Soaps & Surfactants
Surfactants (surface-active agents) are the “unsung heroes” of our daily lives. All detergents, and many products which are applied to a surface (such as polishes, fabric cleaners, paints and lubricants) contain them! The surfactant molecule contains a water (or surface)-loving head and an oil-loving tail, enabling it to perform important functions that would be impossible without this dual character, such as
- Dispersion of oils, bitumen, resins and other insoluble ingredients in water
- Removal of oil, dirt and grease from end products like textiles, paper, metals
- Formation of a protective coating on metal, wood, textile and many other materials
- Formation of a lubricating layer on metal and glass
The oldest and simplest surfactant is soap, already known and used by the Ancient Egyptians. Soap is of course still widely used as a detergent and cleaning product, though during the course of the 20th century more effective and multi-functional surfactants have been developed, based on both mineral and plant oils. Our vegetable oils can be used directly in the production of some specific surfactants. In others, they must be converted first to fatty acids or alcohols.
Types of surfactants
- Betaines: Mild surfactants used widely in personal care products such as shampoos and shower gels. Our lauric oil products, especially coconut oil, are a key raw material for betaines
- Alkanolamides: Foam boosting surfactants which also assist in fragrance solubilisation for personal care and household detergent products. Again, our lauric oil products are key raw materials in their production.
- Soap: Bar soap made by traditional methods uses vegetable oils as a starting point; palm oil and palm kernel or coconut oil are blended in a ratio of about 4:1 and then converted to soap by the addition of caustic soda and water. Natural liquid hand soaps are made by saponification of olive, sunflower and other liquid oils with potash, sometimes also in combination with a lauric oil. We also offer technical grade liquid and solid fatty acids for the production of industrial soaps.
- Emulsifiers: Our hydrogenated vegetable oils are used for the production of emulsifiers such as GMS (glycerol monostearate). Being based on edible-grade vegetable oils, they are also suitable for the manufacture of food-grade emulsifiers.
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