An alkyl sulfates is an organic compound used in liquid soaps, wool-cleaning detergents, surface cleaners, and other cleaning products. These anionic surfactants are used to lower the surface tension between the other liquids present in the product. Other products in which they can be found are toothpaste, cosmetics, and even some foods. Generally speaking, their concentration in consumer products (or the type of things you would use in your home, like toothpaste, or shampoo and conditioner), ranges from between three and twenty percent. As of 2003, almost one-hundred and twenty-thousand tons of this chemical were used in the United States.
As part of the larger grouping of organosulfates, this kind of sulfate shares chemical similarities with dialkylsulfates and natural sulfate esters. All organosulfates come from alcohols and sulfuric acids, and while many are used in detergents, others are also used as reagents, which is added to a chemical compound to see if a chemical reaction results.