Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The HLB system or creating your own emulsifier

I plan to go into this in more detail in the near future, but for those of you who are interested in learning more about the HLB system (hydrophilic-lipophilic balance system), here are a few links to posts I've written on this topic...

What is the HLB system?
A demonstration of the HLB system with a lotion recipe. 
More fun with the HLB system - a body butter recipe
More fun with the HLB system - a light lotion recipe
Things to think about when creating an emulsifier
Silicones and the HLB system
A short summary of the HLB system and some links

And here's a link to a really valuable PDF on the HLB system from the late, great LabRat. This is where you can find all the HLB values of the emulsifiers and oils.


Tara said...

I've seen a lot of products and a lot of places selling glyceryl stearate and PEG-100. I would love to see you formulate with this emulsifier. I love the creams made with this (not sure if it is due to the emulsifier or not, but I would love to try it).
I've seen it at http://www.makingcosmetics.com/Emulsifiers/CreamMaker-BLEND-p38.html and http://www.lotioncrafter.com/lotionpro-165.html
and http://www.personalformulator.com/wvss/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=187

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I don't have these ingredients, but I am putting in an order to the Herbarie in the near future, so I'll put it on the list for experimenting! Great suggestion, Tara!

Ed said...

Dear Susan -- I'm new to this game and more interested in chemistry than cosmetics. I've learned lots in a very short time, mainly from your blog. I sense that it's science based and so likely to be good information, which isn't always easy to find on the web.

I'm wondering about the use of soap as a high HLB emulsifier for emollient creams. I've tried it once or twice and it seems to work well, and I can't imagine that 2% or so is going to do skin any harm. Cheap and easily available too.

On a similar topic, I recently read a debate about the use of sodium carbonate -- ordinary washing soda -- as an emulsifier. An experienced crafter was asserting that it had no emulsifying action. But it's alkaline, so in an oily mix will produce soap, which will emulsify the mix.

Any experience / comments?



Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ed. I'm definitely science based! I'm all about the studies and evidence and such. Check out the Chemistry Thursday posts.

I wouldn't use soap as an emulsifier, to be honest. It's alkaline and our skin wants to be acidic. What will be the pH of the final product. And you're just asking for the soaping effect!

Have you tried making soap with washing soda? What were your results? My first reaction is that it wouldn't be an effective emulsifier for a number of different reasons (too tired to write more...)

Not all alkaline things create soap. I've seen far too much unsubstantiated stuff about making soap with oils and baking soda because it's alkaline.

Where is this information coming from about using soap as an emulsifier? I have had a few people asking me about it recently, and considering in four years of writing this blog I've never heard of this, so it must be going around somewhere. Can you share?

Ed said...

Hi Susan, thanks for the response.

I'd been reading up about the HLB system, saw in a listing somewhere the value for sodium oleate soap, put 2 and 2 together and probably got 7. I don't remember specifically reading about it.

The result feels OK on the skin, but I don't know the pH. If I get round to getting some test papers, I'll let you know. The soap I used was some melt-and-pour stuff that was said to have a pH of, IIRC, 7.5-8.5 (it was certainly the least alkaline stuff I could find).

Just looked up the soaping effect :-/ The soap I used doesn't foam a whole lot even when used as soap, so I hope to avoid that.

I haven't tried making soap, it was just a possible theoretical solution to a debate. But I guess the only way to solve it is to do the experiment -- I may try using soda as an emuslifier, if so I'll report back.

Kind regards, Ed