Classification of Surfactants

Soaps and detergents are formulated products designed to meet various cost and performance standards. The formulated products contain many components, such as surfactants to tie up unwanted materials (commercial detergents usually contain only 1030% surfactants), builders or polyphosphate salts to improve surfactant processes and remove calcium and magnesium ions, and bleaches to increase reflectance of visible light. They also contain various additives designed to remove stains (enzymes), prevent soil re-deposition, regulate foam, reduce washing machine corrosion, brighten colors, give an agreeable odor, prevent caking, and help processing of the formulated detergent [18].

The classification of surfactants in common usage depends on their electrolytic dissociation, which allows the determination of the nature of the hydrophilic polar group, for example, anionic, cationic, nonionic, and amphoteric. As reported by Greek [18], the total 1988 U.S. production of surfactants consisted of 62% anionic, 10% cationic, 27% nonionic, and 1% amphoteric.

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