Detergent in My Toothpaste? Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

sodium lauryl sulfateWhat is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)? It sounds unbelievable, but it is detergent.

I once wrote an article on the chemical difference between soap and detergent. That article discusses the chemical differences between soap and detergent.

What is really curious is their end uses, their applications. For instance, did you know detergent is among the most prevalent ingredients in your toothpaste? Yes, uou put detergent in your mouth almost every morning!

The most common frequently used of these toothpaste detergents is sodium lauryl sulfate (or sodium dodecyl sulfate). This anionic surfactant is what produces the foaming effect in the mouth. Yum!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – There’s Moresodium lauryl sulfate

It’s not what it does so much as just the idea that we purposely put detergent in our mouths one or more times a day. Let’s add to the effect by reflecting briefly on the chemicals that are or can be used in the manufacture of SLS:

  • Lauryl alcohol (derived from coconut or palm kernel oil)
  • Sulfur trioxide gas (used to make sulfuric acid)
  • Sodium hydroxide (lye) or carbonate (washing soda)

Other uses for sodium lauryl sulfate are in shaving cream and engine degreasers. The same ingredient in your toothpaste is used to degrease engines. Hah! Oh, and there is one use less than pleasant to consider: the use of SLS to kill blackbirds. Nevertheless, for typical human use, the chemical is declared acceptable by the FDA.

Note: You might also enjoy Exotic Perfume and Ambergris

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