Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Emulsifiers: Sucragel AOF

Sucragel AOF (INCI: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil (and) Glycerine (and) Aqua (and) Sucrose Laurate) is a thick liquid emulsifier we can use cold to make gels and lotions. It's based on sucrose laurate, which is an ester of sucrose combined with fatty acids. In this case, it's combined with lauric acid, which generally comes from coconut or palm kernel oil.

Sucrose laurate is considered to be a food grade emulsifier - it's edible, if that's what you're looking for in an emulsifier! - and it is considered to be a skin conditioner and surfactant. It might be good for use in deodorants as "sucrose esters like sucrose myristate and sucrose laurate have antiadhesive properties to various microorganisms including the typical microflora of the underarm skin." (p. 616, Handbook of Cosmetic Science & Technology, 2nd edition).

Sucragel AOF is designed to work with vegetable oils. For esters, mineral oil, and silicones, it is suggested to use Sucragel CF. You can use a titch of an ester - for instance, 2% IPM in the oil phase - but I wouldn't try going over that. It's designed to work in products with pH 4 to 8, so it might not play well with loads of AHAs or other acids. Check your pH if you're going to use a lot of those ingredients.  I haven't been able to figure out if we can use cationic ingredients like honeyquat or polyquat 7 or other cationic polymers with this emulsifier.

When using Sucragel AOF, following the proper order of adding ingredients is vital. You want to add your Sucragel, then all the oil phase, then the water phase and mix really well. The suggested usage is 5% Sucragel AOF to 20% to 25% oils and 75% to 90% water. You can make the product cold or you can heat the ingredients to melt things - for instance, cetyl alcohol - then add the water phase. If you are heating ingredients, only include the ingredients to be heated and the Sucragel. Leave the other oils out of the mix until you remove it from the heat.

I found the 5% usage number from the video I've linked to below and from this brochure, but one of the company's brochures suggested a usage rate of 6% to 99%. The recipes I have created used 5% Sucragel AOF and some of them have been in my workshop for a year and show no signs of separation, so I feel comfortable going with this number. 

If you had an oil phase that looked like this...
5% Sucragel AOF
3% cetyl alcohol
5% cocoa butter
10% olive oil
7% borage oil
...you'd only include the Sucragel AOF, cetyl alcohol, and cocoa butter in the heated phase of the product. When those ingredients are melted, then you'd add the olive and borage oil and continue on to include your water phase.

You will want to put the ingredients into a tall container and use a stick blender or propeller mixer to mix it. I found a tall plastic beer cup or a beaker worked really well for this purpose. And don't forget to use only distilled water when formulating with this ingredient: We aren't heating and holding, so we don't have a chance to kill possible beasties.

Lotions made with Sucragel AOF are much thinner than those made with other emulsifiers, so you'll want to make sure you use some thickeners in the mix, like one of the butters or a fatty alcohol, like cetyl alcohol. I have found that stearic acid doesn't play well with Sucragel AOF, and I don't suggest you use it. Every time I used stearic acid, the product separated. I'm not sure why this might be, but don't bother trying it at home! I included some xanthan gum in a few of the products to thicken it up.

And I've found these lotions are a tad on the sticky side - I guess it's the sucrose laurate and glycerin - so I would suggest not using glycerin as your humectant as it could get a little too sticky with that combination. I like sodium lactate, sodium PCA, or propylene glycol as my humectant of choice.

I think this is a good emulsifier for spray lotions, body milks, and moisturizers. I tried making a body butter with it using 15% butter and 3% cetyl alcohol and it never thickened up enough for me to consider it more than a very liquidy lotion. Even with the xanthan gum, it wasn't as thick as I would have liked. It makes for a great moisturizer as it is very thin but stays on nicely.

If you want to make what are called oily gels, you'll want to use a propeller mixer. I tried with a stick blender and regular mixer, and it ended in failure. The propeller mixer seems like the only way to make this work. I will not be addressing these products in this series of posts as I couldn't get them to work for me properly.

A note: The reason I wasn't able to get these oily gels to work properly is that I didn't have enough Sucragel AOF to cover the bottom of my propeller mixer (I bought it at a paint store and it's the type of mixer that is used to mix paint!). 

