Shampoo Chemistry

Ever look at that long list of ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle? Did you know some of those chemicals are used in engine degreasers as well as use as a laxative? One chemical even increases the risk of canker sores. Here’s a low-down on the chemicals common in shampoos:

Sodium laureth sulfate: CH3(CH2)10CH2(OCH2CH2)nOSO3NaC11+nH23+4nNaO4+nS; This chemical is a very inexpensive detergent. It is known to cause an increase in canker sores in people who are prone to sores. Although sodium laureth sulfate isn’t a carcinogen, it is known to contain trace amounts of 1,4-dioxane, which is known to be carcinogenic. Don’t worry though! The amounts are so small that it is unlikely it will cause any harm.

Sodium lauryl sulfate: NaC12H25SO4; This chemical is a detergent just like sodium laureth sulfate. It occurs in small amounts in shampoo. It is also used in engine degreasers and car wash soaps. Medically is it used as a laxative, although rarely.

Ammonium chloride: NH4Cl; Ammonium chloride is used in everything from soldering iron cleaner, to an additive in cattle feed. Sometimes it is even used in explosives.

Ammonium lauryl sulfate: C12H29NO4S; This is one cool chemical. Ammonium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant that disrupts the surface tension of water. The hydrogen bonding between water molecules is agitated, and the water molecules align themselves along sulfate spheres. What does all this mean? Your shampoo will foam really well, whisking away dirt and oils.

Fragrance: Every shampoo contains a dash of fragrance (basically a cologne or perfume) to keep your hair smelling delightful. Every shampoo has it’s own secret fragrance and the compound formulas vary greatly. An interesting fact is that some fragrances come from animals such as sperm whales and beavers. Even more interesting is that petrified excrement is also used as a source of fragrance.

So, next time you’re in the shower and you read your shampoo bottle you’ll know what some of the chemicals are and what other uses they have. Leave us a comment if you find some other common ingredients and their uses.

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *