Monday, June 13, 2011

Why did I buy that? SCS-CAB blend (sodium coco sulfate - cocamidopropyl betaine blend)

Tara suggested the SCS-CAB surfactant blend as one of those why did I buy that ingredients (if you'd like to make a suggestion, please click on the link and leave a comment there!)

SCS-CAB blend is a surfactant blend of sodium coco sulfate and cocamidopropyl betaine (about 34% to 37% surfactants). It has a pH of about 6.0 to 7.5 (great range for making products) and the suggested use is at about 10% to 40% in our shampoos, body washes, and other lathery products.

Sodium coco sulfate is related to the most hated of surfactants - sodium lauryl sulfate - with some differences. Whereas SLS is derived from lauryl alcohol (from coconuts), SCS is derived from coconuts (hence the "coco" part of the name), but contains a number of different fatty alcohols in the mix, like lauryl, cetyl, and stearyl alcohols.

Because of these extra fatty alcohols and because of the increased molecular weight, SCS is more hydrophobic and less water soluble than SLS, so it feels more moisturizing and conditioning on our skin (the way SCI feels). It's a great foamer in hard water and boosts the foam of other surfactants. It's easy to thicken with salt and things like Crothix.

SCS has a Green Star Rating of 58 (rounded from 57.7%), which is a measure of renewable resource content in an ingredient.

When we find SCS in the flake or noodle format (I have the noodle format), it is considered a good thickener and pearlizer for our products. The pH ranges between 9.5 to 12.0, so make sure you test the pH if you're using this as a substitute for SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate), which has a pH that ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 or so.

I've seen SCS used as a substitute for the SLSa and SCI in shampoo bars. If you're planning to do this - and I do plan to do it in the near future just out of curiosity - test the pH when you're still in the melty gloppy stage of the product. If you need to increase or decrease the pH of the product, please consult this post for more information.

The SCS in this product is found in liquid form (because it's in a liquid medium - water) and is combined with cocamidopropyl betaine. When SCS is combined with cocamidopropyl betaine, our products should have increased clarity, mildness, and foam volume, as well as some thickening.

So what should we expect out of this surfactant blend? We should expect a really great foamer that will also boost the foam of other surfactants, increased mildness, some possible thickening of the product, and a mild detergent. If you're using this blend, you will not need to worry about the pH level as it ranges between 6.0 and 7.5, which is where we want it to be.

Where can you use this surfactant blend? Wherever you want! It would work in any body washes, shampoos, bubble baths, and other surfactanty products you like! I think it would be especially nice combined with SCI to create a very conditioning and moisturizing body wash, or combined with something like polyglucoside/lactylate blend to create a really really moisturizing product (probably too moisturizing in a facial cleanser or shampoo for us oily girls!)

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with SCS-CAB blend!


Tara said...

Aw, thanks for covering this Susan. It is still sitting in my workshop, waiting to be used. I was thinking about making something for my husband with this, as he has very tolerant skin, but maybe I could use it too, since it doesn't seem so harsh. Most of the time I use the stuff I make for my kids :)

Robert said...


There are several suppliers of sodium coco sulphate alone. Some sources, but not all, are certified organic by NPA (natural products association)as shown at:

In several of our 'green' products we use the certified organic version of the SCS.

I have not used the SCS-CAB blend. It would not be certified organic but should be nice to work with.

Mychelle said...

I have some of this laying around as well. It's about time I use it! I do use 10% SCS in my shampoo bar. I love the bubbles it creates.

I did have to type this comment twice, as when you go tonpost your comment on the mobile site it redirects to the regular comment page but the content disappears. Just thought you would want to know!

Bajan Lily said...

Hey Susan,

I definitely enjoyed these 'Why did I..' posts. Thanks for the ongoing lessons in forumulation and ingredients.

I just received some SCS in a 'goodie bag' from a local supplier (as they were out of SMC Taurate). I know it is not a like for like substitute for SMC but is it as 'harsh' for dry hair types and sensitive skin as SLS? I see you've mentioned above that it is RELATED to SLS but in a post on the Long Hair Care Forum there are some posters who are quite adamant that SLS and SCS are exactly the same thing, just with 'coco' replacing 'Lauryl' in order to fool the public. So - are they exactly the same thing or is SCS a 'greener' or milder version?

Bajan Lily said...

Here are the links for the posts I referred to if you were interested:

and bottom of page 1 in this thread

Anonymous said...

Hello Susan and anyone who will read this message,
I'm french and new in canada in Vancouver and I would like to find a supplier for the sodium coco sulfate and SCI for continuing making my shampoo bar but do you know any because I'm spending my time on internet for trying to found one after have asked in all the soap making place that I know and also in fews pharmacy!!Is it possible to help me in my research???!!
Thank you.

Danielle Martin said...

Hi Susan, I just found this post on another site regarding sodium coco sulfate, and I greatly disagree. Why is there such bad information out there about this ingredient?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I made a body wash and my hands prune everytime I use it. I work with surfactants readily available to me. I'm worried it may be harsh. Is the scs harsh? Thanks in advance. �� Cristina

10% each:
Smc taurate
Coco betaine
3% each:
***water, preservative and fragrance

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Cristina! Pruining isn't a bad thing. It's what our skin does when exposed to water for a period of time. It might be this isn't the right blend for you. No, these surfactants aren't harsh, and adding glycerin and cocamidopropyl betaine to the mix increases the mildness. If you're worried about this, make a small batch with only the SMC taurate and coco betaine and leave out the SCS and see what happens!