Quick summary of Sucragel AOF emulsifier
INCI: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil (and) Glycerine (and) Aqua (and) Sucrose Laurate
Suggested usage rate: 5% Sucragel to 20% to 25% oils and 75% to 90% water.
Can be used cold or heated up to help melt our ingredients.
Not sure if it can be used with cationic ingredients.
Should be at pH 4 to 8 in finished products.
Special considerations: Always use distilled water with this emulsifier as we aren't heating our water phase up enough to reduce all possible contamination. Use a stick blender or propeller mixer, not a paddle or whisk mixer.

Click here for the data bulletin on this emulsifier. 
Click here for the YouTube video on how to use this emulsifier.
Click here for a formulation brochure with loads of recipes! 
And another formulation brochure with recipes!
And the official website for this product, including videos and recipes

Where to find it? Aromantic in the UK calls this cold emulsifier (or possibly cold organic emulsifier) and it looks like they have the Sucragel AOF BIO, which is approved by the Soil Association. I haven't been able to find it elsewhere. Please share links in the comments below if you've found it elsewhere!

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at a few formulations using Sucragel AOF.


Leanne said...


I've seen cold emulsifiers availble on makingcosmetics.com. Their house brand is ICE Blend, which stands for instant cold emulsifier. Anyway, I noticed one of the blends has stearic acid as the main ingredient. They note that when formulating to neutralize your water with TEA. Perhaps you would have better results with the Sugragel if you did that. You might what to check out their website.

Mitchell said...

Sucragel looks so cool. I've watched a few videos from Alfa Chemicals. Do you know of any online retailers that sell it? I'm having a hard time locating a seller.

kinks said...

Hi Susan

Plush folly in the UK sell the CF

Funny that u say it may be good as a deodorant as that is exactly what im experimenting with at the moment..... Im making a liquid roll on using floral waters and essential oils and a bit of arrowroot powder and for the emulsifier i decided to use sucragel simply so i could keep it in a liquid form as most other emulsifiers might make it too thick. I didnt realise it actually offered or contributed anything to the deodorant.....its been working better than my store bought brand!!

Susie said...

Hi Susan,
Aroma Zone sell a product called Gelisucre which has an INCI similar to Sucragel.
INCI : Glycerin*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis* (Sweet Almond) oil, Sucrose laurate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) fruit water*
Thanks for a great blog.

Susie said...

Hi Susan,
Aroma Zone sell a product called Gelisucre which has an INCI similar to Sucragel.
INCI : Glycerin*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis* (Sweet Almond) oil, Sucrose laurate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) fruit water*
Thanks for a great blog.

Linda K said...

JkendsdnSucragel AOF is now available at the Soap Kitchen in the UK!

bobzchemist said...


Anonymous said...

While using Sucragel AOF along with Shea Butter, oils and distilled water is it still necessary to use a preservative?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

When we use water, we always use preservatives. There are no exceptions to this rule, regardless of emulsifier, type of oils, and so on. If we put water into a product, we must use a preservative.

So yep, get a preservative in there.

Sophiafh said...

Hi Susan.
After a few attempts with a stick blender, I got Sucragel AOF to work by using a standard hand food mixer with the dough attachments.
The hand blender dough attachments worked really well, but you do have to pour in the oil a tiny bit at a time, ml by ml until the gel has come together. Once the gel is well established, it seems you can add a little bit more each time as you blend, although I tried to keep the quantity small just in case.

Jay P said...

Hi Susan.. thanks for this recipe. I can't wait to experiment with sucragel! One question: if I wanted to add some acidic ingredients how/when would you suggest I do that? Any idea how sucragel behaves in a cream with low pH (~4) ?

Elina Deych said...

Hi Susan,

It's been over a year for me experimenting with Sucragel and creating an array of very interesting products with it. However, I was not able to find a proper preservative for Sucragel-based oily gels. My formula contain small amount of clay and cacao powder, and I figured i will have to use a preservative for anhydrous products. So far, preservatives that I used, such as Vegecil and Ophiphen Plus were not compatible with it. What do you suggest? Do I actually need a preservative in this case?