Posts Tagged ‘emulsifier’

Citric Acid

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

citric acidCitric Acid

Naturally found in bitter/sour tasting fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, etc; citric acid is the naturally occurring organic acid that gives such fruits mentioned above their typical sour taste.  Although citric acid is found in various fruits and vegetables including raspberries, tomatoes, and some peppers, it is most potent in limes and lemons consisting of up to 8% of the dry fruit’s weight.  This amount varies based on factors like climate and soil conditions.

Besides fruits and vegetables, citric acid can also be produced from cane sugar, molasses, and dextrose as well.

For biochemistry means, citric acid occurs in the metabolism of nearly every living creature.  This is due to citric acids vital role in the Krebs cycle.  Outside the metabolic role of citric acid, it is also a common go to ingredient for cosmetics, pharmaceutical, food, beverage, and cleaning industries.  In fact, citric acid has been deemed safe by all major food regulatory agencies both on the national (FDA) and international end.

Sold most commonly in a powdered or crystalline form that is white, citric acid can be used as an antioxidant, preservative, pH adjuster, emulsifier, additive, cleanser, and stabilizer.

The industry yielding the most use out of citric acid is food and beverage.  This is because citric acid is an additive that can be found in everything from meat to ice cream to candy and especially soda pops.  Obviously, citric acid can be ingested and very few people are allergic to this ingredient.  Although a typically harmless additive; this natural substance is sour and when consumed in larger quantities, may cause an upset stomach.

On the cosmetic end of things, citric acid is starting to gain popularity.  More and more, people are starting to realize the benefits of using citric acid in their homemade bath and body products because of its pH adjusting abilities.  Items like bath tablets and bath bombs (or bath fizzes) require citric acid as a base ingredient for their formulation.  It is solely this ingredient’s interaction with baking soda that produces carbon dioxide the characteristically known and sought out fizzy action when introduced to water.  Citric acid is also used in masks, peels, creams and lotions because it is an alpha hydroxy acid, giving products great exfoliate and emollient properties.

To view some great bath bomb recipes, click here.

When it comes to antioxidants, citric acid is phenomenal.  Not only does this natural substance help to rejuvenate and refresh the skin, but it also helps to stall the aging process in your skin.  Citric acid also works as both a tonner and a cleanser.  For recipes outside of bath bombs, citric acid can be used up to .5% of the total recipes weight.  To add this ingredient to bath and body recipes, simply dissolve the citric acid in a liquid, and heat the mixture to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before blending it into your other ingredients.

The cleaning industry also has many uses for citric acid.  It is considered an environmentally friendly cleaning agent.

This natural substance makes a great water softener, breaking down the small amounts of metal that is commonly found in water.  When it comes to treating hard water, citric acid is an optimal choice for an all natural water softener.

As for a cleaning agent, citric acid is quickly gaining popularity in kitchen and bathroom cleansers.  Not only does citric acid remove hard water stains from glassware, but due to the nature of this natural ingredient, it works great as a deodorizer with its instinctive clean citrus scent.

To view a natural coffee maker cleaner recipe, please click here.

There are some cautions that should be noted with the hands on use of the concentrated (powdered form) citric acid.  Always use caution when dealing with citric acid.  Skin irritation may occur from interacting with large amounts of citric acid, especially if you have sensitive skin.  Always wash your hands after touching citric acid.  Never rub your eyes after touching citric acid.  Finally, when using products with citric acid for its alpha hydroxy acid benefits; prolonged and aggressive use is not advised.  Doing so will cause skin irritation.  Most skin treatments that involve alpha hydroxyl acid are followed by applying a facial toner that neutralizes the skin’s ph.

To store citric acid, it should be placed in an air tight container away from moisture.  The container should be kept at room temperature.  This will eliminate any chance of humidity from activating its fizzing ability.   If housed in this manner, citric acid can have a shelf life of up to multiple years. 

 

What is a Surfactant?

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Have you ever tried to wash dirty dishes equipped only with a sponge and water?  This can be quite a feat.  You will notice that it takes a lot more time and elbow grease to get the job done.  Wondering why this is?  The answer as you will notice right away is that the dish soap is missing.

Did you know that the most eminent surfactant in existence is soap?

Surfactants seem to always get the bad rap.  Many people associate surfactants as bad ingredients to have in your recipes, but truth be told, this statement is not true!  Yes, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) is a surfactant, and it can be more irritating to your skin than other surfactants, but is it as bad as what you read in the media lately?  It is an urban myth that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate causes cancer.  Read the truth for yourself.   In fact, many of the surfactants that will be listed in this class are derived from a natural source and they work to improve the integrity and performance of your cosmetic formulations.

