Triethanolamine (TEA)

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Triethanolamine (TEA) is a viscous organic compound that belongs to the class of alkanolamines. It is characterized by its three hydroxyl groups, which make it a triol. TEA is a versatile chemical compound used in various industries, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and metalworking.

The best definition of triethanolamine can be summarized as follows: Triethanolamine (TEA) is a colorless, viscous liquid compound with the chemical formula C6H15NO3. It is produced by the reaction of ethylene oxide with ammonia, followed by subsequent ethylation. TEA has the ability to act as both a weak base and a weak acid, making it an excellent pH adjuster and buffer in many applications. It is widely used as an emulsifier, surfactant, pH regulator, and corrosion inhibitor in numerous industrial and consumer products.


Triethanolamine (TEA) is a versatile compound with a wide range of applications in various industries. Some common uses of TEA include:

  1. Cosmetics and Personal Care Products: TEA is used in formulations of cosmetic and personal care products such as creams, lotions, shampoos, hair dyes, and soaps. It acts as an emulsifier, helping to blend oil and water-based ingredients, and as a pH adjuster to maintain the desired acidity or alkalinity of the product.
  2. Pharmaceuticals: TEA is utilized in the production of various pharmaceutical formulations, including ointments, creams, and gels. It serves as a solubilizer, aiding in the dissolution of poorly soluble drugs and enhancing their bioavailability.
  3. Metalworking Fluids: TEA is added to metalworking fluids, such as cutting oils and grinding compounds, as a corrosion inhibitor and pH regulator. It helps to prevent rust and corrosion on metal surfaces, improving the longevity and performance of metalworking equipment.
  4. Textile Industry: TEA is used in textile processing as a pH adjuster and as a dispersing agent for dyes and pigments. It helps to maintain the desired pH level during dyeing and printing processes, ensuring optimal color development and stability.
  5. Cleaning Products: TEA is incorporated into cleaning formulations, including detergents, degreasers, and household cleaners. It acts as a surfactant, aiding in the removal of dirt, grease, and stains, and also helps to stabilize the formulation.
  6. Cement and Concrete Additives: TEA is employed as a cement grinding aid to enhance the efficiency of the grinding process and improve the quality of cement. It also acts as a setting regulator and can increase the early strength of concrete.
  7. Gas Treatment: TEA is used in gas treatment applications, such as the removal of acidic gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), from natural gas and refinery streams. It reacts with these acidic components to form stable salts, reducing their corrosive effects.

It’s important to note that TEA should be handled with caution and used in accordance with safety guidelines, as it can cause skin and eye irritation and may have potential health risks in certain concentrations or when combined with other chemicals.

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