Xanthan Gum Mixture

I’m currently developing a lotion and am considering using X-gum to thicken and stabilize. I’ve used it in the past by mixing it in cool water with a stick blender and letting it hydrate overnight for a perfectly clear gel the next morning.

Problem is that when I heat this phase it develops tons of air bubbles. Is it better to just incorporate the gum into the hot water phase just before combining the oil and water phases and forget about making the mixture ahead of time? I know air bubbles are not good for the products but I’d have to assume many of them disappear with mixing tho.

Thanks in in advance for your input/suggestions. 


  • Not surprising. Have you tried first boiling the water and letting it cool down in a sealed container? Water contains air you know, fish breathe it...
    Your proposed method - in my opinion - is not going to work.
    Why not disperse the gum in a medium (eg glycerine) and then add that to the water phase?
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • edited January 2018
    It's better to disperse the xanthan gum in the heated oil phase. This way you also avoid clumps as it doesn't hydrate yet. Can't you use carbomers by the way? They're superior to gums in several ways, and I absolutely love the sensorials.
  • @Doreen81 Doesn't xanthan gum take a lot of time and energy to fully hydrate? Wouldn't exposing xanthan gum to water only at the point of emulsion make it more difficult to hydrate, or make it take longer?
  • @gld010
    Not at all. Maybe you're confused with hyaluronic acid?
    You can add it to the water phase by creating a small vortex when mixing with high/regular shear. Like Belassi mentioned, if you insist on adding it to the water phase, it's better to pre-disperse it in glycerin or another polyol, for example.
  • @Doreen81
    I see, thanks. Still new at this, still learning. I may have been thinking of another thickener that's a pain in the butt to hydrate. Not HEC.
  • Belassi, thanks for the chuckle (even if it wasn’t meant to be funny). I’ll disburse the gum in glycerin. Doreen I’ve never tried adding it to the heated oil phase but I’m open to different methods. My idea of pre-hydrating the gum seemed like a great idea initially. I believe I was probably thinking just as gld010 did about it being a pain to hydrate.

    Thanks everyone!
  • I'd advise using a prop mixer once it's in glycerin, to help avoid fisheyes.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • Cool, thanks so much!
  • @tanelise
    I found dispersing xanthan in the oil phase the quickest way (and I never had clumps/fish eyes), but all roads lead to Rome I guess. :-)
    Enjoy experimenting!
  • Thanks Doreen81!:)
  • for what it's worth, both methods are variations on the same basic technique: slowing down the hydration of the gum by pre-dispersing it in a medium in which it cannot be hydrated
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Thanks Bill. Ordered some gum. Can’t wait to try both methods
  • @Doreen81, I'm very curious in this method. do you disperse the gum in hot/melted oil? What if the gum is dispersed in liquid paraffin and than added in the melted oils? I guess, it should be easier.
  • As a result of this discussion I just tried the alternative of dispersing the gum in part of the oil phase (jojoba oil). I have to say, I thought this was quite a poor method compared with using glycerine. The gum tended to stick to the sides of the beaker and it was the devil to make sure it all ended in the batch.
    Design of anti-aging creams, gels, and serums; shampoos; and therapeutic cosmetics. In-house label and box design capability.
  • @Belassi thanks for the feedback. Interesting....
  • edited January 2018
    Just try it by adding to the (hot) oil phase. I found out that there was no need to disperse it first in an oil. Just try it and go along with what works best for you.
    Good luck! 

    That's odd. I never have problems adding it to the oil phase, it's also quite common to do so!
    Edit: I read that you disperse it in a part of the oil phase. Maybe the quantity was too small, then it will become sticky because you don't have enough medium to disperse it in. I just add it to the hot oil phase, no pre-dispersion, and voilà! 
  • In my experience making hot mix emulsions, a small amount to stabilise (up to 0.2%) I've just thrown in the water phase, and anything that hasn't quite dispersed when I add the oils and homogenise goes in. If you're adding more than that (Typically 0.5% and up) you may have problems, then the adding with glycerin, or in the oil phase may work better. This also works well for things like guar type conditioners in surfactants - glycerin helps a lot, and inorporating in the oil phase has been a popular method for materials like pemulens for years.
    To use a cooking analogy it's making a roux with something like flour and butter to thicken a sauce
    UK based, Over 20 years in Toiletries, After a 5 year sabbatical doing cleaning products, back in the land of Personal Care
  • Both methods worked for me. Disbursed gum in glycerin, and also added gum to the hot oil phase.
  • I usually use 0.3% xanthan gum dispersed in 3% glycerin, very pleased with the results. I might try the other method too. 
  • @em88 I’ll have to try those %s as well

    @Doreen81, I tried Sodium Carbomer and I love it!
  • @tanelise, great. I'd love to read your feedback. 
  • edited January 2018
    Good to hear! :-) You'll never want to use gums again. ;-)
    I made my first cold process cream today with Pemulen TR-1 (and Ultrez 10), it's lovely! A great way if you want to use high % of delicate unrefined cold pressed oils! 
  • Cold process is awesome. I've used it only with acrylates in composition with different emulsifiers. Great experience. 
  • @Doreen81 and @em88 I’ve only heard of cold emulsions recently but couldn’t imagine them in my head until I actually saw one being made. This’ll be next on my list.


  • edited January 2018
    @tanelise there are many manufacturers. Here is an other 
    When I tried myself first time, I was like no way lol. The problem with these premixes is price, which can be justified with the simplicity of the technology involved to formulate your product. 
    I'd like to create myself something similar. Xanthan gum is very easy to work with 
  • @em88 thanks for sharing
  • edited January 2018
    @em88 @tanelise
    I've used Pemulen as single emulsifier and the Ultrez 10 as rheology  mod., no fatty alcohols (they interact with Pemulen) and the result is astonishing! Quite an oil phase >20% and the sensorials are great, very light. I will surely do this again! In my next experiment I will be using other emulsifiers with it (btw many emulsifiers interact with Pemulen, depending on the carbon chain length). 

    Tip: disperse both the carbomer and the Pemulen in the oil phase. Add the water phase very very slowly while mixing full speed. I didn't have one single clump! :blush:

    One more thing, if you use something like Pemulen as only emulsifer, you can put a '0% emulsifier' claim on your product.
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