Help with Surfactants

BikePilot

LawnSite Member
I am researching the use of surfactants and there is a lot of great info using the search function on here. However, using the search function or google I have not been able to find a "simple" explanation on the effects a surfactant has on pH of a mixture of chemicals. I know there are different options. I have read that Li-700 has high acidity and lowers pH of a mixture, this is stated on the label so I may answer my own question with that statement. But, how exactly do I know the effect on pH of a surfactant when trying to choose the right surfactant. I have Drexel Surf-ac 820 Non-ionic but I don't see on the label found using google how this surfactant effects mixture pH. I used the google search to find the label because I am in a hotel and don't have the actual product with me to read. Please help me understand how I know surfactants like the Drexel product above or MSO will effect the pH of the mixture it is added to. Thanks
 

greendoctor

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Honolulu, Hawaii
LI 700 is a specialty surfactant that is to be used only with products that are stabilized and enhanced by being in an acid. Your normal broadleaf weed controls and RoundUp are examples of products that benefit from this type of surfactant. There are other herbicides that often state on the label not to apply with materials that acidify. Sedgehammer is an example of such a product. Regular surfactants like the Drexel Nonionic do not acidify the water. Neither does MSO. However, MSO will break down leaf waxes and provide enhanced penetration of herbicides like Drive and Sedgehammer. You did not say which state you are from, so it is hard to tell what you commonly apply. I know I apply lots of products that benefit from MSO.
 

RigglePLC

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids MI
Good points, Green. Non-ionic surfactants are not supposed to affect the pH of the spray solution. Expect greater effectiveness. They make water wetter and coat the leaf with the spray solution more completely and evenly, with less drip-off. Waxy leaves and hairy leaves tend to shed plain water solutions. Of course, you are not really trying to wet the leaf--the tip of the stem is the most sensitive part of the plant.

The cost may be high if you are using high volume applications, but with low volume and spot spray, the cost is insignificant.

The silicone-type wetting agents or surfactants cost about a hundred dollars per gallon, but you need less. (Like Lesco Hawkeye.)
 

ted putnam

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Arkansas
After this past season, I am a firm believer in MSO. I had never used it before but used it with Celsius back last summer and used it with my "Onion Killer" mix. We put the hammer down on some major onion infestations this year. Nothing changed in my overall mix compared to previous years except the use of MSO....Excellent results.
 

Turf Dawg

LawnSite Gold Member
After this past season, I am a firm believer in MSO. I had never used it before but used it with Celsius back last summer and used it with my "Onion Killer" mix. We put the hammer down on some major onion infestations this year. Nothing changed in my overall mix compared to previous years except the use of MSO....Excellent results.
Hey Ted,

Did you use it at 1oz per gal or less?
 

ted putnam

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Arkansas
A little less actually. 2 oz in a 3 gal backpack. 12 oz/ 18 gal tank on the Z-spray.
 

greendoctor

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Honolulu, Hawaii
Good points, Green. Non-ionic surfactants are not supposed to affect the pH of the spray solution. Expect greater effectiveness. They make water wetter and coat the leaf with the spray solution more completely and evenly, with less drip-off. Waxy leaves and hairy leaves tend to shed plain water solutions. Of course, you are not really trying to wet the leaf--the tip of the stem is the most sensitive part of the plant.

The cost may be high if you are using high volume applications, but with low volume and spot spray, the cost is insignificant.

The silicone-type wetting agents or surfactants cost about a hundred dollars per gallon, but you need less. (Like Lesco Hawkeye.)
The reason why I use MSO is that it is the best surfactant for making the new 15 gram or less AI per acre herbicides penetrate into waxy, hardened off weeds. Wetting agents will form a film over that type of leaf tissue, but no guarantee that it has solvated the AI and is inducing penetration. I am a little envious of you operators on the continent. Frost and snow kills off most weeds and forces them to start over with tender new growth. I get what are supposed to be annual broadleafs turning into woody brush. Hence the reason for me being so anal about how a mix is applied and what is in the mix. I need a lot better than a shot of Three Way and some Pre M before that to get me through.

Ted, many people here had trouble getting the Revolver/Celsius mix to work. They were using either silicone or conventional nonionic. I got different results applying those herbicides in 1/2% MSO or 3/4 ounce per gallon of mix. Even Revolver solo against goosegrass and crabgrass is mediocre if not applied with MSO. A truly hot mix to be used with care is the addition of 4 oz per acre of Dismiss to those mixes. Rapid damage occurs to sedges, broadleaves and goosegrass. Onion and garlic are examples of weed with a thick, waxy leaf coating that a nonionic will form a film over, but not really penetrate. MSO is also used as biodiesel and as a biodegradable alternative to petroleum solvents. In fact, one of the early problems with using biodiesel in older engines was the rubber seals dissolving. Teflon and Viton are resistant, rubber melts.
 

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