Widely used in bath and beauty products, EDTA prevents changes in color, texture and fragrance. Removing free metal ions or minerals has several benefits: it helps products stay bright and beautiful, it reduces hardness of water, giving skin a better feel and it helps reduce scum that some soaps naturally develop when used in the bath.
EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a chelating agent, which is a substance whose molecules can form several bonds to a single metal ion. It's formed of four carboxylic acid groups attached to two nitrogen atoms. In certain conditions the compound develops negative charges on four of the oxygen atoms; this allows EDTA to sequester (grab onto) free metal ions or minerals. Think of it as a lobster with claws closing around minerals as they float past in the water.
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