What would make this smell like sulfur?

gld010gld010 Member
edited March 2018 in Formulating
I was putting together a fluid emulsion for someone and I noticed it had a faint sulfur smell. Left it overnight and the smell got way worse-- I opened the container this morning I got hit in the face with it. I know the obvious solution is to rework the formula, which I am doing, but I am really curious-- have any of you experienced something like this before? What combination in this IL would give off a sulfur smell?
The water is fine, no one else has had this issue with this batch of DI water we are using.

62.1% Water
.1% Xanthan gum
1% Geogard Ultra (not that great but was specifically requested)
10% butylene glycol
3% ethylhexyl stearate
1% diisostearyl malate
1.3% montanov 68
.5% cetyl alcohol
1% squalane
20% pigments


  • Tried a new formula that replaced ethylhexyl stearate with caprylic/capric triglyceride and diisostearyl malate with tridecyl trimellitate and it still stank. I paid more attention this time and the smell comes at the time of emulsion, precicely when I pour the oil into water. Going to try olivem 1000 next.
  • mariamaria Member
    edited March 2018
    I'm the less qualified in this forum, but it's right here that I learnt that ultramarine in pigments may turn the final product to smell like hell. A pH problem.

    Occasionally, ultramarine blue is used in products for very dark complexions, as long at the pH is above 7. Exposure to acid causes the evolution of hydrogen sulfide
  • Oh, interesting! I did use an ultramarine pink so that is probably it. I will pay attention to pH and adjust as necessary. My only other experience with ultramarines is in powders and not emulsions.

    I'll have to change preservatives because of the sodium benzoate in the Geogard ultra is only effective below pH 6-- I'll have to ask the client what she would prefer.
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    I agree with @maria, it's most likely your ultramarines that are causing the smell; there's no other obvious cause for it
    UK based cosmetic chemist with 13 years' experience at the bench. I've worked with pretty much everything apart from pressed powders, soap, solid lipstick and aerosols.
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