The main varieties of nonionic surfactants are alkyl alcohol amide (FFA), fatty alcohol polyoxyethylene ether (AE), alkyl phenol ethoxylate (APE or OP). Nonionic surfactants have good solubilization, washing, antistatic, irritating, calcium soap dispersion and other properties, and the practical applicable pH range is wider than general ionic surfactants. In addition to the removal of fouling and foaming properties, other properties tend to be superior to conventional anionic surfactants. Experiments have shown that the addition of a small amount of nonionic surfactant to the ionic surfactant results in an increase in the surface activity of the system --- a comparison between the same active levels.
Alkyl alcohol amides are a class of nonionic surfactants with superior properties, versatility and high frequency of use, and are commonly used in various liquid detergents. Alkanolamides commonly used in liquid detergents are "2:1 amide" and "1.5:1 amide", and "1:1 amide" can also be used. These three specifications vary in their water solubility and thickening properties. In general, "1.5:1 amide" is more moderate and is more commonly used in detergents. Usually, "1:1 amide" is used in combination with other water-soluble surfactants to dissolve easily. Alkyl alcohol amides are more suitable for alkaline detergents and can also be used in detergents which are generally acidic. Alkyl alcohol amide is the least expensive of the nonionic surfactants. In 2002, the price was RMB7,800/ t. Alkyl alcohol amides are used more frequently in liquid detergents than fatty alcohol polyoxyethylene alcohols. The nonionic surfactants used in shampoos are often alkyl alcohol amides. The reason may be that the comprehensive function of FFA is better or more than AE; the price of FFA product is lower than AE; the solubility of FFA is better than AE; the foaming property of FFA is better than AE.