I think it's important that we know how our ingredients work, so I thought I'd take a look at how to interpret a data bulletin.
What is a data bulletin? It's a document produced by the supplier of an ingredient that gives you all kinds of information, such as the INCI name as well as properties such as solubility, pH, boiling and melting points, density, and so on. You can get these documents from the manufacturers directly on their web sites or when you get samples, or your suppliers. Some of these are short and straightforward, while others contain a lot of marketing data. There isn't one specific format they follow, but they should contain information like solubility, pH, suggested uses, and so on.
As a note, it's getting harder to get permission to go to a manufacturers' website if you aren't a large company. I was on Croda for years, only to be thrown off and told that they hadn't changed anything. I was promised access, but never received it. This is one of the reasons I'm using Rita Corp products more often now. I don't like the idea that manufacturers won't give us access to very basic information like this.
Let's use this data bulletin on sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate from Stepan as an example data bulletin. (It's easy to access Stepan's information, which is awesome!)
You should see the name they give the product, the CAS registry number, and the INCI name at the top. This thing about applications gives you a general idea on how to use the ingredient. This paragraph can be really long - pages and pages - if they really want to sell you on it!
The CAS registry is the number given to the ingredient by the American Chemical Society so it's easy to define what it is and learn more about it. It's like the ISBN number on a book - it identifies this thing as being unique and easy to find. (Want to learn more? Click here!) To be honest, I've never used this for anything, not even to find something.
This next part contains all the stuff you might need to know about the ingredient. What it looks like - clear liquid - what the active amount might be - 39.1% - the pH, the viscosity, the freezing and boiling point, and so on. (As a note, 25˚C is considered the default temperature for most ingredients.)
What I can learn from this is that this product is a clear liquid with an alkaline pH (8.5) with 39.1% active ingredient that might cloud up if I store it at 7˚C or lower.
Weekend Wonderings:...solidification points of solid surfactants
Importance of temperature - an example
The data bulletin should contain information on safety - biodegradability, toxicity and usage, and storage of the product. These tend to terrify me, but they have to be overly cautious to warn people to be careful with everything! You can get more information on these things in the MSDS.
This section on clearances should tell you information you'll need to sell products containing Bioterge AS-40.
I have to admit I'm not sure why the pH above is listed as 8.5 and the pH listed here is 6.0 to 7.0. I have always thought it was that the pH out of the bottle would be 6.0 to 7.0 and the pH at the top is about 10% C14-16 olefin sulfonate in water, but that doesn't make sense to me now. I have to do some research and get back to you on that. The reported pH for this product - C14-16 olefin sulfonate - is 6.0 to 7.0 everywhere, so that's what I go with!
Data bulletins might contain study results, recipe ideas, suggestions for formulation, photos, and much more. This is a pretty basic one, which made it a great one to review, but they can have many many pages, like this one about Honeyquat (12 pages) that seems more like a marketing brochure than data bulletin, or this one about Incroquat BTMS-50 (19 pages).