Hypotheses: The micellar solutions of sulfonated methyl esters (SME) are expected to form stratifying foam films that exhibit stepwise thinning. From the height of the steps, which are engendered by micellar layers confined in the films, we could determine the micelle aggregation number, surface electric potential, and ionization degree. Moreover, addition of the zwitterionic surfactant cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is expected to transform the small spherical micelles of SME into giant wormlike aggregates.
Experiments: Stratifying films from SME solutions are formed and the heights of the steps are recorded. The viscosity of mixed SME + CAPB solutions is measured at various concentrations and weight ratios of the two surfactants.
Findings: By theoretical analysis of the foam film data, we established that at 30–100 mM SME spherical micelles are formed and their aggregation number was determined. The addition of calcium ions, as in hard water, does not produce significant effect. However, SME and CAPB exhibit a strong synergism with respect to micelle growth as indicated by the high solution’s viscosity. For this reason, the SME + CAPB mixtures represent a promising system for formulations in personal-care and house-hold detergency, having in mind also other useful properties of SME, such as high hard water tolerance, biodegradability and skin compatibility.