Difference between polysorbate 20, 60 and 80

Can you help me figure out the difference between polysorbate 20, 60 and 80?

Comments

  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    Different in which regard? They aren't the same chemicals but closely related... see PICTURE.
  • So all of them are exthoxylated surfactants. The higher the number, the more moles of ethylene oxide was used. E.g. 20 means 20 moles. You are basically making them more water-loving. 
  • Pharma said:
    Different in which regard? They aren't the same chemicals but closely related... see PICTURE.
    In the sense, how can I decide when to use 20, 40, 60 or 80?
  • PharmaPharma Member, Pharmacist
    With these, you may work with the HLB system.
    Also, unlike @Paprik stated, the number does not correspond to the moles of ethylene oxide! It's the case with many other surfactants but not with polysorbates. The ones you're asking for all have 20 ethylene oxide monomers per molecule and differ only in the type of fatty acid, ranging from lauric acid in Tween 20 over palmtic (Tween 40) and stearic (Tween 60) to oleic acid (Tween 80). The latter is liquid due to the oleic acid which is a factor to consider. Depending on your product, one or the other might be a better partner if you use them as co-emulsifiers (which most do).
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