What is Sodium Laureth Sulfate ( SLES ) and How to Buy SLES
What is SLES?
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate is an odorless chemical with multiple uses. The most popular use is as a surface-active agent, as a detergent in personal care products and for wetting and cleaning in the textile industry.
- There is often confusion sodium laureth sulfate vs sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is also known as sodium dodecyl sulfate. Using this name can reduce confusion with SLES. SLS is a surfactant that helps create foaming in water and clean various products.
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is very similar to SLS, but a key difference is the addition of ‘ether.’ The joining of lauryl and ether make the word laureth. Although the chemicals and uses are similar. SLES is a much stable and safer chemical. This is because SLES is derived from SLS by adding ingredients such as coconut oil, which reduces the chemicals potency.
- This article focuses only on SLES as this is one of the key export products worldwide.
- Here is a Camachem video explaining the key features and uses of SLES 70.
What are sodium laureth sulfate uses?
- SLES uses are numerous but largely concentrated in the detergent and cleaning product ranges. For example, SLES is used in shower gels, hand wash, dish washing, shampoo, and various home and personal care products.
- SLES can also be used in other industries such as printing and dyeing but not as often as in soap industries.
What does sodium laureth sulfate do?
- SLES is usually used for rinse off products and for detergents due to it great ability for emulsification and foaming.
Is sodium laureth sulfate bad?
- One can often find sodium laureth sulfate in shampoo and other household products. Whereas there it is common to ask is sodium laureth sulfate bad for hair, at the moment evidence that SLES is bad for hair by itself is inconclusive.
- Although SLES and SLS may cause irritations to the skin and eyes, SLES is much less of an irritant.
How is SLES manufactured?
- SLES is manufactured through ethoxylation of dodecyl alcohol. The main raw materials are usually palm oil or coconut oil.
- Although SLES is available in 28%, the most common export product is SLES 70% or sometimes referred to as SLES n70.
What drives demand for SLES?
- Since SLES is a relatively cheap raw material for the soap industry, the main demand driver has been the global demand for soap and detergents.
- Given that SLES has little risk and is readily available, more countries and manufacturers have no plan of using substitute products.
- This means the usage of SLES will continue to grow.
How is SLES exported?
SLES is usually packed in:
- Steel or plastic 170kg drums (see picture below), a plastic lining is usually added inside to prevent contamination of the chemical by the drum.
- The chemical can also be packed in IBCs (1000kg bulk containers) if the client requires it.
- The drums are then packed into 20ft containers.
Camachem's SLES plastic drums packed in 20ft container ready for export.
Which countries manufacture SLES in bulk?
- The main producers can be found in India, China, Malaysia and Egypt.
How long does it take to produce a container load?
- Typically 1 day, but if there are many orders may take a week.
Camachem's SLES plastic drums awaiting loading before export
Where to buy SLES?