surfactant base has solidified. Help?

Hi all,

I formulated a surfactant base for a facial wash using a formulation from Swift Crafty Monkey. However, upon standing for a couple of days to allow any bubbles to disspiate, the formula began turning to a solid. It took almost a week to solidify in the glass beaker and each day I could see it turning slowly from a clear liquid to a white solid. It changed to a solid in a strange way by the solid parts "spreading" through the liquid and "consuming", for what of a better word, the liquid.

Does anyone know why this may have happened?

The formula is this:
HEATED,WATER,PHASE,
25%,surfactantof,choice, (I chose sodium coco sulfate in solid noodle form)
15%,cocamidopropyl,betaine,
54.5%,distilled,water,
3%,glycerin,
2%,polyquat,7

COOL DOWN PHASE:
0.5% Preservative 

Comments

  • edited December 2018
    You may want to look at your total solids. Between 25% Coco-Sulfate noodles and 15% Cocamidylpropyl Betaine, I would wager that they are far too high.

    Total solids is a surfactant system is an important concept. You may want to read some references (nobody should "learn" from reading "threads") and explore this concept. 

    This would be the first area I would approach. Also, when selecting a surfactant ("surfactant of choice" is too generous) be sure that it is compatible with your other surfactants. That could also be an issue.   
    markfuller@microformulation.com Microformulation.com Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications.
  • Face wash shouldn’t be higher than 10% of active surfactants. Also cationics irritate eyes. 
  • @charmainia:

    The problem is that your Sodium Coco-Sulfate is too high @ 25%.  Cut that down to 12% or so.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • Thank you all. I will reformulate and let you know the outcomes.
  • Hi all,

    I formulated a surfactant base for a facial wash using a formulation from Swift Crafty Monkey. However, upon standing for a couple of days to allow any bubbles to disspiate, the formula began turning to a solid. It took almost a week to solidify in the glass beaker and each day I could see it turning slowly from a clear liquid to a white solid. It changed to a solid in a strange way by the solid parts "spreading" through the liquid and "consuming", for what of a better word, the liquid.

    Does anyone know why this may have happened?

    The formula is this:
    HEATED,WATER,PHASE,
    25%,surfactantof,choice, (I chose sodium coco sulfate in solid noodle form)
    15%,cocamidopropyl,betaine,
    54.5%,distilled,water,
    3%,glycerin,
    2%,polyquat,7

    COOL DOWN PHASE:
    0.5% Preservative 
    I wouldn’t suggest you use a solid surfactant in a liquid product like this, and I can assure you I’ve never used sodium coco sulfate in this way. (I have used SCS in maybe 10 formulas over 12 years, and all of them were in solid products.) Your product solidified because you used a solid surfactant. I tried working with SCI like this in 2009, but I updated those posts to reflect the fails I experienced with re-solidification, and I’ve written in greater detail since about what I learned and what I would do differently now. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed those formulas have been shared by others without noting they originated from my blog and that they would re-solidify. 
  • You can indeed use solid surfactants in liquid products.  It is simply a matter of using the appropriate amount of solid surfactant.  I use SCI in commercial liquid products all the time with no issues.  To say that you can only use solid surfactants in solid products is simply incorrect.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • You can indeed use solid surfactants in liquid products.  It is simply a matter of using the appropriate amount of solid surfactant.  I use SCI in commercial liquid products all the time with no issues.  To say that you can only use solid surfactants in solid products is simply incorrect.
    Are you responding to me? I ask because I didn’t say you can only use solid surfactants in solid products and I didn’t say you couldn’t use solid surfactants in liquid products, so I’m not really sure to whom you were directing your response. If you referring to me, I would encourage you to read my comments again for further clarification. I was responding to using 25% sodium Coco Sulfate or SCI in a liquid product like the one the OP shared. Given your success in using SCI in commercial liquid products, surely you know the difficulties in incorporating solid surfactants, so I’m eager to see how you would prevent 25% SCS from re-solidifying in that exact formula. I’m also incredibly curious how you would prevent 25% SCI from re-solidifying in that formula. Thanks in advance for your time! 
  • @charmainia:

    The problem is that your Sodium Coco-Sulfate is too high @ 25%.  Cut that down to 12% or so.
    Hi all,

    I formulated a surfactant base for a facial wash using a formulation from Swift Crafty Monkey. However, upon standing for a couple of days to allow any bubbles to disspiate, the formula began turning to a solid. It took almost a week to solidify in the glass beaker and each day I could see it turning slowly from a clear liquid to a white solid. It changed to a solid in a strange way by the solid parts "spreading" through the liquid and "consuming", for what of a better word, the liquid.

