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The 411 on Phosphate Esters

Phosphate esters are a standout among surfactants due to their valuable functional properties and remarkable versatility. As demand for them continues to grow, Ethox Chemicals is proud to offer extensive expertise in phosphate ester production to our customers.

Read on to learn more about these advantageous surfactants – and how we use them to customize high-performance products for specific applications in a multitude of sectors.


Organic esters of phosphoric acid, phosphate esters are a versatile class of anionic surfactants. Superior wetting and dispersing agents for a variety of end uses, they improve the dispersion of pigments during processing while also enhancing surface wetting and reducing flash rusting. Because of their versatility, phosphate esters have applications in many industries. For example, they are used in the coatings industry to improve gloss, color acceptance, and water sensitivity in waterborne paint and coatings.

Prepared via a phosphation process in which either phosphoric anhydride (P2O5) or polyphosphoric acid (PPA) is reacted with the hydroxyl group (-OH) of a hydrophobe-containing material, phosphate esters are strong acids. While they are often used in the acid form, they can also be partially or fully neutralized with various bases—such as potassium hydroxide or amines—to form anionic phosphate ester salts, which are much more water soluble than the acid form. The degree of neutralization determines the water solubility and surface activity of the phosphate ester, thus they may be ‘tuned’ to optimize their performance in your application.

A Leader in the Production of Phosphate Esters

Ethox Chemicals has more than 50 years of experience producing phosphate esters from these four major chemical groups:

  • Fatty alcohols
  • Ethoxylated and/or propoxylated fatty alcohols
  • Glycerides, such as castor oil
  • Ethoxylated alkyl phenols

They have a broad range of applications, and are used as the following:

  • Extreme pressure additives
  • Anti-static agents
  • Wetting and scouring agents
  • Oil and water dispersible emulsifiers
  • Lubricants
  • Pigment dispersants

Contact Ethox For Your Phosphate Ester Needs

A leading provider of surface-modifying products, we serve customers in a wide breadth and depth of industries. Using our extensive knowledge and experience in custom synthesis and product development, we employ a wide range of chemistries including alkoxylation, esterification, phosphation, sulfation, and quaternization.

As specialists in the manufacturing of phosphate esters, we make more than 100 phosphate ester products using different combinations of hydrophobe-to-acid group content—each optimized for its own specific end use.

If you need a recommendation for current phosphate ester products or want our assistance in customizing a new phosphate ester surfactant to meet your unique end use needs, contact the Ethox Chemical team today.

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