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Surfactant – Where to Buy in the USA

You have come to a crossroads in your product development. All your hard work has boiled down to the realization that a surface or phase requires some transition. You have recognized that it is time to add a surfactant to your process.

Surfactants' structure allows them to interact with surfaces in a unique manner that cannot be accomplished via ordinary compounds. Surfactants can improve the cleaning of equipment, increase mixing between phases and even enhance production speeds. While your research tells you that a surfactant will increase production levels and/or create a better product, there is a lingering question regarding these amazing additives. Where does one buy a surfactant?

This may seem like a logical question, but before you jump into the deep end regarding surfactants and "where to buy in USA", there are several key criteria one must first consider.

This may seem like a straightforward question to answer, but it is a very important one if you look to make changes to your product. Understanding who your customers are and how they intend to use your product will help to narrow the types of surfactants you can use.

For obvious reasons, shampoos for babies and cars are subjected to a completely different set of criteria and regulations. Identifying which sector your product falls under will help navigate any foreseeable hurdles you may encounter while choosing the best surfactant for your process.

Here are a few common market segments that you may want to consider when understanding the regulatory limitations surrounding surfactants. If you have specific questions regarding any of these market segments and the appropriate selection of a surfactant, feel free to contact one of Oxiteno's experts in this field.

  1. Oil & Gas
  2. Home Care
  3. Institutional & Industrial Cleaning
  4. Food & Beverage
  5. Agriculture
  6. Personal Care
  7. Other

This is an important question as it pertains to which type of surfactant to use and how it will be used in your process. There is a lot of literature regarding the different types of surfactants and their potential uses, far beyond the scope of this helpful entry on buying surfactants, so we will focus here on the 'how will it be used in my process' question.

Is the surfactant being used to help clean a commercial kitchen stovetop or is it being used to emulsify a tangy vinaigrette salad dressing? Considering whether the surfactant will be consumed directly or indirectly by your customer is one of the many things that will affect your decision on which surfactant to purchase. Knowing where in your process the surfactant will be added and how the addition of the surfactant will affect the use of your product will greatly help to clarify the possibilities.

A great example of this is using the Safer Choice label on qualifying cleaning products. Safer Choice labels are designed to help consumers chose products that are made with ingredients (i.e., surfactants) that meet EPA's stringent health and environmental criteria. To obtain the Safe Choice label, all ingredients in a cleaning formulation must comply with the Safer Choice Standard, which uses a thorough screening process to identify the safest ingredients for our homes and environments.

The Safer Choice Standard and the Criteria for Safer Chemical Ingredients are protective and address a broad range of potential toxicological effects, including, carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive or developmental toxicants; persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals; systemic or internal organ toxicants; asthmagens; sensitizers; and chemicals on authoritative lists of chemicals of concern. Additionally, chemicals that exhibit endocrine activity are carefully evaluated, and those associated with toxicological hazards are not allowed. Impurities can be present in chemicals that are used in Safer Choice products; however, Safer Choice limits impurities to no more than 0.01 % in the final product. It should be noted that impurities are not included in the safer chemicals list.

Other market segments have similar vetting process for ingredients, most of which focus on the health and safety of the consumer, as well as the ingredient's impact on the environment.


Once you have answered the previous questions and have identified your market segment, how your product is intended to be used and how the surfactant will be used in your process, you will have a better idea of what regulatory guidelines must be met for your intended use.

For example, if you want to develop a household cleaner, and one of your end goals is to have your product labeled with the Safer Choice Label, then you can use resources such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), and the CleanGredients Database to easily guide you to choosing a surfactant. A formulator can also use the Household & Commercial Products Association's (HCPA) Ingredient Dictionary to identify alternative ingredients based on function, chemical class, current product uses or material sources for their product development.

Furthermore, if your end use is as excipients in dietary supplements, drug substances, or medical devices, one source you can check is the National Formulary (NF) website to see any regulations regarding your final product.

Also, if you need to add a surfactant for a product whose intended use in crop or non-crop protection, there are certain guidelines you must consider. Agrochemicals used for crop protection are heavily regulated by the EPA. However, keep in mind, it is not only important to know if your product will be used for crop protection but also how your product will be used. Surfactants used as tank mix adjuvants (no pesticide present) are subjected to different regulations compared to surfactants that are directly added to pesticide containing formulations. It is important to ensure that surfactants that are used in pesticide formulations for crop protection are listed on EPA inert ingredient list.


This is always a difficult question to predict, but a simple cost/benefit analysis will help in your decision making. When outlining the benefits (and costs) of surfactants, it is always important to understand both the direct and indirect effects that the addition of a surfactant may have. Product performance, commercial price, manufacturing reliability, regulatory issues, equipment 'down-time' and production outputs are just a few of the many areas that need to be addressed in the cost/benefit analysis of adding a surfactant to your process.

In a purely hypothetical scenario, say you are making shoe polish, and want to create a more appealing, homogeneous product that is easy to apply. The addition of surfactant could help with the homogeneity by helping to effectively disperse the pigments in the polish. You find that increasing their dispersion in the polish helps during application too, making for a polish that goes on smooth and lasts a long time. Great, two benefits for the price of one surfactant!  If you feel that these new shoe-polish properties will help the sales of your product, then it's time for you to buy a surfactant!


Once you have answered all the questions above and identified which surfactants are approved for your purposes, we hope your search of "where to buy surfactants" leads you back to Oxiteno!

Browse Oxiteno's product selection and request data sheets for more technical specifications to help you narrow down which surfactant meets the full criteria of your end use needs. Many of Oxiteno's products are already listed on CleanGredients, and we have effectively provided sustainable solutions across all product lines as witnessed by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

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