People often think of chemicals as things used only in industrial or complex scientific settings, but the reality is that chemicals are important ingredients in nearly every product we use in our everyday lives. A major example of this is detergents, in which aromatic sulfonic acid is most used. Let’s take a closer look at how aromatic sulfonic acids are used in detergents to help you understand what makes them such important ingredients.
How Sulfonic Acid Is Applied
The first thing to know about sulfonic acids is that they create surfactants. Surfactants are molecules that group together in highly nonpolar and highly polar groups. A recognizable surfactant we use every day is soap, which is derived from fatty acids. Sulfonic acids have quickly become the preferred ingredients in modern society to efficiently create soaps, detergents, and other cleaning chemicals.
The Role of Sulfonic Acid
To be more specific on how aromatic sulfonic acids are used in detergents, their key role is to act as a catalyst within the detergent. A catalyst plays an important role in accelerating a chemical reaction, with far less energy needed to complete the reaction. Catalysts manage this by acting as substitutes for the energy typically needed to start a chemical reaction. Unlike startup energy, the catalyst survives the chemical reaction while remaining completely unchanged.
The Effects of Sulfonic Acid
So what benefits make sulfonic acid such an effective catalyst and allow it to replace fatty acids in modern products? Most notably, sulfonic acid is effective at breaking down the tension between water and contaminants such as dirt, grease, and grime. This makes it an incredibly powerful cleanser capable of eliminating difficult stains and providing more than a surface-level clean—it also eliminates bacteria and other microbial substances. On top of all that, sulfonic acid is one of the cheapest surfactants available to the washing industry, so using it as an ingredient in detergents and other cleaning products is just good business sense.