All Beer Line Cleaners Are Not Created Equal (Part 2) - Surfactants

As we stated in our previous blog, beer line cleaners are generally (but not always) comprised of caustic soda, surfactants, wetting, and chelating agents. A properly formulated beer line cleaner will always have a totally balanced surfactant package. No matter how high the caustic strength, the beer line cannot get properly cleaned if the surfactant package is not optimal. It’s complicated chemistry, but Draftec® has always taken pride in never compromising any aspect of its flagship beer line cleaner, including surfactants. Thus, we can guarantee that Draftec® is the best line cleaner in the business and brings a whole new meaning to lifting the daily grime!!

Water molecules

But what are surfactants? Why are they so important? And how do they work?

Surfactants are compounds that, among other properties, lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, foaming agents, emulsifiers or dispersants. Moreover, such properties are imperative for efficient beer line cleaning.

The name “surfactant” was first coined in the 1950s and was derived from the surface active agent.

We all know that water is “wet,” but it could actually be wetter. This is because water molecules are like a group of good friends; they like to be together. In the case of water, the water molecules stick together to form water drops as we might see on a window or the windshield of a car. This is called “surface tension” which allows the water drops to hold their shape. Eventually, gravity will cause the water drops to fall and streak. If we could lower the surface tension then the water would disperse or spread out rather than form drops, i.e., it becomes wetter. This is precisely what a surfactant will do: reduce the surface tension.

Surfactant molecules have a head and a tail. The head of the molecule is attracted to water or liquid (hydrophilic), and the tail is attracted to oils and dirt (hydrophobic). When the surfactant molecules meet beerstone or biofilms in beer lines, the tails are drawn into the biofilm, but the heads still sit in the liquid. If the surfactant package is optimized correctly, the attractive forces between the head groups and the water are so strong that the beerstone or biofilm, as it is dislodged, is lifted away from the surface. The biofilm and beerstone are now entirely surrounded by surfactant detergent molecules which can then be broken into smaller pieces and washed away by rinsing with water.

However, to make this even more complicated, there are different surfactants with even more different properties. Draftec® understands this so that the different properties can be further understood and balanced to achieve a completely optimized Draftec® product. More to come!

AC Technologies - Clean Once, Clean Right!

A free sample of Draftec's beer line cleaner is available for professional line cleaners and beer distributors. To request a sample, please email us at or call us at (888) 226-8228.