Developing a System is Critical


Developing a system to help you identify products and their functions is critical to achieving jar testing efficiency. In this program we utilize a color coding system for organization. Wastewater products can be organized into three categories: Chemistry, Charge and Physical Characteristic.

There are four basic chemistries for wastewater products:

  • Coagulants
  • Flocculants
  • Metals Removal Products
  • Oil Demulsifiers

Coagulants (organic and inorganic) usually have a cationic charge and function to neutralize charges. This neutralization step creates what is known as a pin floc visible to the eye. Given enough time, these particles will either settle to the bottom or raise to the top of your sample depending on their buoyancy.

Think of a stream after a rain storm. The stream’s water is hazy and will not clear up quickly due to the small, solid particles in the water having a negative charge. This negative charge causes the small particles to repel each other, much like similar poles on a magnet. The cationic charge of the coagulants neutralizes the negative charge and allows the particles to coagulate, creating a pin floc.

Chemistries which are considered coagulants include:

DADMACAluminum based products
Polyamine-EPIIron based products
TanninOrganic/Inorganic Blends
Mannich Amine 
Melamine Formaldehyde 

Flocculants can have an anionic, cationic or nonionic charge, and are much higher molecular weighted products than coagulants.

Think of a strand of pearls. Flocculants would be the size of a full strand but the coagulants are the size of a single pearl. Polymer manufacturers can control the number of pearls (molecular weight), charge on the pearls (anionic, cationic or nonionic) and number of charged pearls per strand (charge density). Nonionic products are actually very low anionic products which contain only a very few number of charged pearls on a strand.

Metals Removal Products include Carbamate, Polycarbonate, Thio Red, Polysulfides and various other products.

Oil Demulsifiers are categorized in two basic types: surfactants and oils/solvents. Surfactant based demulsifiers are used to water wet solid particles. Oil/solvent based demulsifiers are used to destabilize a water in oil emulsion.


  • Cationic (Positive Charge)
  • Anionic (Negative Charge)
  • Nonionic (Very Low Anionic Charge)

Note: Coagulants and Flocculants carry a charge; whereas, Metals Removal and Demulsifiers are not based on charge.


Physical characteristics of wastewater products can be classified into three segments: Liquid, Emulsion and Powder.

1. Liquid: Typically, yellow, straw, brown-red or clear in color.

2. Emulsion: Usually white in color. These are the long chain flocculants dissolved in water encapsulated or emulsified in an oil, and uncoil and expand when prepared for use.

3. Powder: Beads, Flakes or Granular.


To ensure the task is not overwhelming, experts recommend categorizing all the products using colored labels, readily available at any office supply store. This will give the 32 black bottle tops some organization.

The following label categories are suggested:

  • Green for Cationic
  • Red for Anionic
  • Yellow for Nonionic
  • Gray for Oil Breakers
  • Blue for Metals Precipitants
  • White for any extra products
  • Also label each product with its name and form:
    • L for Liquid
    • E for Emulsion
    • P for Powder

Organizing and knowing the chemistry of the 32 products you color-coded will help you decide which products to use to jar test.