Chemical Properties and Common Uses of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Industrial Uses and Products Containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in many industrial and household products. It is widely used as a surfactant, emulsifier, and detergent due to its ability to create foam and remove dirt and oil from surfaces. Some of the common products that contain SLS include:

  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Body wash and soap
  • Dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent
  • Cleaning products for floors and surfaces

Production of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is produced through a chemical process involving the reaction of lauryl alcohol and sulfur trioxide. The resulting product is then neutralized with sodium hydroxide to form SLS. This process is typically carried out in large industrial facilities and requires careful handling due to the corrosive nature of the chemicals involved.

Discovery and Commercial Availability of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate was first discovered in the 1930s by the American chemist, Eugene F. Gerlach. It was initially used as a cleaning agent for industrial purposes, such as in the production of textiles and paper. However, its use soon expanded to household products due to its effectiveness as a detergent and emulsifier.

Today, SLS is widely available and can be found in a variety of products in the market. Its low cost and versatility have made it a popular ingredient in the manufacturing industry, despite concerns about its potential health effects.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a chemical compound that is commonly used in various personal care and cleaning products. It is a surfactant, which means it has the ability to lower the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid. This property makes it an effective ingredient in products such as shampoo, toothpaste, and laundry detergents.

Technical Properties

SLS is a white or off-white powder that is soluble in water. It has a relatively high melting point of 204°C and a boiling point of 333°C. Its density is 1.01 g/cm³, which means it is slightly denser than water. SLS is also hygroscopic, meaning it can absorb moisture from the air.

Chemical Formula

The chemical formula for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is C12H25NaO4S. This formula indicates that SLS is composed of 12 carbon atoms, 25 hydrogen atoms, one sodium atom, four oxygen atoms, and one sulfur atom. The molecular weight of SLS is 288.38 g/mol.

Key Properties

  • Melting point: 204°C
  • Boiling point: 333°C
  • Density: 1.01 g/cm³
  • Solubility: soluble in water
  • Hygroscopic

Overall, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a versatile and widely used chemical compound with various technical properties. Its ability to lower surface tension makes it useful in a variety of personal care and cleaning products. Its chemical formula and key properties provide insight into its behavior and potential applications.