Active Ingredients in Degreasers

Degreasers are used to break down grease, dirt and grime. Degreasers are a collection of various compounds that aid in the collapse of fatty, oily compounds from fabrics, metals and other materials. The type of degreaser used on substances depends on the substance and on the active and inactive ingredients contained in the degreaser. A degreaser's active ingredients are responsible for the actual cleaning process. While some products may add additional ingredients to their particular formula, the ingredients responsible for cleaning and breaking down fatty acids are usually the same from one brand to another.

Sodium Carbonate

One active ingredient in many degreasers, sodium carbonate (also known as soap ash), is used in powdered detergents as well as degreasers. Sodium carbonate works to break down grease and oil, and remove lubricants from materials and objects. Produced naturally from the ashes of various plants, manufacturers can duplicate the substance from salt. While commonly used in degreasers, sodium carbonate also serves in the making of paper and glass.

Sodium Meta Silicate

Sodium meta silicate, an extremely alkaline substance, enables degreasers to break down fatty acids found in greasy products. This compound also works to soften hard water and becomes a strong cleaning agent when added to water. Liquid detergents and phosphate-free powder detergents use sodium meta silicate as an active ingredient to remove dirt and oil from fabrics and hard substances.

Ethylenediaminetetraaceate (EDTA)

Ethylenediaminetetraaceate (EDTA) works as a binding agent and hard water reliever. This white powdery compound works to stabilize other degreaser compounds when added to water, allowing the compounds to properly complete the cleaning process. This compound is also used in the medical field to stop blood from coagulating during collection.

Sodium Tripolyphosphate

Most degreasers utilize sodium tripolyphosphate as a base in which to combine and regulate other active ingredients; however, this salt also acts as a pH buffer. Sodium tripolyphosphate even out friction between other substances in degreasers, which otherwise might cause a chemical reaction. Sodium tripolyphosphate also works to deter grease and grime, while boosting the power of the other ingredients to clean. Sodium tripolyphosphate is also used as an ingredient in pesticides.