Applied Material Solutions (AMS) is a leading provider of chemical solutions, including antifoams and defoamers, colloidal silicas, demulsifiers, silicone emulsions, and more. Here, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about our products and capabilities.

Defoamers & Antifoamers

  • Difference between Defoamer & Antifoam
  • Defoamer Composition
  • How Defoamers Work
  • Types of Antifoaming Agents
  • Common Applications of Antifoams & Defoamers

Difference between Defoamer & Antifoam

What is the difference between a defoamer and an antifoam?

Although the terms defoamer and antifoam are often used interchangeably, they have different intended purposes. The primary distinction between defoamers and antifoams is that defoamers are meant to control the amount of existing foam, whereas antifoaming agents are designed to prevent foam from forming in the first place.

Defoamer Composition

What is a defoamer made of?

Defoamers typically contain a carrier fluid, which can be silicone oil, hydrocarbon oil, synthetic polymer, vegetable oil, etc. In addition, defoamers feature active ingredients that help destabilize foam, such as salts, metal, silica, or other hydrophobic particles.

An emulsification system can help optimize the compatibility and spreading of the defoamer within a foaming system. Depending on the chemistry, stabilizing agents such as acrylic or cellulosic thickeners may be incorporated to enhance shelf stability.

How Defoamers Work

How do defoamers work?

As foam bubbles collect and merge at the surface interface, the bubble walls begin to thin and break. Defoamers help accelerate the process, breaking all the bubbles, including the smaller ones. Typically, defoamers have surface-active properties and are insoluble in the foaming medium.

Defoamers work by entering the bubble wall (lamella) in a process known as “bridging of the film.” During this process, the lamella is bridged by a defoamer droplet or hydrophobic particle such as silica. Once the defoamer enters the lamella, it creates a lens that will start to spread, causing the bubble wall to thin. The thickness of the lens also thins as it spreads, and movements in the medium alter its shape.

Stresses occur until the lens breaks, rupturing the lamella. The resulting lens has significantly less elasticity compared to the surfactant lens, which before application, stabilized the lamella. The destabilization caused by the film facilitates the rupture of the lamella. Defoamers destroy existing foam with the same mechanisms employed by antifoams.

Types of Antifoaming Agents

What are the types of antifoaming agents?

The antifoam market consists of mainly silicone-based products because of their inherent properties, which include:

  • Chemical inertness
  • Insoluble in water
  • Low surface tension
  • Thermal stability

Silicone-based antifoams contain silicone, a polymer derived from a silicon backbone. These antifoams are usually presented as water-based emulsions but can also be non-aqueous. They spread through foam quickly due to their low surface tension. These types of antifoams can easily float over the foam wall, occupying openings to make the foam wall thin and eventually collapse.

Antifoams can also include organic-based and non-silicone products, but their use has been significantly reduced in certain applications because of the overall effectiveness of silicone-based products. However, they still apply in many settings, including process waters and effluent treatments where silicone products aren’t permitted.

Common Applications of Antifoams & Defoamers

What are common applications of antifoams and defoamers?

Defoamers prove beneficial in various industrial applications and products, including inks, paints, adhesives, and coatings. Other defoamer applications include:

  • Cutting fluids
  • Food processing
  • Hydraulics
  • Industrial wastewater treatment
  • Machine tools
  • Oil drilling
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Wood pulp

Antifoam agents can be added to some cleaning products and detergents to help reduce foaming. When used as a process aid or food additive, antifoams control foam and fizziness in manufacturing and packaging. Antifoam agents are also available as pharmaceuticals for human consumption to relieve gas and bloating.

Colloidal Silicas

What is colloidal silica derived from?

Colloidal silica is the result of amorphous silicon dioxide (silica) particles dispersing in water. To produce the amorphous silica particles, silica nuclei are polymerized from silicate solutions under alkaline conditions to create nanometer-sized silica “sols” with high surface areas. When a charge gets introduced to the silica nanoparticle surface, the silica particles repel one another and produce a stable dispersion (colloid).

How does colloidal silica react as an additive?

Applications utilizing colloidal silica can vary. The compound can be effective for directing or enhancing the movement of substances within various processes or used to absorb moisture in industrial settings with high moisture levels. Colloidal silica can also prove effective for increasing surface friction or enhancing the movement of materials, depending on the size of the constituent particles.

What are the uses for colloidal silica?

Colloidal silica can be used in a wide variety of applications and industries, such as:

  • Retention of fine fibers during paper manufacturing
  • Densification of cement, concrete, and other materials
  • Enhanced bonding of waterborne adhesives

Is colloidal silica safe for the environment?

Colloidal silica products rank among the most eco-friendly industrial chemical products since they consist of water and amorphous silica.


  • What Are Demulsifiers?

    Demulsifiers are chemical products used to break emulsions in order to separate the two phases. The type of demulsifier chosen for an application depends on whether the emulsion is water-in-oil or oil-in-water.

  • How Do Demulsifier Work?

    A demulsifier partially or totally displaces indigenous stabilizing interfacial film components, or polar materials, around the water droplets. This displacement changes properties, such as interfacial elasticity or viscosity of the protecting film, resulting in enhanced destabilization. In some instances, demulsifiers act as a wetting agent to transform the wettability of the stabilizing particles, causing the emulsion film to break up.

  • What Are Corn Oil Demulsifiers?

    Many corn oil demulsifiers are made of sorbitol derivatives or other similar types of polyol chemistry. Demulsifier products can derive from other surfactant types, but most corn oil demulsifiers are proprietary formulations that contain several different components. They also often contain hydrophobic silica as a performance additive.

Silicone Emulsions

  • What Are Silicone Emulsions?

    Silicone emulsions consist of insoluble silicones that have been evenly dispersed in water using an emulsifying surfactant. Depending on the type of emulsifier system used, silicone emulsions can be divided into three groups: anionic, non-ionic, and cationic.

  • What is the Purpose of Silicone Emulsions?

    Silicone emulsions play a vital role in a wide variety of applications, including:

    • Lubricants and release agents for plastic and rubber
    • Release agents for plastic serving dishes and food trays
    • Household cleaners and car polishes to improve resistance, protection, spreadability, and gloss
    • Textile finishing to reduce the need for ironing, enhance feel, and provide water repellency
    • Clay, perlite, vermiculite, and other building materials to protect against dampness and enhance water-repelling properties
    • Lubrication and antistatic agent for papermaking and printing

Toll Manufacturing

Toll manufacturing, or tolling, is the outsourcing of part or all production to another company. With toll manufacturing, you are responsible for providing semi-finished products or all or most of the raw materials.

A toll manufacturing agreement occurs between two or more businesses. One company owns the idea or design for a product, supplying materials to the other company to manufacture part or all of the product. The agreement ensures that all trade secrets and intellectual rights are protected from being passed to competitors or used to manufacture competing products.

Toll manufacturing agreements can also be referred to as tolling process agreements or tolling agreements. While the agreement needs to be customized to address specific needs, a template for toll manufacturing agreements is a good place to start.

Toll manufacturing offers several key advantages:

  • Toll manufacturers charge a flat fee
  • Control over the cost of raw materials and overall quality remains with you
  • Customization capabilities
  • Handling of raw materials gets taken care of by the toll company
  • Increased production efficiency
  • On-demand capabilities that allow you to seek services as needed
  • Provides production convenience, particularly for chemical toll manufacturing
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Save on capital equipment

Have Another Question?

Don’t see the answer to your question? As experts in our chemical products, AMS is here to answer any other questions you may have about our defoamers and antifoams, colloidal silicas, silicone emulsions, and more.

Contact us with any other questions you may have about our line of high-quality products.