Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

  • Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

    Posted by paprik on February 14, 2022 at 6:11 pm

    Hello guys, I need help.

    I have failed so many samples now, I think it’s time to borrow your brains.
    I’m having problem with thickening my surfactant system with HEC.

    Formula is around this:

    Phase A
    69.5% Water
    12% Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate 
    12% Cocamidopropyl betaine
    4% Coco glucoside
    1% Euxyl PE 9010

    Phase B
    1.5% HEC 

    Phase C
    q.s. Sodium Hydroxide 30% to pH>8

    1) I combine phase A under low shear (overhead mixer) until homogenous.
    2) I add slowly HEC until fully dispersed and homogenous. Mix under low shear for another minute or two. ( I’m making sure pH is<7 )
    3) Add phase C to pH > 8 (usually end up around 9)
    4) I mix and mix and mix. (I do not lower the pH to get the HEC time)

    I come next day and there is this HEC layer floating on the top or sitting on the bottom. 

    I tried mixing it for longer, shorted, increasing pH higher. 
    Nothing helped. Am I missing something? 

    Thanks guys!

    chemicalmatt replied 2 years, 1 month ago 9 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • ketchito

    Member
    February 15, 2022 at 3:08 am

    @Paprik Perhaps you could try adding (sprinkling with high agitation) the HEC to the water before the surfactants? In that way, you’ll give it time to hydrate…also, adding a tiny amount of base to the HEC solution can help speed up the hydration process.

  • Mondonna

    Member
    February 15, 2022 at 4:45 am

    I second @ketchito. I would definitely add HEC to water and let it hydrate for 10-20 min. To reduce the hydration time you can warm the water phase or bring the PH a bit up. Is the HEC you are using R grade?

  • abdullah

    Member
    February 15, 2022 at 11:44 am

    In my experience hec is not very compatible with glucosides.

    it is not compatable with high amount of surfactants. I made 3% surfactant and it worked, 10% surfactant and it didn’t work so i didn’t use hec in shampoo after that. 

    It cant give you that 5-10k cst viscosity in any amount. So HPMC is a much better option. Can give up to 200k cst viscosity, support high surfactants and is less expensive. Although this is also not very compatible with glucosides.

  • oldperry

    Member
    February 15, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    I’ll chime in with my experience.  It seems contradictory but HEC added to COLD water actually dissolves better.  Our procedure was to start with room temperature or colder water, add the HEC, let it hydrate for 15 to 20 min, then add the rest of the ingredients.

  • paprik

    Member
    February 15, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks guys. @ketchito @Mondonna @Abdullah @Perry
    I agree with Perry it does dissolve better in cold water. 

    From my study with IPCS adding HEC before the surfactants is a no no. 
    As those surfactants contain water too, the gum would not hydrate with all water available and after adding additional water (with surfactants) it will separate. But it is actually happening now. So will definitely try it. 
    Thanks again :) 

  • ketchito

    Member
    February 16, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    @Paprik Just out of curiosity, did you add some base before adding surfactants (and after mixing and hydrating the polymer)? Since these polymers are highly hygroscopic, manufacturers add a layer of acidic mantle to “delay” hydration (that’s what the “R” stands for when you see the material code). So, adding a base helps get rid of the mantle, speeds hydration, and increases both viscosity and clarity. But mainly, it helps the polymer to expand, and this is crucial since when you add surfactants, there’ll be no room for the polymer to expand properly and interact with surfactants (a lack of polymer expansion might prevent a proper polymer-surfactant interaction, causing separation). 

  • paprik

    Member
    February 16, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    @ketchito, yes I did. 
    Yesterday I tried your method, adding HEC before anything else. I mixed til properly suspended and add a few drops of Sodium Hydroxide. To pH around 8 - 9. Waited until it cleared and thick gel formed (10 - 15 mins I think). Mix for couple more minutes and add my surfactant blend. Mixed til homogenous, mixed a bit more and adjusted the pH to 5.5 - 6.0. 

    This morning (half an hour ago :D ) I went to my lab and … that damned separated layer was there.

    I’m starting to think the HEC won’t be compatible with this load of surfactants maybe. I have Methocel, but wasn’t playing with it yet. Only ones and it didn’t go into the water easily like HEC, so I kind of gave up on it :D Guess big mistake. 

  • Debskintivity

    Member
    February 17, 2022 at 12:18 pm

    Mix hec with glycerine before adding it to the surfactant. 

  • abdullah

    Member
    February 18, 2022 at 6:17 am

    Paprik said:

    @ketchito, yes I did. 
    Yesterday I tried your method, adding HEC before anything else. I mixed til properly suspended and add a few drops of Sodium Hydroxide. To pH around 8 - 9. Waited until it cleared and thick gel formed (10 - 15 mins I think). Mix for couple more minutes and add my surfactant blend. Mixed til homogenous, mixed a bit more and adjusted the pH to 5.5 - 6.0. 

    This morning (half an hour ago :D ) I went to my lab and … that damned separated layer was there.

    I’m starting to think the HEC won’t be compatible with this load of surfactants maybe. I have Methocel, but wasn’t playing with it yet. Only ones and it didn’t go into the water easily like HEC, so I kind of gave up on it :D Guess big mistake. 

    If by methocel you mean HPMC, it is very easy.
    Just add it to small amount of hot water and mix,then add this hot water to cold water while mixing 

  • missmorganlang

    Member
    February 19, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    Whenever I used HEC in my water based formulas (serums, cleansers…etc) I will take a portion of the water (usually about 10-15% of total water) and heat it to 60C on a hot stir plate. When the water gets to about 50C I’ll add all the HEC to it.  When it hits 60C the HEC absorbs like lighting into the water and forms a jelly type substance.  Depending on your HEC/water ratio the jelly will be thicker or thinner.  After I’m done formulating everything, I’ll add that HEC jelly back into the formula while I’m mixing (high shear mixer like Silvers) after everything else (mix for about 4-5 minutes) and before any surfactants.  My typical HEC usage is between 0.2% and 0.7%.   Your 1.5% seems super high.

  • GeorgeBenson

    Member
    February 21, 2022 at 6:40 am

    @Paprik I use HPMC using a method almost identical to what @missmorganlang described above and it works great in my shampoo. Love it. I tried using HEC once or twice but it didn’t work for me, always separated.

  • paprik

    Member
    February 21, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    @missmorganlang ; @GeorgeBenson .. thanks guys.
    Will definitely try it. 

  • chemicalmatt

    Member
    February 24, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    @Paprik I’ll go with @Abdullah and @GeorgeBenson here: I’ve never had good results with HEC and alkyl glucosides, or with many other surfactant combinations. The resin to use here is hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (Methocel F4M or 40-100 from DOW) otherwise called HPMC. 

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