic (man made). There is a wide array of different surfactants, here is a list of surfactants and related chemistry used in detergents:
Anionic surfactants, Alkyl benzene sulphonates, Olefin sulphonates, Paraffin sulphonates, Sulphonated methyl esters, Sulphonated fatty acids, Sulphosuccinates, Alkyl sulfates, Alkyl ether sulfates, lauryl sulfates, Phosphate asters, Carboxylates, Soap, Ether Carboxylates, Acyl Sarcosinates, Alkyl phthalamates, Isethionates, Taurates, Non-ionic surfactants, nonylphenol ethoxylate, Alkylphenol ethoxylates, Fatty alcohol ethoxylates, Polyoxethylene ester of fatty acids, Methyl ester ethoxylates, Polyalkylene oxide block co-polymers, Amine ethoxylates, Fatty Alkanolamides, Amine Oxides, Esters of polyhydric alcohols and fatty acids, Glycol esters, Glycerol esters, Poly glycerol esters, Anhydrohexitol esters, Polyoxyalkylene polyol esters, Alkyl poly glucosides, Gemini surfactants, Amphoteric surfactants, Amino propionates, iminodipropionates, Imidazoline-based, betaine, Silicone surfactants, Polymerizable surfactants, Fluorinated surfactants
At Naturell we do not use any of the above mentioned chemicals or surfactants, we use only bio-surfactants.
Naturell 4701 Patrick Henry Dr Bldg 6 Santa Clara, CA 95054
809 Laurel St #81 San Carlos, CA 94070
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