Surfactants work with various liquids and substances; including oil and water.  Much like that of the role of the emulsifiers, surfactants have a hydrophilic (water-loving) head, and a lipophilic (oil-loving) tail.  In fact, emulsifiers are surfactants, and surfactants are vital to the industry of bath and body products too.  They comprise the largest category of cosmetic chemicals, and seem to have an endless list of cleansing capabilities.  So, needless to say, there is quite a variety to select from when seeking the perfect surfactant for your recipes.

The main qualifier in deciding which surfactant to use is all based upon the benefit that each surfactant provides.  Just like cold process soaping or any homemade bath and body products, the components that you choose to use in your recipes have a direct beneficial affect on the skin when the recipe is transformed into a finished product.  Therefore, when selecting which surfactant to use; it is just as equally important as to what you are looking to achieve in your finished product.  Each surfactant has key functions in which it will excel and equivocally each will also have other functions where it will be lacking.

The term surfactant is actually a combination of its meaning:  surface acting agent.  Let’s look at it again: surfactant = SURFace ACTing AgeNT.  But the term surfactant is not always the one that everyone sticks with.  It seems that surfactants have several names that all become applicable depending of the role of the surfactant in a specific recipe.  For example, in recipes where foam is the finished product, the surfactant used maybe referred to as foaming agents.  Surfactants used in body recipes, can even be termed as detergents or soaps.  Or, in the example of shaving creams, surfactants are considered lubricants because they protect the skin from irritation and the razor’s sharp edge while still allowing the removal of all of the unwanted hairs.

Everything that a surfactant does occurs at the surface levels of the liquids.  The biggest role that a surfactant has is the capability to lower the surface tension of a liquid.  The reaction which then occurs is the conversing of the liquid (with the lower surface tension) and the additional substance.  To break this down in simpler terms; a surfactant has the power to change the properties of a substance.  This process is known as adsorption.  The term adsorption means:  the gathering of gas or liquid in a condensed layer on the surface.  This condensed layer creates a film which is why the surface tension is lowered.  There are four different categories of classification for surfactants based on their interfaces and charges.  They are: Anionic, Nonionic, Cationic, and Amphoteric.

Education is always a powerful thing, and it is not necessary to completely know the ins and outs of everything surfactants.  But, you will want to have a general idea of each group of surfactants and how they play a role in your finished product.  This is especially true if you are looking to accomplish a “made from scratch” recipe.  It is also beneficial to know a few other things about surfactants too.  This would include information like why the surfactants are grouped or classified together or how/if surfactants work with additional groups of surfactants in a collaborate manner.  Spoiler alert:  Not all surfactants play nice with one another!

Anionic surfactants are considered to be the go to surfactant for many formulations.  This group of surfactants is also the most commonly used among foaming product productions, like shampoos or body washes.  The reasoning for this is because the anionic surfactant’s primary functions are creating high foam, high cleansing, and high washing capabilities in a finished product.

Anionic surfactants have a negatively charged water-loving head.  Anionic surfactants work very well in recipes which have a reaction between a chemical (like lye) and fatty acids or alcohols (like animal lard or vegetable based oils).  Hand processed soap, whether it is CP, CPOP, or HP, are all examples of anionic surfactants.  Other examples of anionic surfactants are Sodium sulfates, Ammonium sulfates, sulfosuccinates, sarcosines, sarcosinates, isethionates, and taurates.

One of the drawbacks of using an anionic surfactant relates to skin sensitivity.  Due the high foaming, cleansing, and washing capabilities, skin irritations can occur.  It is for this reason that if you are looking to create a handmade recipe it is best to choose another category of surfactants, or balance the anionic surfactants with amphoteric surfactants.

Amphoteric surfactants are the go with the flow surfactants.  They have the possibility to either have a positive or negative charge.  Their charge is all based on the pH or alkalinity of your finished product.  Hence the amphi prefix.

When an amphoteric surfactant is used in a recipe where the end result of a finished product has a lower pH, the amphoteric surfactant takes on a more conditioning and nourishing role.  On the other hand, when an amphoteric surfactant is used in a recipe where there is a higher pH in the end product, it resembles more of an anionic surfactant with high foaming and cleansing capabilities.  Neither option is necessarily bad; they are just on two different planes of the beneficial skin aspects.

Amphoteric surfactants are the most docile of the surfactants.  They are also the second most used surfactants in the industry.  This is because when used alone, they are able to provide a gentle aspect to the nature of your end product.  Adversely, when an amphoteric surfactant is coupled with an anionic surfactant, the amphoteric surfactant mellows the harshness of the anionic surfactants.  In fact, amphoteric surfactants can be used solo and in conjunction with any other of the surfactant groups.  There adaptability is just one of the reasons why they are so widely used.

