The word “Surfactant” is a contraction of the three words “Surface Active Agents.” What is a surfactant? Surfactants are materials that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid. In the general sense, any material that affects the interfacial surface tension, can be considered a surfactant, but in the practical sense, surfactants may act as wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants.
Surface active agents play an important role as cleaning, wetting, dispersing, emulsifying, foaming and anti-foaming agents in many practical applications and products, including: paints,emulsions adhesives, inks, biocides(sanitizers), shampoos, toothpastes, firefighting (foams), detergents, insecticides, deinking of recycled papers, ski waxes, spermicides (nonoxynol-9).
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