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Adjuvant...Surfactant. What's the difference?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Dirtboy36, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Dirtboy36

    Dirtboy36 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    This may be a no brainer but can someone explain what the difference is between a surfactant and an adjuvant? Is it the same thing? If it is, why do some people say they use an adjuvant and some say surfactant.
  2. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 4,418

    kemco and That Guy Gary like this.
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,462

    Adjuvant is a slightly more general term.
    Adjuvants include pH adjustment solutions, compatibility products, spray oils, anti-foam, thickeners, anti-drift agents, crop-oil concentrates, stickers and surfactants.
    Other products have been tried: Dawn, laundry detergents, anti-odor, perfume, water softeners...ammonium sulfate. Blue dye?
    kemco, AnotherOkie and That Guy Gary like this.
  4. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,506

    It doesn't matter what those people say. You google search both of those terms and you will be smarter for it.
    GrassManKzoo likes this.
  5. OP

    Dirtboy36 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

  6. OP

    Dirtboy36 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Yeah...I did that. Even checked out a few videos. From what I read and watched it sounded like an adjuvant and a surfactant did the same thing. They break surface tension allowing the herbicide to penetrate the leaf surface more efficiently. Some people used the word surfactant when describing this process and some used adjuvant...which I why I was confused.
  7. kemco

    kemco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,798

  8. OP

    Dirtboy36 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Light bulb moment lol. Got it.
  9. That Guy Gary

    That Guy Gary LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,413

    An adjuvant is something that enhances the function of something else.

    Ph adjusters, water conditioners, surfactants, and more are all potential adjuvants for pesticides.

    Surfactants affect the surface tension of fluids.


    It helps keep your material from coming together in larger droplets and increases the amount that actually reaches the surface of the plant.

    Surface tension will also cause droplets to be suspended on top of the microscopic hairs that are common on leaves and stems, a surfactant helps fluids get past them.
    GrassManKzoo likes this.
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,580

    Surfactant describes a spreader/sticker

    Adjuvant could be anything you add to a tank that aids you in treating but isn’t the product itself.
    Blue dye can be an adjuvant but isn’t a surfactant
    GrassManKzoo likes this.

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