What Can I Use As a Non-Ionic Surfactant?

What Can I Use As a Non-Ionic Surfactant

Non-ionic surfactants come in a wide variety of types and can be used to enhance the cleansing power of products. The SLES surfactant is more surface active than SDS and is therefore preferred for sensitive skin. In addition, non-ionic surfactants should be similar in their apolar tail, such as linear lauryl ether (C12(EO)5-OH). The HLB of the surfactant mixture should match the required HLB of the oil.



One of the most common non-ionic surfactants is polyoxyethylene, which is mainly water soluble and has many applications in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. This type of surfactant is considered a relatively safe and non-irritating ingredient for use in detergents and other formulations. Also known as polyol, polyoxyethylene is a good choice for a variety of applications, such as oil softening for fibers, penetrant, leveling agent, and emulsifier.

The main difference between ionic and non-ionic surfactants lies in their molecular structures. Ethylene oxide is hydrophilic and binds water molecules with its ether-bonded oxygen atoms. The resulting lipophilic surface area allows ethylene oxide to interact with water molecules more efficiently. The hydrophilic tail decreases as the ether-bonded oxygen atoms separate from the hydrogen-bonded water molecules. The resulting hydrophobic properties of ethylene oxide diminish as it reaches the cloud point, which occurs when it reaches the ethylene oxide molecular structure.

The non-ionic properties of polyoxyethylene make it a good candidate for cleaning formulations at elevated temperatures. The surfactant’s water solubility is derived from petroleum. The cost of production of non-ionic surfactants is highly volatile, which may provide added motivation for the search for alternatives. For example, sugars from biomass could replace EO-based IRO Surfactant.

Polyethoxylated castor oil

Polyethoxylated castor oil is a nonionic surfactant obtained by ethoxylation of castor oil. This hydroxylated fatty acid carbon chain can be used as a solubilizer, emulsifier, and lubricant. Polyethoxylated castor oil is used in the formulation of aqueous solutions.

Polyethoxylated castor oil is a natural nonionic surfactant with many applications in the personal care industry. Its diverse properties make it an effective nonionic surfactant for cleaning and dispersing many organic compounds. 


A non-ionic surfactant is a mixture of more than one water-insoluble ingredient. This mixture may include alkoxylated castor oil, hydroxypropylcellulose, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, and polyethylenevinyl alcohol. As the concentration of the surfactant increases, so does the stability of the pesticide-emulsion. The size of the oil droplets increases as well.