What Are Sorbents Used For

If your workplace has fluids, workplace spills and leaks are unpredictable. However, they can have severe consequences for the environment and workers alike. In most situations, potential spills are not a matter of if, but when, where, what, and how. This is why you should have sorbents to help you clean potential spills and leaks before causing serious troubles.

How Do Sorbents Work?

Sorbents can either adsorb or absorb. These two terms are quite similar yet very different. The difference in these terms is based on the type of fluid that needs to be cleaned up. Absorption simply implies assimilating a liquid into a media. For this to happen, the liquid should have small molecules that dissolve in the media.

Oil Spill

On the other hand, when a liquid is adsorbed, it simply attaches to the material. This implies that sorbents that adsorbs liquids, such as oil, should have a large surface area unlike those that pick universal liquids, which have spill absorbent granules that soak up.

Types of Spills That Sorbents Clean

Identifying the specific type of fluids in your workplace will help you identify the best sorbent to use. Most spills can be categorized as follows;

Universal spills – these are made up of water-based chemicals and solvents. They are non-aggressive, and materials with cellulose and other absorbent materials can clean them.

Oil and petroleum spills – oils such as diesel, butane, and gasoline have hydrophobic hydrocarbons that cluster and repel water. In such cases, oil-only control sorbents that repel water and adsorb oil are used.


Chemical spills – chemical spills have aggressive substances, which could be acids or bases. These spills should be cleaned with synthetic sorbents that can withstand corrosion.

The type of spill, volume, and location of liquid spills determine the type of sorbents to be used during control. Some of the common sorbents include absorbent pads, absorbent pillows, absorbent socks, and loose sorbents.