Most of the modern detergents contain zeolites as a detergent builder. They have micro porous crystalline solid structures with high aluminum content that absorb water, sulfur, and other smaller molecules in their cavities. In detergents, zeolites act as an ion exchange builders which replace water hardness ions with sodium ions. Synthetic zeolites are mostly used over natural ones in detergent production as they are more efficient, consistent, and cost effective. The main function of zeolites for detergents is to extract water hardness components and soften the water for washing and laundry processes. Zeolites for detergents also have high absorptive capacity of liquid components like surfactants and hence suitable for its production.
It has been long known that detergents cause harm to the environment to a significant extent. Accumulation of high level of foam in various rivers are generally caused by the poorly biodegradable surfactants and other detergent ingredients. Zeolites for detergents are insoluble additives, their biodegradability depend on the environment where water hardness components like calcium and magnesium either get absorbed or released in the waterways. Since long, the Law on Surfactants in Detergents and Cleaning Products have imposed a ban on poorly degradable surfactants.
With growing concerns of environmental issues, synthetic zeolites are widely adopted in detergents industry due to their high functionality and favorable ecological properties. According to different research and studies, zeolites for detergents cause no harm to the aquatic organisms nor have negative impact on the growth of diatoms or algae. Furthermore, zeolite containing detergents do not impose any risk to phytoplankton, zooplankton, or fish. The replacement of phosphate based detergent with zeolites has not only led to the reduction of water issues but also improved the desired water protection targets.
The phosphate-based detergents have known to cause sediment deposits which results in clogging of domestic and municipal sewage systems. On the other hand, detergents with zeolite content showed no such deposits even over a prolonged usage period. They are proven to be non-toxic to living organisms and show no allergic or irritation potential when come in contact with the skin. Synthetic zeolites are inert, highly pure, have less or no toxic properties as compared to natural zeolites, and widely accepted by both manufacturers and consumers. Owing to their exceptionally advantageous detergent builder properties coupled with human and environment safety standards, zeolites will continue to remain an ideal ingredient for detergents.
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