One ingredient, ten products: Incroquat BTMS-50 in a body butter, Art Creators asks: Can we substitute the use of cetyl alcohol with something else?
Yes. And let's take a few minutes to consider how I know this and what you could use instead.
When thinking of substituting an ingredient, ask yourself these questions...
Question 1: What does this ingredient bring to the mix?
Question 2: Is there something that could take ingredient x's place?
Question 3: Do I need to make any alterations if I take out that ingredient?
The ingredient in question is cetyl alcohol. What does it bring to this product? Cetyl alcohol is a thickener and emollient. It will make the lotion feel thicker, glidier, and slicker, and it will act as a moisturizer. In most lotion recipes, the purpose of the cetyl alcohol is to create a thicker and slicker product than one without it. I've included it in this recipe because I want a body butter to feel thick and be glidy on my skin. As well, cetyl alcohol can serve as a stabilizer for the emulsifier.
stearic acid, it's going to feel thicker and less glidy than a version with cetyl alcohol. If I use cetearyl alcohol, it'll feel slightly thicker and waxier. If I use behenyl alcohol, it'll feel thicker and powder-ier.
We could use a butter in its place, using more mango or shea butter. If we use more mango butter, it'll feel thicker and less greasy. If we use shea butter, it'll feel a bit thicker and greasier.
Do I need to make any alterations if I take out the cetyl alcohol completely? If I leave it out, the product won't be as thick or glidy feeling. Is that a big deal? That will depend on my personal preferences. If I like something to be thicker and more glidy, I'll miss that feeling in my product. If I've never made the product before, I probably won't notice it. Just remember that if we want our total for a recipe to be 100%, we need to compensate for any changes to the recipe. If we take 3% cetyl alcohol out of the recipe, I'll want to increase the water amount by 3% to keep that total the same.
Why the water amount? Because it's the easiest thing to modify. If we upped the oil by 3%, we'd have to increase the emulsifier by 0.75% (if we're using Polawax). If we upped the emulsifier by 3%, we'd have too much. If we increase the water by 3%, nothing changes much!
This isn't to say that you can substitute or leave out cetyl alcohol every time. In conditioner recipes, cetyl alcohol is included because it works to boost the conditioning power of your cationic quaternary compound (the conditioning agent, like the behentrimonium methosulfate in Incroquat BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225), as well as thickening the product and increasing the emolliency. And that's kind of an awesome.
This is why we can't make a list of substitutions - as in, if you have this, you can always use this, except for oils - because things like cetyl alcohol have many different uses in different products. But in the case of lotions, you can almost always substitute cetyl alcohol with another fatty alcohol or stearic acid.
How do you know what to substitute?
Substitutions: Playing around with a recipe
Substituting one ingredient for another
Can we substitute one oil for another?
Substituting: Figuring out what's important in a conditioner.
Substituting: Learning INCI names
Substituting: How to tweak that amazing sounding recipe!
Substitutions: Modifying a lotion with what you have (part one)
Substitutions: Modifying a lotion with what you have (part two)
Substitutions: What to do when you can't wait to create!
Formulating on a budget: An introduction
Formulating on a budget: Buying ingredients
Formulating on a budget: A test recipe