Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Surfactants: Sodium cocoyl isethionate or SCI - a comparison

I recently bought some SCI from Aquarius Aroma & Soap, and they've changed from prills to noodles, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you some of the various ways you can find SCI or sodium cocoyl isethionate.


This is the new SCI flake...but it looks like a noodle!


This is how it melted in my most recent shampoo bars. I admit I was worried that it would be hard to melt and would solidify into some pellets in the product, but I think it worked really well. As usual, I melted it with some cocamidopropyl betaine and DLS mild to decrease the time it would take.

From this post about melting SCI (scroll down a bit): You can add some anionic surfactants like the alkyl sulfosuccinates, alkyl ether sulfosuccinates, sodium or ammonium taurates (see tomorrow's post), acyl glutamates, or acyl sarcosinates to melt your SCI easier and quicker. You can add the amphoteric surfactants like the betaines or hydroxysultaines. Or you can add some non-ionic surfactants like polysorbate 20 or 80, alkyl glucosides (like decyl glucoside), PEG glyceryl cocoates or PEG glyceryl laurates.


This is the prill I normally get from Aquarius Aroma & Soap. In my experience, it's been easy to melt and doesn't reform into little pellets if I don't melt it just right! This is what I normally use in my products, and I find it is really simple to use.


These are another type of SCI noodle. (I fear I can't remember where I bought this.) I have found these are a little harder to melt, even with the surfactants SCI normally likes, and they tend to solidify when the temperature drops below room temperature in a liquid product.


You can see the SCI solidifying when the temperature in my workshop fell below 15˚C.


This is an SCI flake that I think I bought from the Herbarie as SCI 85% flake. I find this melts nicely as well.

The noodles can be called flakes and flakes could be noodles. Prills are a very specific thing and you won't see them listed as noodles or flakes, but always as prills. Ask your supplier if you're in doubt or if it's vital for your project!

12 comments:

Elizabeth said...

My goodness, can you read my mind?! Just today I went on an internet-wide hunt for sci/jordapon prilled and found NOTHING. Nothing! Does BASF not sell the prilled kind anymore? Would you know if there is anyone at all who sells the prilled kind anymore?? If not, I'm super happy to have your list of alternatives; thanks for sharing the melting data! It's so helpful!

lujos said...

I love SCI! I order prill from Gracefruit in the UK.

I use it in a lovely body wash that I make, but although it stays nicely emulsified, and bubbles and moisturises well, I have some trouble with it being too runny/thin in hot temperatures, but thickens up in cooler weather.

Is this normal? Is there anything I can do?

Molly said...

Ingredients to Die For (US) has SCI in a powder form -they call it "BabyFoam"- and it's really easy to work with! When I used noodles it seemed like no matter what there were always some that didn't melt.

lujos said...

Molly, did you have trouble with it getting thicker/thinner with temperature changes?

Velvet Soaps said...

I have made cream soap shaving cream using:
9 oz. Stearic Acid
2 oz. Coconut Oil
2 oz. Palm Oil
1 oz. Shea Butter
1 oz. Soybean Oil
.5 oz. Castor Oil
.5 oz. Hazelnut Oil

5 oz. Glycerin
4 ml NaL 60% solution
and NaOH/KOH combination as per soap calculator.
It is whipped, nice and white and makes sustainable bubbles and it rots since beginning of January 2014. It is a little soft however, and I was wondering if adding SCI will help thicken (at least some literature claims that).
Is there anything else that will thicken my concoction? Your response will be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Melting SCI- can we also use the term desolve? I don't see heating temps just using with other surfactants. Im hoping to use my powder like slsa but I'm not getting the bubbles. What am i doing wrong?

Anonymous said...

From Patricia the post above

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Patricia. I'm having some trouble following your comment. Are you saying that there are no temperatures listed for melting SCI and you would like some? (I don't have any to offer, to be honest.) And you aren't getting the bubbles with SCI like you would with SLSa? To answer that question, I would need to see your exact recipe with the exact process.

K Russell said...

Can you use the powder for a dry cleanser that is activated with water when using?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi K. If you have the prills, then yes, you could. With the noodles, you'd have to grind them up as they are very large.

Jen said...

I'm wondering if I would still need to melt down the powered SCI if I wanted to incorporate it into a solid bubble bar product? Could I add it in as-is (the dry powder form) just like I do the SLSa?

galaxy butterfly said...

Can you tell me how i could melt SCI in Coco glucoside? Surfactants are a completely new sphere for me. Also I've always wondered what would happen if one were to mix a natural saponin like soap nuts (Sapindus emarginatus) and SCI in a formulation for say a face wash. Any ideas?