Grease gets trapped inside the grease-loving center of these supermolecules, and – thanks to the sheer attractive molecular force keeping the hydrophilic head in the water, grease is lifted right off the surface.
Your mouth and digestive system are full of water, but they are also full of fats. Having these aggressively stripped away from your digestive system is, as you may suspect, not ideal.
A 2012 report by a scientific body of the European Commission notes that, in small quantities, “surfactants have low oral acute toxicity,” adding that “in general, surfactants have an irritating effect on mucous membranes,” which are tissues that line the gut and the surfaces of plenty of tube-shaped organs.
It can be worse than just having an itchy, aching digestive tract though. Take a higher dose, and the severity of the effects can step up a gear.
“Manifestations may also include vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea,” the report notes. “In rare cases, vomiting or formation of considerable amounts of foam in the mouth involve an aspiration risk.”
No, not in the sense of your personal aspirations – the sense of accidentally inhaling toxic materials, either new or freshly regurgitated. Both this and the foam, created as air gets mixed into the alchemical mixture, can leap into your lungs and stop you being able to breathe properly.
Healthy people might get away without any serious harm, but for extremely young children, the elderly, and anyone with a pre-existing medical condition, these surfactants can cause serious health problems. That’s not all that’s in these tablets, though.
Don't Eat Bleach, People
Take sodium percarbonate, a bleaching agent. It’s a dry, granulated form of hydrogen peroxide, and like all bleaches, it is responsible for removing stains from things by introducing a whitening effect.
Bleaches are oxidizing agents, which means that electrons are removed from these stain molecules, altering its overall structure. This can either destroy them completely, or take away their ability to absorb light and thereby give off its color.
Again, there is no reason why you should be eating bleaching molecules. Sometimes bleach can be an irritant, but concentrated bleach can be corrosive.