Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating How do I thicken and mix essential oils

  • How do I thicken and mix essential oils

    Posted by Michaelv03 on August 20, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    I have been trying to find a way to thicken essential oils and create a stable mix of essential oils and a non-toxic thickening agent such as glycerine, basically creating a mix that does not separate at room temperature).

    I will use this mix for many different purposes, such as insect control and masking odors. The mixture I am trying to create is also supposed to be stable when it gets in contact with water.

    I tried this with real essential oils as well as D-Limonene.

    For example I tried mixing D-Limonene with glycerin. Regardless of how many parts glycerin or D-Limonene I used, without an emulsifying agent the two will of course not mix at all.

    I have had people recommend I use soap or detergent to emulsify it (does not work), nor did emulsifying wax (I would prefer not to have to use wax) and guar gum etc tends to separate and get clumpy in water.

    D-Limonene is a very light, ‘thin’ oily liquid. So glycerin seems like a good choice for thickening it but how can I get it to mix and ensure it remains a stable mixture without the need to shake it before use.

    If there is a better solution than glycerin to make this work, please let me know.

    I’d appreciate any and all help. I am a newbie, so please excuse my ignorance.

    Michaelv03 replied 7 years, 2 months ago 5 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • belassi

    August 21, 2016 at 12:15 am

    First of all, I am glad to see if I can help because you have already gone to the trouble of experimenting with materials, rather than just asking to be spoon fed. As a result of your experiments you determined that glycerine and EOs don’t mix without an emulsifier, 100% correct.
    Glycerin is really not the right thing. It is polar; your oils are nonpolar. Therefore we need to be looking for an effective thickener for nonpolar solutions. (Any mix of oils is technically a solution). 
    Now, this is not really near my area of interest, and I have no experience with it myself, but from the literature, you might take a look at the sugar ester, Sucragel (you’d want the variety that comes without added oil):
    Sucragel from Alfa Chemicals, distributed by Impag, is a liquid emulsifier system of natural origin and is also a good thickener for all nonpolar lipids. The product range is based on sugar derivatives and makes the interesting properties of sugar esters available in a user-friendly form. Using Sucragel it is easy to produce highly viscous oily gels. It can convert almost any non-polar emollient into an oily gel.

  • Michaelv03

    August 22, 2016 at 4:10 am

    Wow! Superb advice. Thank you so very much, Belassi.
    Yes, I have indeed been experimenting for quite some time before I even considered asking on a forum (I thought it was gonna be relatively easy mixing stuff together, ignorant me lol).
    Being a complete novice, I would have never even thought of the ‘polar vs non polar’ rule nor had I heard of Sucragel.
    I will definitely look into the Sucragel now though.
    Once again, I appreciate your help very much, thank you!!

  • Bobzchemist

    August 24, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    You might also want to look into using fumed silica.

  • Michaelv03

    August 27, 2016 at 2:05 am

    Hi Bobzchemist, thank you very much. 

  • Michaelv03

    September 13, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Hello again, I have tried Sucragel. While it is a great emulsifier, for my desired purposes it won’t work as it ‘falls apart’ when in contact with water.
    Now I am wondering if there is a way to mix an Essential oil (such as D-Limonene with a ‘filler’ oil such as Canola oil, as this would be an alternative approach for my project. Perhaps by heating the 2 oils. I have previously tried using alcohol or soaps to get the 2 oils to mix but it did not work. Any tips?
    The idea is to create a stable mix of these 2 oils that won’t need shaking, but will remain mixed at normal room temperature. In any case, I think I should also start a new thread on the forum regarding this question.
    Thanks again for all your kind help.

  • chemicalmatt

    September 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    D-Limonene is a terpene, canola, et.al are unsaturated triglyceride polar oils.  Try the wonderful Finsolv TN (C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate) to be miscible with the terpene FIRST, then add this cocktail to the canola oil. How many times must I ask it: what CAN’T Finsolv TN do?  If it doesn’t work here, then you are off to the miscible co-solvent land: dipropylene glycol, sorbitan oleate, etc., etc.  

  • David

    September 13, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    this could be an option. (haven’t tried it though)

  • Michaelv03

    September 13, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Thank you, chemicalmatt and David! Will try the mentioned products!

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