Help with conditioner!

Hi guys,
I've been making this light spray on conditioner for about 4 years and it's been fine. Suddenly at the bottom of the tank there is a rubbery sludge that can only be scrubbed off with a scourer and it's ruining all of my filling equipment.  This so called sludge just won't come off with anything but a scourer and I have to throw the scourer away as it sticks to my hand! The only way I could describe the consistency is it's like melted blu-tac and I am totally stumped.  I thought perhaps I had changed my method unknowlingly.. I've spoken to a chemist and they suggested the ethanol was 'shocking' the eo's and producing a wax.  I tried changing the method to no avail.  I have no idea so I thought perhaps you guys might have some ideas as to what is going on. Here is the formula

Phase A: 
0.1% edta
Distilled water
Phase B:
1% Hydrolysed Wheat Protein
0.5% Panthenol (100% Active powder)
1% organic extracts (glycerine based)
0.2% polyquat 7
1% Optiphen Plus 
Phase C:
0.25% Essential Oils
0.6% Polysorbate 20
0.15% Ethanol

pH is 5 (I know that's a little high for a conditioner but that's another story)

1. Heat Phase A to 40 degrees celsuis
2. Add Phase B to Phase A while mixing
3. Add Ethanol to EO's and mix til thoroughly dispersed
4. Add PS20 to EO's & mix til thoroughly dispersed
5. Add Phase C to Phase A
6. Add qs water to Phase A (I try to add it slowly)


  • That's really weird because based on what you described I was thinking you have tons of wax in your formula. You don't! 

    The theory about the ethanol fits to a small small degree but so small that if there was any wax produced it should be unnoticeable (0.25% is very tiny) as a sludge. Also, I think it's more likely that you would notice the sludge in pre-mix B, not in the final tank. 

    What I suggest, is to make a lab batch in the same order and with the same material you're making in production. Find out what stage you have sludge forming and identify the culprit that way.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    If I had to guess off the top of my head, I'd say the panthenol was kicking out, just from your description of the gunk you have.

    You need to run a knock-out series to confirm this, but if I were you, I'd start with three test batches:
    1) no panthenol
    2) no wheat protein
    3) no EO's

    After you figure out what's kicking out, you have to figure out why it has suddenly gone bad, so you need to find out what's changed - because clearly, something has.
    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."
  • I'm not sure if polyquat 7 is compatible with optiphen plus. In some cases there might be precipitation.

    If you use the same tank for such a long time, perhaps this sludge is depositing all over the time once and again. Then suddenly (but not immediately) you notice them.
    Research & Development Manager Brazil at Alfaparf Milano.
    Owner and Content Director at Cosmetica em Foco.
  • Thanks alot for your comments - really appreciated.
    I have done so many knock outs my head is spinning but I will try again.  Not sure if I did a knock out of panthenol powder - I just replaced it with the liquid panthenol so will try without any panthenol.
    Good point about the tank too.  It is very clean with the majority of my counts coming back at <30 but there still could be residual sludge. 
    Will let you all know how it goes.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    All good suggestions. There might also be some interaction with the Polyquat 7 and another ingredient so if you are looking for more knockout experiments, making a batch without the PQ7 would be another thing to test.

    Of course, I'm not sure why you say you've done a ton of knockout experiments. If you do them systematically you shouldn't get confused. If you did a complete knockout experiment with your formula you could do it in a maximum of 10 batches
  • the error in this formula is that pq7 is not compatible with ethanol
  • johnbjohnb Member
    fletland - I think this problem has been dealt with (check the dates).

    I don't think the level of ethanol (0.15%) is of importance in this.
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