SLES known as Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate can also be called Sodium Alkyl Ether Sulfate is a surfactant and anionic detergent that can be found in a lot of personal care products such as toothpaste, shampoos, and soaps. It is also applied for industrial use. SLES is a cost-efficient and quite effective foaming agent. Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, and SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) are surfactants applied for use in a lot of cosmetic products for their emulsifying and cleaning properties.

SLES chemical formula is CH3(CH2)11(OCH2CH2)nOSO3Na. Oftentimes the n represents the number specified in the chemical name, such as Laureth-2 sulfate. SLES in the ethoxyl groups' number is heterogeneous. The most common SLES in commercial products is Laureth-3 sulfate.

1.  Chronic Toxicity

SLES is a very toxic chemical. It is hazardous to the human body and the environment. It can lead to serious eye damage if it comes in contact with the eyes. It is harmful when swallowed, it causes adverse effects such as stomach pains.

2.  Dermatological Toxicity

SLES is dermatologically toxic to the skin. If Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate comes in contact with the skin it is likely to cause skin irritation. SLES is under the Hazard Category 2 of Skin irritation and corrosion. It can also lead to skin burns, blisters and redness, and pain.   To avoid further damage, remove contaminated items of clothing immediately and flush contaminated skin with water for at least 10 minutes. Medical attention should be sought if the victim experiences skin irritation.

3.  Inhalation of SLES

SLES is extremely toxic when inhaled. It can lead to acute stomach pain. Inhalation of SLES in high quantities can lead to damage to the respiratory system. SLES contains a substance known as 1,4-dioxane which is known to be a cause of cancer.

4.  Dangers To Aquatic Life

Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) is toxic to aquatic life. SLES has a long-lasting effect on aquatic life when it comes in contact with them. The effects are always very adverse and acute.

5.  Dangers To Environment

Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) is a toxic chemical that makes it dangerous to the environment. It shouldn't be released into the environment. It is a combustible chemical and can lead to fire and explosion hazards. The fire produced through SLES explosion can cause toxic irritating and corrosive fumes including sulfur oxide. SLES shouldn't be allowed contact with waterways, soil, sewers, and drains.

6.  Is SLES Flammable?

Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate is a combustible chemical. It may burn when ignited but it doesn't ignite readily. It can easily get ignited through open flames or smoking. It reacts readily with oxidizing agents and strong acids.

7.  Safety Tips While Handling SLES

The following are safety tips that should be followed when handling SLES:

  • Personal protective items of clothing and equipment should be worn as required. Put on protective gloves always, impervious gloves are recommended. Always check the gloves to ensure they're still serving their protective characteristics.
  • Protective clothing should be worn while handling SLES to prevent skin contact.
  • Eye protection should be worn while handling SLES to prevent eye contact. Face shields, and chemical goggles, are recommended.
  • In case of inadequate respiration, respiratory protection should be worn.

The task and risk involved should determine the protective equipment(Clothing, Footwear, Gloves) that would be worn.