Fatty alcohols (or long-chain alcohols) are usually high-molecular-weight, straight-chain primary alcohols, but can also range from as few as 4–6 carbons to as many as 22–26, derived from natural fats and oils. Some commercially important fatty alcohols are lauryl, stearyl, and oleyl alcohols. They are widely used in industry. As with fatty acids, they are often referred to generically by the number of carbon atoms in the molecule, such as "a C12 alcohol", that is an alcohol having 12 carbons. Fatty alcohols are mainly used in the production of detergents and surfactants. They are components also of cosmetics, foods, and as industrial solvents. Due to their amphipathic nature, fatty alcohols behave as nonionic surfactants. They find use as co-emulsifiers, emollients and thickeners in cosmetics and food industry. About 50% of fatty alcohols used commercially are of natural origin, the remainder being synthetic.
Ethoxylated Fatty Alcohols:
Alcohol ethoxylates are often converted to related species called ethoxysulfates. Alcohol ethoxylates and ethoxysulfates are surfactants, used widely in cosmetic and other commercial products. Industrial ethoxylation is primarily performed upon fatty alcohols in order to generate fatty alcohol ethoxylates (FAE's), which are a common form of nonionic surfactant. Alcohol ethoxylates (AE) and alcohol ethoxysulfates (AES) are surfactants found in products such as laundry detergents, surface cleaners, cosmetics, agricultural products, textiles, and paint.
Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants.
Surfactants play an important role as cleaning, wetting, dispersing, emulsifying, foaming and anti-foaming agents in many practical applications and products, including detergents, fabric softeners, emulsions, soaps, paints, adhesives, inks, anti-fogs, ski waxes, snowboard wax, deinking of recycled papers, in flotation, washing and enzymatic processes, laxatives.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES)