Chemistry Corner: Detergency

Detergency is defined as the ‘cleansing quality/power’ in a process that involves water and energy (mechanical or thermal). Detergent surfactants are water-soluble cleansing assistants that combine with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble and differs from soap in not forming a scum with the salts in hard water. Energy is required to facilitate the removal of dirt from a surface, therefore the role of surfactants is to reduce the energy required to achieve cleaning. Read More

Chemistry Corner – Foaming

A foam is produced by the distribution of a gas in a liquid. Without a surfactant to stabilise the foam, the liquid and gas would quickly separate causing the foam to collapse. This is primarily caused by drainage of liquid within the film, which causes thinning and the eventual collapse of the foam. Surfactants therefore act at the liquid, gas, or solid gas interface to stabilise foam to reduce surface tension.   Read More

Chemistry Corner – Wetting

Wetting is the ability of a liquid droplet to spread over a surface. Wetting agents are also known as surfactants – surface active agents.

Wetting agents are substances that reduce the surface tension of water to allow it to spread droplets onto a surface, increasing the abilities of a liquid. Lowering the surface tension lowers the energy required to spread droplets onto a film, thus weakening the cohesive properties of the liquid and strengthening its adhesive properties, increasing its penetrating, and spreading qualities through previously water repellent surfaces. Read More