Some examples of well know amphoteric surfactants are Coco Bentaine, Lauryl Bentaine, and Hydroxysultaines.

Cationic surfactants are the opposite of anionic surfactants.  They have a positively charged water-loving head.  It is because of this positive charge that cationic surfactants can offer many skin loving, nourishing benefits to the skin and body.  These surfactants are best used in recipes where foaming is not necessarily mandatory such as hair conditioners.  Cationic surfactants alone do not allow for ample foaming capabilities.

Cationic surfactants work well with 2 of the 3 remaining surfactant groups.  Both amphoteric and nonionic surfactants will be compatible with cationic surfactants with no problems.  However, because of the opposing charge cationic (positive) and anionic (negative) surfactants will not combine.

Some common cationic surfactants used in bath and body recipes are your chlorides (Benzalkonium, Stearalkonium, and Centrimonium), Trimethyl Ammoniums, and Methyl Sulfates.

Nonionic surfactants have no foaming capabilities which is why this group of surfactants are rarely used as a recipe’s main surfactant.  Evident by the prefix non, these surfactants do not have a charge in their water-loving heads.  The end result of using a nonionic surfactant will allow for a finished product that has a very gentle cleansing ability.   But, just because it doesn’t foam, it doesn’t mean it does cleanse.

Psychologically speaking, there is a direct mental correlation between foaming and cleansing.  We as a race have somehow inherently made this connection.  Whether it is a physical view of suds equating to cleanliness, or simply urban myths that have taken on a life of their own, the reality is; it could not be further from the truth.

Nonionic surfactants, or at least some of them, are ethoxylated.  What this means is that the nonionic surfactants have had some reaction to the addition of ethylene oxide.  With this reaction comes an even more water-loving head, almost as if it has been supercharged.  This then makes nonionic surfactants (like Polysorbate 20) perfect solubilizers.

But, don’t just disregard this category of surfactants yet.  Nonionic surfactants can also be used in formulations to reduce irritants, due to their gentle cleansing ability.  They also have the capability to be used as an emollient, softening or soothing skin.  Not to mention, these surfactants can be used to stabilize foam in recipes.  Hold on to your seats though folks, because it gets a little better!  Due to its lack of a charge, nonionic surfactants love every other category of surfactants; you can consider them the peacemakers!

Some common nonionic surfactants used in bath and body recipes are your Polysorbates, Emulsifying Wax NF, E-wax, Glyceryl Oleate, Glyceryl Stearate, ingredients with the prefix PEG, Ceteareths, Oleths, Sorbitans, Lauryl Glucoside, and Polyglycose.

In summary, surfactants are amazing little compounds found in many items we use every day like adhesives, bath gels, creams, lotions, frozen foods, chewing gum, inks, and fabric softeners; just to name a few!  There are four main applications of surfactants particularly in just bath and body recipes.  They include: cleansing, solubility, emulsifying, and conditioning.

Some other additional aspects of surfactants to bath and body recipes include:  the potential to increase stability of a product; certain surfactants can be used as thickening agents; due to the composition of a surfactant, some maintain anti-microbial elements and therefore can be used as preservatives; there are even some that have the capability to reduce irritation allowing for a milder product on the skin.

Interested in adding some surfactants to your recipes?  Below is a list of some commonly added surfactants to bath and body recipes:

sodium lauryl sulfate (can be derived from coconuts)  Produces High Foam; easy to thicken. Strong Anionic Surfactant; can cause irritation
ammonium laureth sulfate (derived from coconuts) Produces High Foam; easy to thicken.  Strong Anionic Surfactant; can cause irritation
disodium lauryl sulfosuccinate (derived from coconuts)  Foaming agent, Mild Anionic Surfactant; gentle on the skin
Cocoamphocarboxyglycinate  (derived from coconuts)  Mild, Amphoteric Surfactant
decyl Polyglucoside (vegetable derived, used in baby shampoos for its gentleness)
cetearyl alcohol
stearyl alcohol
Cocamidopropyl Betaine (derived from coconut oil) Amphoteric Surfactant
Decyl Glucoside (derived from sugar)
Glyceryl Cocoate (derived from vegetables)
Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (derived from coconuts)
Almond Glycerides (derived from vegetables)
Sodium Lauryl Sulphoacetate (much milder surfactant than SLS)
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (derived from vegetables and is a natural substitution for SLS) 
sodium methyl cocoyl taurate
(derived from coconut)
Sucrose Cocoate (derived from sugar)
polysorbate 20 (vegetable derived)
polysorbate 80 (vegetable derived)

If you formulate your own cosmetics, please visit our customer suggestion page and let us know which surfactants you would like to see Natures Garden carry.  We will be increasing our line of natural cosmetic supplies.

What is an Emulsifier?

