Uses & Benefits
Personal Care Products
Ethanolamines like MEA work as cleansing agents, or surfactants, in personal care products and cosmetics. In these types of products, ethanolamines help remove dirt and oil on skin by dissolving grease and blending other important ingredients. Because ethanolamines don’t impart a strong odor, they are commonly ingredients in products like hair dye. Ethanolamines like MEA help adjust the pH of a product to keep it from degrading when stored in a container so it will last longer.
DEA and DEA-related ingredients also function as emulsifiers or foaming agents in cosmetics and help adjust a product’s pH level or acidity. One example is cocamide diethanolamine, which is made by reacting coconut oils with DEA to create a cleansing foam in bath products like shampoos and hand soaps.
Ethanolamines such as MEA are common ingredients in cleaning products like floor and tile cleaners, as well as laundry detergents. As surfactants in these products, ethanolamines help remove dirt, grease and stains. DEA is a common ingredient in industrial cleaning products, such as engine degreasers and industrial strength detergents, due to its ability to break down oil and grease.
Due to its emulsification properties, MEA and DEA also can be used in industrial applications, such as chemical manufacturing and gas treating. In gas treating processes for refineries and natural gas streams, MEA and DEA help remove contaminants from gasoline. As a chemical intermediate, DEA is used in agrochemicals to make pesticides, where it helps increase a pesticide’s ability to dissolve in water. In the production of wax, polish and coating products, DEA works as an emulsifier to help ingredients mix and help keep other materials from corroding.
MEA acts as a plasticizing agent to help make plastic become pliable and soft. Chemical manufacturing plants use MEA to remove carbon dioxide from ammonia gas in the production of synthetic ammonia.
TEA is used as a surfactant in agrochemicals, to help pesticides disperse into crops, which then helps repel insects from the crops. As a petroleum demulsifier, TEA helps separate oil from water and other substances. In cement additives, TEA helps advance setting and/or hardening of cement. It is also a corrosion inhibitor in steel and zinc materials used in building and construction.