Saturday, September 24, 2011

Creating products: Questions about Polawax versus other emulsifying waxes

We've had some great questions and comments come out of the creating products series so far, so I thought I'd share them with you over the next few days! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any post by writing in the comments box (and I don't care how old the post might be - I'm always checking them!) 

Which version of Polawax do you use? There is only one, and that's Polawax by Croda. Your supplier might call it something else, but it is NOT the same as e-wax or emulsifying wax. Yes, the INCI name might be Emulsifying Wax NF and it is an emulsifying wax in the generic sense, but it is a proprietary blend of ingredients and we don't know exactly what is in it! If a supplier is carrying Polawax, they will let you know by calling it Polawax. (They'd be crazy not to as they can charge more for it than emulsifying wax NF).

So Polawax is an emulsifying wax and its INCI is emulsifying wax NF, but it is not the same as emulsifying wax as suppliers don't tend to use the generic term to refer to Polawax. 

What is the emulsifying wax we see in our suppliers' shops? It can be many things, but it's almost always a mix of at least one low HLB emulsfier and one high HLB emulsifier. What you see at one supplier as emulsifying wax isn't necessarily what you'll find at another supplier.

New Directions Aromatics' self-emulsifying wax (INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate), Ingredients to Die For's emulsifying wax is actually Lipowax PA (INCI: Emulsifying wax NF), the Personal Formulator's emulsifying wax has an INCI of  Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60 (click here for the MSDS),  and Gracefruit's emulsifying wax is Polawax. These are all very different products. One might be a flake, while another is a pastille, and still another is a pellet. (Polawax comes in those little white pastilles or flatter pellet - look left.) Odds are that none of these are the same product and the results you get with one might not be replicated with another. But they would all be considered emulsifying wax.

If you're using something other than Polawax, you might have to adapt your recipe slightly. Voyageur Soap & Candle suggests using 1% more e-wax than Polawax, so you'd want to figure out your recipes using the 25% rule (figure out how much oil you have, then use 25% of that amount in Polawax as the emulsifier - and that rule ONLY applies to Polawax), then add another 1% to ensure stability.

Please note that every emulsifier is different. What works for one emulsifying wax - the 25% rule, for instance - doesn't work for another. BTMS-50 emulsifies at much lower levels than Polawax and I've found that using 8% Ritamulse SCG seems to be the lowest I want to go, even with a 20% oil phase. If you want to use something called emulsifying wax NF that isn't Polawax, consult with your supplier and find out what she suggests as the usage rate, or ask them for the data bulletin and suggested usage rates from the company.

I can't stress enough how important it is to learn your INCI names so you know what you're buying from your suppliers. Click here to learn more about INCI names.

Join me tomorrow for more questions about creating products!


Anonymous said...

This was a great blog post! another tip for formulators not all product ingredients are the same from supplier to supplier! I tried DMAE from one company-it was great. Tried another company because it was cheaper-big fail! Went back to original supplier!

madpiano said...

Thanks for this, as I was always curious and also thanks for including a UK supplier!!

Leman said...

Susan this is a great post, thank you!
So, are you saying that if were to use another emulsifier than the ones you use in your recpies -emulsifiying wax NF (INCI: Cetearyl alcohol and Polysorbate 60), polawax or BTMS-50- than we add 1% more? or do we use the suppliers suggested usage rate?

And if we add 1% more than do we take that 1% out from the water phase?

Nedeia said...

Great post, dear Susan! I an glad to hear that gracefruit sells polawax. Looking at the inci I was almost sure that it was the real thing, but now I am relieved :)

Anonymous said...

Great post Susan. Thank you.


Lise M Andersen said...

I was looking for a 'contact me' link on your blog and came up empty... I just wanted to THANK YOU Susan.. you have made a positive difference in my life in the past year


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Leman. Always use the suppliers' suggested usage rate. For instance, if you're using their emulsifying wax, Voyageur suggests you use 1% more than you would if you were using Polawax. But that doesn't mean this applies to any other company's emulsifying wax. Ask your supplier for information - what's the suggested usage rate for this product? how do you suggest I should use it? do you have a data sheet or data bulletin with more information? - and use what they say when formulating.

Leman said...

Thanks Susan, sorry for being daft! You have specified in your post but I wasn't sure, now I am sure :-)
If the suppliers suggested rate is more or less than rate you use in your recipes, do we adjust the water rate to to make up the difference?

M Konnerth said...

hey Susan - I seem to get a little confused when I see 'emulsifier' in some of your recipes...I have a generic packaged emulsifying wax NF and I have BTMS and BTMS-50 (altho I've never seen the BTMS-50 actually specified in a recipe...hmmm, why did I buy it?) anyhoo - the inci names are certainly different between the BTMS and the Polawax - but am I altering the 'feel' of the product by using the BTMS instead of the Polawax?
I also see just 'emulsifying wax' specified on other site's recipes, and in these cases I use my generic one...

can you please shed some light on this? thanks, as always!