Friday, January 25th, 2013

emulsifier natures gardenIf you have ever seen an unshaken bottle of Italian Salad Dressing, then you have witnessed a product that could definitely use the help of an emulsifier!

In Elementary School, we all learned that oil and water just simply will not combine on their own accord.  They are just not compatible.  It is all about polarity.  Let’s magnify down to the molecular level of things and really get down to the nitty gritty.

Simply put polarity is the nature of a molecule or a compound to either be attracted to or repelled from another molecule.  The attraction or opposition is based on the charge of the nucleus, and the formation of the atoms that have bonded.  Based on this makeup, compounds are either polar or non-polar.

Polar molecules are not balanced in their chemical makeup.  Usually it is because one of the elements is pulling all of the electrons to one side of the atom.  Therefore, polar elements are constantly looking to bond with other polar elements in order to be a balanced compound.  On the flip side, if an atom is completely balanced, and has an equal charge on both sides, then it is classified as non-polar.

Now, when polar and non-polar elements are present in the same mixture what you get is separation.  Whether the mixture is stirred, heated, or shaken; eventually the polar and non-polar elements will isolate themselves from one another.  This is a physical trait, which you can literally see.  What is missing from the equation is an emulsifier.

Emulsifiers are most commonly used in the food industry.  They have a great impact on the texture and composition of food.  Another benefit of using emulsifiers in food is the extension of freshness.  Some common foods that use emulsifiers are:  salad dressings, candy, frozen desserts like ice cream and yogurts, cake mixes, and icings.  There are even foods that are natural emulsifiers such as milk, mustard, and eggs.

In the department of bath and body, or any product that is made to be put on the skin, emulsifiers will become your new best friend.  Since, in our industry, most of our scenting is accomplished with oils, it poses a problem when the product that we are creating is water based.  The reasoning- just like the Italian dressing, water and oil will not mix.  The chemistry concept to remember is like dissolves like.  This means that polar will always bind and dissolve in polar, and vice versa with non-polar.

When a mixture is water based; it is termed Aqueous.  This means that in order to mix other elements to this recipe, the additional ingredients need to be hydrophilic, or water loving (polar).  Fragrance and Essential oils are not water loving, therefore they are termed lipophilic (non-polar).

No matter how much you shake, mix, blend, or beat a mixture, if it contains both water and oils, there will be separation that occurs.  The only way to solve this is by adding an emulsifier to your recipe.  An emulsifier is quite an amazing little thing.  Let’s look at the molecular level again.  An emulsifier consists of a hydrophilic (water-loving) head, and a lipophilic (oil-loving) tail.  This is the perfect peace maker between water and oil.  This is because the emulsion allows for the lesser mass element to be “insulated” by the emulsifier to prevent it from joining the other elements with the same polarity.  What this allows for a dispersion of water and oil together and this referred to as a stable emulsion.

When an emulsifier is added to a recipe, it is drawn to the layer where binding is needed.  It is then able to position itself, by lessening the surface tension, between the oil and water.  Emulsifiers, besides being wonderful binders between polar and non-polar elements, also act as aerating agents, starch complexing agents, and even crystallization inhibitors.

Emulsifiers create emulsions.  There are two types of emulsions.  The first is an oil in water emulsion.  This is where the greater mass is water, and there are oil droplets which are dispersed into the water.  This is created by the emulsifier covering the oil particles and allowing the hydrophilic end to bind with the hydrophilic water.  Now, since both are water-loving elements, they will bind together.  The second emulsion is a water in oil emulsion.  This is where the greater mass is oil, and there are water droplets which are dispersed into the oil by the emulsifier covering the water particles.  This then allows for the lipophoic end to bind with the lipophilic oil.  With the addition of an emulsifier, both emulsions are now stable and evenly dispersed without separation.

These two different emulsions are important to know if for example you are trying to make a specific kind of cream or lotion.

In the case of water dispersed in oil, oil will encase the water so therefore the oils in the recipe will touch the skin first.  There will of course be some greasiness in the feel of the lotion when it is applied to the skin.  This is because of the oils, and will be absorbed into the skin.  These recipes are great for adding beneficial aspects of the oils directly to the skin.

In the case of oil dispersed in water, water will encase the oil so therefore the water in this recipe will touch the skin first.  These recipes have a less greasy feel to them.  These are also great emulsion recipes in situations where you are looking for moisture to be one of the benefits of the lotion or cream.

For bath and body crafters, common emulsifiers that are used are:  Borax with Beeswax, Beeswax, BTMS 25%, Carbomer, Cetaryl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax-NF, Lecithin, PEG-20 Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Silky Emulsifying Wax, Stearyl Alcohol NF, and Polysorbate 80.

Natures Garden Fragrance Oils