HEC issues in formulation

I have been trying to figure out using HEC to thicken a dishwash detergent - I have tried countless methods of addition, order of ingredients etc.  I have read blogs, searched, read through manufacturers materials regarding HEC and I'm at a loss.  The issue that I run into is the HEC floating to the top of the formulation after it has set for any length of time.  I have tried making a gell out of it then adding my surfactants, I have added the surfactants in different orders, I have tried adjusting ph of decyl glucoside before addition to the formulation and at the end of formulation - no matter what I have tried I can quite seem to figure out what I'm missing, where I am making my mistake or mistakes.  It always seems to fail around the ph adjustments 

Decyl glucoside 10%
AOS 40 10%
Lauramine oxide 5%
Cocamidopropyl betaine 5%
Citic acid to adjust ph 
Water qs

I know my issues has to be with method, I've had this work with various other thickeners like Sepimax Zen, Aqua SF 1 - I know I could use another thickener successfully, but now I'm on a quest to figure out where I'm screwing up, and I figured this would be the best place to ask.  Thank you in advance for any pointers, or scientific explanation of where I'm going wrong.


  • FarrukhFarrukh Member
    HEC is anionic thickener it charges alkali 
    Before adding it to detergent you have prepare it for this
    You should pour it into water use electric heater to dissolve it completely then pour little bit caustic soda after that it gets thick then add it in detergent I hope you will get good results
  • All references I've read have said it's non-ionic, but I have employed heating the water while mixing with an overhead mixer for various lengths of time - when I made the gel first the gel was perfect and crystal clear, till I added the surfactant mix - then after setting and cooling HEC pooled at the top. Than you for your response! I have also tried to adjust the Ph up with 18% NaOH solution - that still yielded the same result with HEC floating to the top.
  • HEC and most of the cellulose derived thickeners are partially compatible with surfactants. They have a concentration threshold above which they precipitate.
    I usually use the HEC (100 000) from Shin Etsu. It can withstand up to 5% surface active matter, some other brands claim their HEC can withstand more, so I recommend that you try and detect this threshold before using it as a thickener in your products.
  • Chemicalpyros - thank you for the response, I had thought about there being a threshold, but im only using the HEC at .5% - and the TDS that I've read through has said upto 3%.  
  • The threshold is for the limit of the compatibility between the HEC and the concentration of the surfactants.
    My HEC at 2% can withhold 5% of surfactants.
    Above 5% surfactants the HEC will precipitate.
    So you can try your HEC at 0.5% vs several concentrations of surfactants to determine this threshold.
  • Ah, okay - thank you kindly for that explanation 
  • HenryHenry Member
    hello, for my clarification of what was just said..... HEC is has a % limit of compatibility with surfactants.  So if I had a "cleanser" with 20% of surfactant concentration and was using HEC as a thickener would have some issues achieving a higher viscosity.

     If this should happen what could you add or do to help it? 
  • Use HPMC instead of HEC.
    Reduce decyl Glucoside to %1 or replace it with lauryl Glucoside. 
    %10 decyl Glucoside is very difficult to thicken
  • Abdullah, thank you for the recommendation.  I am quickly finding Decyl Glucoside to be a pain to work with - is there some reason the decyl glucoside and cellulose derivative thickeners don't work well together? Thank you for you time.
  • I don't know the reason but i know APGs at high amounts are not compatible with cellulose. Also decyl Glucoside is very hard to thicken but lauryl is very easy. 
  • HenryHenry Member
    @Farrukh ;
    "HEC is anionic thickener it charges alkali"

     hello can you explain this further? I have the general understanding but literature does state this is non ionic.
  • Thank you Abdullah!
  • FarrukhFarrukh Member
    edited May 1
    Henry said:
    @Farrukh ;
    "HEC is anionic thickener it charges alkali"

     hello can you explain this further? I have the general understanding but literature does state this is non ionic.
    Sorry it's my mistake this is non ionic
  • FarrukhFarrukh Member
    Farrukh said:
    Henry said:
    @Farrukh ;
    "HEC is anionic thickener it charges alkali"

     hello can you explain this further? I have the general understanding but literature does state this is non ionic.
    Sorry it's my mistake this is non ionic
  • kotkot Member, PCF student
    Thank you Abdullah!
    You're not alone here i was wondering too and the owner of this blog too- have a look maybe, you'll find something here 
  • PaprikPaprik Member

    HEC needs to be hydrated with ALL water available from the formula. 
    So, if you will add that to a water and add surfactants after, most of surfactants also contain water, which won't be available for the HEC.

    So, proper method is:
    Add water and all surfactants together.
    -If you have any essential oil or lipid (which is not recommended, maximum 1% and it's just for marketing), you need to solubilise it first and add to surfactants phase. 
    Once everything is mixed, you can add your HEC. This way, all the available water will be there and HEC will grab all of it. Disperse properly.
    Alkalize it to pH > 7, let it "swell", once ready, you can adjust pH to desired/requested value. 

    Hope that helps.
  • Paprika, thank you for your response.  Unfortunately I have tried this method and something about the decyl glucoside rejects the HEC - I have yet to come across a source that explains what about that particular surfactant is causing the issue.
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