Also known as:
triolamine
Alkanolamine 244
Nitrilotriethanol
TEA
TEA (amino alcohol)
TEOA
Tris(b -hydroxyethyl)amine
Tris(2-hydroxyethyl)amine

Chemical formula:
(HOCH2CH2)3N

Structural formula:
                    H
                   /
              H   O
               \ /
            H   C--H
             \ /
      H  H    C--H
      |  |   / 
H--O--C--C--N   
      |  |   \ 
      H  H    C--H
             / \
            H   C--H
               / \
              H   O
                   \
                    H
Other properties:
Melting Point: 18-21° C (64-70° F)
Boiling Point: 190-193° C (374-379° F)
Specific Gravity: 1.124
Flash Point: 185° C (365° F) (flammable)
Autoignition temperature: 315° C (600° F)

Triethanolamine is a common ingredient in skin lotion, eye gels, moisturizers, shampoos, shaving foams, cosmetics, laundry liquid, and many other products which come into contact with skin. It is caustic and is used in low concentrations as a pH balancer (to counteract ingredients which raise acidity) and emulsifier.

Exposure to higher concentrations can cause reactions, including contact dermatitis. Since it is a caustic irritant, contact with the eyes and mucus membranes is to be avoided.

Industrially, triethanolamine is used as a corrosion inhibitor, a vulcanization accelerator for rubber, and an admixture for concrete which accelerates the drying and hardening process (usually to counteract other admixtures which retard the drying process).

As an organic chemical, triethanolamine is readily biodegradable.

Related chemicals: Monoethanolamine (MEA) and Diethanolamine (DEA)

Sources:
http://www.dermaxime.com/triethanolamine.htm
http://www.inchem.org/documents/iarc/vol77/77-10.html
http://www.chem.unep.ch/irptc/sids/OECDSIDS/102716.htm
http://www.nchz.sk/en/PRODUCTS/ORG/triet.htm
http://www.bio-pac.com/biopac/ingred.htm
http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/TR/triethanolamine.html
http://www.basf.de/en/produkte/chemikalien/interm/amine/eoa/applications/?id=V00-pn_D54n35bsf.dW

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