The composition of aerosol from cloud droplets differs from that below cloud. Its implications for the Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) activity are the focus of this study. Water-soluble organic matter from below cloud, and cloud droplet residuals off the coast of Monterey, California were collected; offline chemical composition, CCN activity and surface tension measurements coupled with Köhler Theory Analysis are used to infer the molar volume and surfactant characteristics of organics in both samples. Based on the surface tension depression of the samples, it is unlikely that the aerosol contains strong surfactants. The activation kinetics for all samples examined are consistent with rapid (NH4)2SO4 calibration aerosol. This is consistent with our current understanding of droplet kinetics for ambient CCN. However, the carbonaceous material in cloud drop residuals is far more hygroscopic than in sub-cloud aerosol, suggestive of the impact of cloud chemistry on the hygroscopic properties of organic matter. © 2015 by the authors.