    Does anyone know why this may have happened?

    The formula is this:
    HEATED,WATER,PHASE,
    25%,surfactantof,choice, (I chose sodium coco sulfate in solid noodle form)
    15%,cocamidopropyl,betaine,
    54.5%,distilled,water,
    3%,glycerin,
    2%,polyquat,7

    COOL DOWN PHASE:
    0.5% Preservative 
    I wouldn’t suggest you use a solid surfactant in a liquid product like this, and I can assure you I’ve never used sodium coco sulfate in this way. (I have used SCS in maybe 10 formulas over 12 years, and all of them were in solid products.) Your product solidified because you used a solid surfactant. I tried working with SCI like this in 2009, but I updated those posts to reflect the fails I experienced with re-solidification, and I’ve written in greater detail since about what I learned and what I would do differently now. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed those formulas have been shared by others without noting they originated from my blog and that they would re-solidify. 

    Actually, your comment does indeed suggest that a solid surfactant should not be used in liquid products.  The product solidified because the OP used too much solid surfactant in a liquid product, not simply because it is a solid surfactant.  It's a clarification.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

  • @charmainia:

    The problem is that your Sodium Coco-Sulfate is too high @ 25%.  Cut that down to 12% or so.
    Hi all,

    I formulated a surfactant base for a facial wash using a formulation from Swift Crafty Monkey. However, upon standing for a couple of days to allow any bubbles to disspiate, the formula began turning to a solid. It took almost a week to solidify in the glass beaker and each day I could see it turning slowly from a clear liquid to a white solid. It changed to a solid in a strange way by the solid parts "spreading" through the liquid and "consuming", for what of a better word, the liquid.

    Does anyone know why this may have happened?

    The formula is this:
    HEATED,WATER,PHASE,
    25%,surfactantof,choice, (I chose sodium coco sulfate in solid noodle form)
    15%,cocamidopropyl,betaine,
    54.5%,distilled,water,
    3%,glycerin,
    2%,polyquat,7

    COOL DOWN PHASE:
    0.5% Preservative 
    I wouldn’t suggest you use a solid surfactant in a liquid product like this, and I can assure you I’ve never used sodium coco sulfate in this way. (I have used SCS in maybe 10 formulas over 12 years, and all of them were in solid products.) Your product solidified because you used a solid surfactant. I tried working with SCI like this in 2009, but I updated those posts to reflect the fails I experienced with re-solidification, and I’ve written in greater detail since about what I learned and what I would do differently now. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed those formulas have been shared by others without noting they originated from my blog and that they would re-solidify. 

    Actually, your comment does indeed suggest that a solid surfactant should not be used in liquid products.  The product solidified because the OP used too much solid surfactant in a liquid product, not simply because it is a solid surfactant.  It's a clarification.
    If we’re being exact about language, I guess my English degree and years of professional writing comes in pretty handy right now. What I said was, “I wouldn’t suggest you use a solid surfactant in a liquid product like this...” The important part is the “like this” bit because if you wanted to use a solid surfactant in a liquid product, I would suggest other formulas, other ingredients, and other processes, and not this formula for that application. But I have no desire to quibble with you or anyone else when there’s so many interesting things to study and debate, so I yield the floor to you. 
  • I am not quibbling with you ... just being more precise because "liquid product like this" could be interpreted to mean any liquid product.

    So to be clear:  Yes, you CAN use solid surfactants in liquid products, you just need to use the correct amount.  Use too much solid surfactant and your liquid product will solidify.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    Provides Formulation Development and Lab-Scale Contract Manufacturing Services.  See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com

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