The Science behind the Colloidal Micelle

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LH Organics produces a unique line of non-toxic, biodegradable, plant-based products for the cleaning industry. The uniqueness of our products comes from the incredibly small size of our soap-like molecule called a micelle. This micelle is comprised of a collection of linear molecules of fatty esters and fatty acids clumped together in the shape of a sphere that is about the size of 20 hydrogen atoms, or one third the size of a water molecule These linear molecules have a water attracting head and a water repelling tail ( just like a regular soap molecule). The interior of the sphere consists of tails that do not like water, (hydrophobic) , and the outside with head groups that do like water (hydrophilic), Similar to plain old soap, micelles provide a way to dissolve molecules that do not like water, in water, otherwise called emulsification. But that’s where the similarities end.

With the extremely small size of the micelle, there is a lot more surface area available to react with other molecules ie, a basketball cannot come into contact with the same amount of surface that a basketball full of marbles can. A basketball touches the floor on one spot, whereas the hundreds of marbles that take up the same volume as the basketball touch the floor in hundreds of spots.

This vastly increased ratio of surface area to volume promotes surface phenomena ( quantum physics) that increase the ability of the micelles to react with other suspended material.

Micelles are activated when mixed with sufficient amount of water such that each micelle is then completely surrounded by a thin layer of water molecules. The outer hydrophilic shell aggressively searches for and bonds with water molecules, making them hyper-mobile.

When an activated micelle comes in contact with a hydrocarbon molecule, the center of the micelle bonds to a similar hydrophobic hydrocarbon (dirt), overpowering the attraction to other hydrocarbon molecules and/or to the surface to which it may be attached. This “magnetic like” attraction the micelle has with other carbon atoms is stronger than the co-valent bond the carbon atom has with its neighbor. In this fashion, micelles effectively break the carbon bonds in long-chain hydrocarbons, and other organic compounds.

The action of these carbon-loving, hyper- mobile micelles is similar to a sub-microscopic sand blaster. Micelles hammer the surface of an organic compound and tear it apart.

These micelles lend special characteristics to a wide variety of products by:

Lowering the surface tension of water, up to twice as much as typical water-based cleaning solutions. The micelle actually changes the “V” shape of the water molecule from a wide at the top, shallow V, to a narrow, sharp pointed V ( like an arrowhead). This increases the wetting and penetrating properties of a micelle-based product. For this reason, micelles are part of the formulation for paints, sealants, skin cream etc.
Many active ingredients in a product are made up of clusters of molecules stuck together in a clump. Micelles break apart these clumps of molecules to expose each individual molecule so that it can become active. This aspect of micelles behavior can be significant in that it is possible to dramatically reduce the amount of a hazardous active ingredient without sacrificing performance. For example, micelles are very beneficial when used in conjunction with pesticides. Testing has shown that some toxic compounds required in these pesticides can be reduced by up to fifty fold, without decreasing its efficacy.
They degrade the carbon bonds in organic materials on contact. Micelles are a catalyst which accelerates the normally slow decomposition of organics by breaking down long, complex molecules into smaller pieces. In this fashion, oil and grease are completely converted into a NANO-EMULSION which cannot revert back to oil. Unlike most cleaners, that merely lift oil off a surface and redeposit it in drains, the emulsified oils and organics that result when micelles are used, are quickly broken down by bacteria.
Micelles can dramatically increase cleaning efficiency of some compounds by reducing the interfacial tension between active ingredients and the target soil.
Micelles in and of themselves can penetrate and rupture the cell wall of bacteria, virus’s and mold spores. Micelles are used in hundreds of products across numerous industries. In the words of one chemist / formulator who recently started incorporating micelles into his products "this is the only product that I have encountered in my career that is applicable to just about every industry that I can think of."

LH Organics uses a proprietary process where plant-based ingredients are mechanically sheared, then chemically reacted to produce a 2 nano-meter sized micelle. All ingredients meet the criteria for the US EPA Design for the Environment Program. No ingredient appears on the CEPA DSL, or California proposition 65. Formulas and products have been third party reviewed by NSF which replaces the USDA and operates under the auspices of the World Health Organization.