marshmallow root, slippery elm, burdock root - MUCILAGE

LisaKLisaK Member
edited March 2014 in Formulating


I want to formulate a (mostly) natural hair conditioner that has detangling properties.  I have a few Qs about marshmallow root, slippery elm, burdock root in formulations.

  1. Can they be reused after boiling (like flax seed can)?
  2. What ratio should be applied?
  3. Is marshmallow root extract thick and mucous-like as well? 

Thanks for your help or advice :)

btw...I am using btms 50 and cetyl alcohol to along with oils to be emulsified with purified water.  The infusions/extract would become my water phase.    


  • mikebavingtonmikebavington Member
    edited March 2014
    I have never used marshmallow root or slippery elm, but I suppose it would behave similar in fashion to how xanthan gum behaves.

    When you use a mucilage or polysaccharide in water as a thickening agent, the viscosity obviously depends on the percentage of the ingredient used. When you further boil that solution, the water will evaporate more and more, therefore raising the percentage concentration.

    This will result in a thicker and thicker solution, going forward, once everything cools.

    These types of ingredients - marshmallow root, slippery elm, xanthan
    gum, etc. are ideal environments for microbes to grow. Obviously, when
    you boil the solution, it should be sterile, but if you are going to
    keep it aside and reuse it many times later on, you have to make sure
    that the container you are storing it in is SUPER CLEAN and that you
    refrigerate the solution immediately. Even then, you will probably get
    contamination within 24 hours of it cooling. So, if
    you are going to store it and reuse it, I would add a perservative to
    the mucilage.

    In a hair care product, a mucilage or polysaccharide will thicken the hair, but will leave a powdered residue buildup over time, I suppose. You might want to use a co-solvent to keep the remaining mucilage or polysaccharide on the hair from becoming 'flaky' once the water has evaporated after application.

    In terms of ratios to use, I would start off using 0.25% and then add in increments of 0.10%, until you get the desired consistency you want.
  • LisaKLisaK Member

    Thank you Mike!  I really appreciate your feedback.

    I wondered if you could re-boil the roots again after they have already been used.  I have not seen marshmallow root extract, but something tells me it is just like a watery tea opposed to a mucilage.   

  • kotkot Member, PCF student
    LisaK boiling and re-boiling marshmallow root, slippery elm, burdock root will kill all the goodness in them. For instance marshmallow root is actually only needs a cold water- google it you'll find loads of info on marshmallow root. Whats the point then using the roots if they've lost their goodness?? 
  • LisaKLisaK Member
    edited March 2014

    Yes, I have Googled it. I wanted to know if it is possible (like flaxseed) to reuse. Both these roots have excellent detangling properties for hair.  So the priority would be to detangle naturally, secondary benefit would be their wonderful 'goodness'  Other items in the product will provide good nutrients, and slip. 

    Thank you for your response.  

    I still do not know if the tinctures will have the same slippery properties.  I will have to test it soon.

    Thanks again.

  • I've read in online articles, etc. where you can create a cold infusion. There are different formulas but they equate pretty much any where from 88% to 95% water (lukewarm) and the rest of the percentage is marshmallow root. Add the marshmallow root to the lukewarm water and refrigerate overnight. Strain the marshmallow root from the infusion this will leave the mucilage. I'm looking to create a leave-in detangler as well by adding marshmallow root to my formula.
  • Hello, I have been using marshmallow extract in my water phase for a couple of years. The MSDS says not to use excess heat, which I assume means don' t take it to flash point (above 200f). Recently I ran across the swiftcraftymonkey blog where she says, shes not sure of the temp it can handle and uses it in her cool down. a few other blogs says to use cool water. Should I follow suit or stick with the water phase? Bought from formulator sample shop which only says that it is water soluble. Hoping someone can shed a little light on this for me. Thanks a bunch.
  • johnbjohnb Member, Professional Chemist
    Another thread resurrected from the archives.

    The original premise was the mucilages produced by marshmallow, slippery elm and burdock. It is now discussing extracts - which are not necessarily the same thing and looking at some small suppliers pages marketing these extracts, the term mucilage does not fit with the products on sale.

    Before any realistic further discussion takes place, there ought to be a definition of the subject.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @johnb - yes, some threads just keep coming back

    @mariamiller - It's unlikely that you'll notice any difference in the performance of your product whether you use marshmallow extract or not. For this reason I doubt it matters at all when you put it in the formula.
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