Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You don't need to use the HLB system for all-in-one emulsifiers!

You do not need to use the HLB system for an all-in-one or self-emulsifying emulsifier like Polawax, e-wax, Incroquat BTMS-25, Incroquat BTMS-50, Ritamulse SCG, Rita BTMS-225, and so on. If the emulsifier is advertised as being a complete emulsifier, you just need to read the suggested usage rate and do it that way.

In all honesty, I have no idea how one would use the HLB system with an all in one emulsifier, except by breaking the emulsifier into its ingredients and figuring it out that way. Having said that, we don't know the ingredients in Polawax, we can't HLB value the ingredients in the cationic emulsifiers, so the only one would be e-wax NF, which I've found might be cetearyl alcohol, polysorbate 60, PEG-150 stearate, and steareth-20, and in the HLB charts, cetearyl alcohol is considered an emollient, not an emulsifier (click here for the PDF).

If we take a look at Lotionpro 165 at Lotioncrafter, we see it is listed as an all in one or self-emulsifying emulsifier. Its INCI is Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG 100 Stearate. These two things have HLB values - glyceryl stearate is at 3.8 and PEG-100 stearate is at 18.8 - and the whole thing has an HLB value of 11.2, but we don't really care about any of those things. It's an all-in-one or self emulsifying emulsifier, meaning we only care about how much we should use as per the supplier's suggestion. In the case of Lotionpro 165, use it at 1% to 5% in the heated oil phase of our product. We should find out how much oil it can handle - for instance, Sucragel AOF can handle 20% to 25% vegetables oils, while I've found Ritamulse SCG works well for me at 8% and no more than 25% oils - and what types of ingredients it won't like - for instance, it hates esters or doesn't like cationic ingredients - and just use the emulsifier!

To summarize: If you have an all-in-one emulsifier of any sort, don't worry about the HLB system. Find out the suggested usage rates and just use them as suggested. For Polawax, use it at 25% of the oil phase. For the others, ask your supplier or refer to their website!

(In fact, we buy all-in-one emulsifiers to save ourselves the headache of using the HLB system!)

Related posts:
HLB system - introduction (the start of a series)
HLB system - short summary and links


melian1 said...

all that is labelled "e-wax" is not the same.

Emulsifying Wax from MMS (The Sage): INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol & Ceteareth 20
Mountain Rose: Ingredients (Derived From) Cetostearyl alcohol, and Ethoxylated Sorbitan Ester - inci??
Columbus's Emulsifying wax: Cetearyl alcohol & Polysorbate 60
so you really have to know the inci from the specific supplier you buy it from.

Nicole said...

Hello from Australia,

I have just started following your blog and find it so informative and valuable. A huge and very generous effort!

Can you help me out with a 'self emulsifying wax' I purchased which is listed as Glyceryl Stearate & Potassium Stearate (MSDS <96 Glyceryl Stearate, <7 Glycerine, <3 Postassium Stearate). I thought his was an all in one self emulsifying wax, but it appears it is not. I suspect it is Glyceryl Stearate SE which suggests is best used as a thickener of lotions. Any suggestions on type of product I might be able to make with this? Even suggested usage rates would be helpful and will research possible formulas. I have emailed the company I purchased this from, but given they sold this to me as an 'all in one', I'm not expecting too much from their response. I was thinking I may be able to use this to thicken a water based foaming face cleanser which I will send a separate note on.

Anonymous said...


I love your blog and have been reading it for almost a year now.
Can you just confirm that the usage rate of an all in one emulsifier is the percentage of the oil phase only? Because up until now I have been using BTMS which is 6% (I think) of the whole amount of product I make.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous! I'm answering your question in Wednesday's Wonderings later this week. The short answer - it's based on the oil phase but added as a part of the entire recipe.

As a note, please don't be anonymous. Sign off with a nice, "Bye" or something with your first name or a nickname to keep the blog friendly!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nicole. This isn't an all in one emulsifier. Sorry. I've written about it in tomorrow's Tuesday Wonderings. Take a look at that and let me know if it helps any!