Need inspiration: Triacontanol or 'cosmetics for plants'

PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
Good day community,

I could need some inspiration, creative ideas, brainstorming etc... regarding triacontanol.

You don't need to know what triacontanol exactly is, just that it's a C-30 fatty alcohol usually derived from bees wax (the crude alcohol mixture is know as policosanol and used in cosmetics and nutraceuticals) and hence has a very low HLB (I'd guess ~1) and a high melting point of 87°C.

The thing is that it's known as plant growth stimulant active at low nM concentrations (~1-10 ppm) and my garden could really need some!

Originally, it was found to be most active in a micronised crystalline suspension but obviously this was found by plant biologists who usually have zero idea bout formulations and the like. Anyway, the Chinese agroindustry and many agrochemical companies picked it up and produce their own formulas. Likely to cut costs, the standard is now an excess Tween-20 (polysorbate 20), PEG block-polymers, Brij, or ethoxylated alkylphenols. Even gardeners make their own emulsions/suspensions and are often forced to add SDS or even dishwashers to achieve a clear, transparent solution. High amounts of surfactants are used not only to obtain a stable concentrate but also due the strong dilution sufficient for an activity; thereby, the surfactant added does also act as wetter/spreader and won't fall below CMC and become a solute. I don't necessarily need a wetter/spreader and would instead prefer a lesser amount of surfactant: problem is that the concentration will likely drop below CMC and I have no idea what happens then to the triacontanol which is probably not soluble at the aimed 10 ppm...
Cause I don't like eating PEGs I'm now looking for innovative, even crazy ideas what I could try. Only restriction is that the additives have to be edible and rather quickly biodegradable (for example sugar or amino acid based surfactants). I'm currently thinking about mixed aspasomes and liposomes but there, the additives are in large excess with regard to triacontanol.

Appreciate any kind of idea!


  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Forgot to say:
    The stock 'solution' should, for practical reasons, contain about 1% triacontanol, and has to be stable.
    This will be diluted 1'000 times in water and sprayed on plants or diluted 100 times and used for irrigation. This solution should be stable for at least a day, longer would be better.
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    Amazing, I was just looking at the Triplantanol site. Does Willie Nelson know about it, I wonder?
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    edited March 2015
    He sure does. That community uses more than just triacontanol to boost yields ;) .

    BTW I know that music can be inspiring but that wasn't what I was looking for LoL.
  • What about micro- or nanoemulsions? Do you have the resources for that?
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Thanks for you input!
    I'm not really well equipped right now but I have ultrasound and can improvise.
    Any suggestions for a formulation which might tolerate a high percentage of triacontanol?
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    This sounds like it could be a great experiment using non-traditional emulsifiers.

    Try 1 formulation using Pemulen TR-1, and one using a liquid crystal emulsifier like Olivem 1000 or Montanov 68 - see which one works better.

    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Thanks for the brain food!
    Though, a polymer and especially one which isn't highly water soluble is a no-go for me (although it might result in a better depot effect) but I like your idea of a self-emulsifying system. Applying something like a liquid crystal structure on plants is... I don't know. Which gets me intrigued :) . Alkylpolyglucosides such as contained in Montanov 68 are already used on plants with good success due an optimal surface tension. The rather low HLB of the liquid crystal emulsifiers, though rather irrelevant regarding stability, bothers me a bit; I want that tria to diffuse out of there and into the plant; less 'likeliness' might be preferable.

    Thanks to you two I just realised that I don't know how and where exactly triacontanol acts on plants and this point is likely the key to success. Is it sufficient to penetrate the cuticle (-> Olivem 1000) or does it need to enter through the stomata (-> Micro-/nanoemulsion) like most 'foliar feeds'?
    Please keep the ideas coming! It works! ^_^
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