Functions of Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate is an anionic surfactant. This means it lowers the surface tension of water, making the water spread more easily. Surfactants are also called wetting agents, and are said (somewhat paradoxically) to make water "wetter". Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, like any other surfactant, makes a good base for cleansers because of the way it disrupts the hydrogen bonding in water. Hydrogen bonding is the primary contributor to the high surface tension of water.The water molecules around the micelle arrange themselves around the polar heads, but this disrupts their hydrogen bonding with the water surrounding them. The overall effect of having these micelles in an aqueous (water) environment is that the water becomes more able to penetrate things like cloth fibers or hair, and also becomes more readily available to solvate anything coming off the before mentioned substance.
When Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) is reacted with ethylene oxide, the result is the larger molecule ammonium laureth sulfate. This larger molecule has the same detergent and surfactant qualities, but is larger, so it does not penetrate the skin and hair as easily. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate is an ideal surfactant for use in acidic shampoos and other personal care formulations such as hand soaps and bath products. It can also be used in many detergent applications. It has an excellent viscosity response when formulated correctly with alkanolamides and amphoterics, and it generates large quantities of foam. Since it is a high foaming product, it can be used in rug and upholstery shampoos. Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate will give off an ammonia odor when the pH is alkaline.
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