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Germicidal vs. Conditioning Quats
Posted: June 18, 2007
Tony O’Lenick explores the difference between germicidal and conditioning quats.
Quat is surfactant jargon for a quaternary ammonium compound. This class of compounds includes nitrogen-containing materials in which the nitrogen has four nonhydrogens surrounding them. Quats by virtue of their fatty group and their cationic group are substantive to hair, skin and cell walls of bacteria. These substrates are fatty in nature and generally have a negative charge, the result of oxidation of sulfur-bearing amino acids.
The nature of the interaction between hair, skin and bacteria cell walls is critical to the function of the quat at the surface. If the quat coats the hair and skin with minimal penetration, it is mild and conditioning. If the quat is made to maximize the disruption of the bacteria cell wall, it will be antimicrobial.