Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Wonderings: What's in Polawax?

What exactly is in Polawax? This question has come up a few times lately and the answer is that we don't know what is in Polawax. It's a trade secret. But if this is the case, why has New Directions Aromatics posted this in their listing for Polawax? "Emulsifying Wax NF consists of four ingredients. These are Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-150 Stearate, Polysorbate 60, and Steareth-20. It mirrors the properties of Cetyl Alcohol while promoting the thickening features of Stearyl Alcohol." Where did they get this information?

I think it might have come the Wikipedia site for emulsifying wax NF or WiseGeek's entry on emulsifying wax NF (which is word for word what you see on the NDA site). But here's the thing...the INCI for Polawax is emulsifying wax NF, but emulsifying wax NF isn't necessarily Polawax. So you can't say that the ingredients for Polawax are the same as e-wax NF.

What is in Polawax? As I mentioned above, we don't know. There has been some speculation that it's cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60, but nothing has been confirmed.

Let's take a look at some of our emulsifiers again over the next few days! Join me tomorrow for more fun with emulsifiers!


Unknown said...

Hello. I hope this helps: A distributor of Polawax told me that indeed it's cetearyl alcohol and polysorbate 60
Also, there is a huge and highly reputable pharmacy in Mexico City that specialises in making formulas for dermatologists and I talked to the head chemist there and she said that it's exactly what it is.

Paige B said...

Just as an FYI, I found a site where you can get Polawax for an extremely reasonable price, less expensive than anywhere else I had found anyway. I know that price is one downside to Polawax...Mile High Soap has 1lb of Polawax for $11.50 (! This is a US site that currently only ships within the US, unfortunately, but maybe that will change? I also found that their plastic jars were quite reasonably priced. Thus far, that's all I've purchased from them.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Paige. Thanks for the information! Have you ordered from them. What did you think of their service and selection? Feel free to share your thoughts in the post Where to get supplies in America?, which you can find in the FAQ!

I looked at the site, and unfortunately they have cut and pasted the same information from WiseGeek, which says that emulsifying wax contains these four things. That post isn't about Polawax, but people keep cutting and pasting it! And that cut & paste isn't even the right INCI for regular emulsifying wax NF! Argh!

Paige B said...

Is it possible they cut and pasted it thinking it was legitimate information about Polawax, but the product they have is still actually Polawax? I haven't used regular E-wax, and this is the first time I ever ordered "Polawax", but it seems to make very easy emulsions that are stable so far. My understanding is that that is the advantage of Polawax over standard E-wax...whatever "extras" they use in Polawax vs E-wax makes it work better? I will email them and ask if it is "actual" Polawax.

I will comment on the where to get supplies post as well, but I was happy with what I got. I will order from there again.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Paige. I think they're probably selling Polawax, but they've posted the wrong information.

Paige B said...

Yes, it is Polawax. I heard back quite quickly and got this reply:

Hello Paige,

The product you purchased and we sell as Polawax is actually Polawax.
I did find the ingredients on another website and assumed they were correct.
I have since taken the ingredient deck off and replaced it with the INCI name.

Thank you for sharing your information and thank you again for your purchase,

Brent Parris
Mile High Soap

I'm quite impressed with the quick and courteous response and would encourage people to check out Mile High Soap!

Desiree said...

Hi Susan,

I followed this conversation from another post while hunting something down for a client. I wanted to add my two cents just as a educated guess, not a definitive response.

Based on the INCI name of Polawax and the data sheet provided by Croda I believe the ingredients are that of emulsifying wax NF; however the percentages of each ingredient are proprietary. There's a process to assigning INCI names and I don't believe it would have been assigned the name of emulsifying wax NF if it did not in fact contain the same ingredients. That kind of goes against the whole point of assigning names under a unified system. Looking at the data sheet you'll see Croda gives a percentage range for the Stearyl/Cetyl content in the Polawax A-31 but states Polawax NF percentages as "proprietary". As a fellow formulator, you know the difference small variances in ratios can make in your formulations.

With all that said, I think what we're seeing here is effective use of trade secret protection and trademark protection. What we're missing is the ingredients listed in the proper order (greatest to least).

Again, this is just my educated guess. I just thought I'd help try to make sense of all this.