Cosmetic Science Talk

Cosmetic Science discussion form. For people who want for formulate cosmetics and get advice from other formulators around the world.

Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Ethanol as a broad spectrum preservative

  • Ethanol as a broad spectrum preservative

    Posted by mmemenai on February 3, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Hello everyone :) ))))) I am trying to repeat the Weleda cream for sensitive skin and I want to use Ethanol as the only preservative in it. My question  is how much of Ethanol I need to add to emulsion to have a broad spectrum preservation system and what ° ethanol should be??? And i am sorry in advance if this question sounds stupid for someone!! I am not a chemist))))) :'(

    Inci Weleda:
    Water
    Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (sw.almond)oil
    Alcohol
    Glyceryl Stearate SE
    Hydrolyzed Beeswax 
    Prunus Domestica Seed oil
    Glycerin 
    Xanthan gum
    Lactic acid

    floragood replied 11 months, 2 weeks ago 6 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • floragood

    Member
    February 25, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Hi All - this looks like an old thread but it is exactly what I have been searching for. I have been using more natural preservatives in my skin cream but would like to try organic 190 proof grape alcohol as a preservative. I have two questions. My understanding is that the alcohol needs to be 15-20% to effectively preserve the skin cream. But is that of total volume or just the water phase. Second at what stage do you add the alcohol and should it be warmed to the temp of the emulsion?

  • Perry

    Member
    February 9, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    @PhilGeis - interesting.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    February 9, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Perry, an obscure historic regulatory problem with ethanol.  Think 1989 or ’90, shortage of SD40 alcohol disrupted
    the industry – we couldn’t make hair sprays and gels and alcohol
    deodorants. 

    Issue - noncompliant SD40 alcohol.  Brucine (SD40 denaturant aka dimethoxy
    strychnine) included impurity strychnine > ATF standard.  World’s brucine supply from a few plantations
    (from seeds of nux vomica tree) in India came via a single supplier, and alcohol
    suppliers apparently no paid  attention
    until crisis.  No idea why supply that
    one year was off – not reported before or since.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    February 4, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks Perry - maybe not yet - but if CARB thinks it a source (and 20% will look significant) , they’ll place a limit. 

  • Perry

    Member
    February 4, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    @PhilGeis - yes, I don’t know the regulations exactly but I recall that styling gels were included and when I was formulating, there was movement on including shampoos, moisturizers, and other personal care products. Not sure where the regulations stand at the moment.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    February 4, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    If you are trying to keep to environmental regulations and go natural you can use ethanol that is produced from grains and is just called Bio-ethanol.
    Why do you only want to use ethanol as your only preservative. If you have to use up to 20% as Perry suggested, then this would change the viscosity, have you tried it out yet.
    Please let us know how you go? Cheers Catherine

    The regulations I think Perry addressed focus on VOC’s as chemicals and do not exempt “Bio-ethanol”.  Example: California’s ARB regs - don’t think they’ve placed regulatory limits on VOC’s from lotions at this point.   Most other states and the feds follow some aspect of California’s.  https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/cp_reg_article-2.pdf

  • mmemenai

    Member
    February 4, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    If you are trying to keep to environmental regulations and go natural you can use ethanol that is produced from grains and is just called Bio-ethanol.
    Why do you only want to use ethanol as your only preservative. If you have to use up to 20% as Perry suggested, then this would change the viscosity, have you tried it out yet.
    Please let us know how you go? Cheers Catherine

    Thank you for your answer,  Dr Catherine Pratt!
    I just want to copy the Weleda formula, that’s why I use only ethanol. I will try to use it at different % to see how it goes!!

  • Dr Catherine Pratt

    Member
    February 4, 2021 at 3:05 pm
    If you are trying to keep to environmental regulations and go natural you can use ethanol that is produced from grains and is just called Bio-ethanol.
    Why do you only want to use ethanol as your only preservative. If you have to use up to 20% as Perry suggested, then this would change the viscosity, have you tried it out yet.
    Please let us know how you go? Cheers Catherine
  • mmemenai

    Member
    February 4, 2021 at 6:40 am

    Pharma said:

    20% with regard to the water phase. Also, in combination with glycerol and a low pH, less might work.
    Say you’d have 50% water, 6-8% ethanol, and a few % glycerol at pH 4.5 should be enough to stop anything from growing (not killing any microbes but just stopping them from growing).

    Thank you Pharma for your answer)))))))

  • Pharma

    Member
    February 3, 2021 at 8:25 pm
    20% with regard to the water phase. Also, in combination with glycerol and a low pH, less might work.
    Say you’d have 50% water, 6-8% ethanol, and a few % glycerol at pH 4.5 should be enough to stop anything from growing (not killing any microbes but just stopping them from growing).
  • mmemenai

    Member
    February 3, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Perry said:

    You need at least 20% ethanol to be a preservative. But a significant problem is that ethanol is classified as a VOC which generally puts it in violation of environmental regulations if you use it at that level in something like a lotion.

    Thank you Perry!!!! So you think that Weleda use less than 20%?? Can it work that way in this formula???because I don’t think that they are using more than 20%of almond oil!?

  • Perry

    Member
    February 3, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    You need at least 20% ethanol to be a preservative. But a significant problem is that ethanol is classified as a VOC which generally puts it in violation of environmental regulations if you use it at that level in something like a lotion.