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  • INCI Conventions- Rules for naming soaps

    Posted by Dr_Sara on August 3, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    I am looking for the specific rule that governs the INCI assignment of soaps made from common oils (either sodium or potassium).

    The convention is that the common name of the oil or fat is used with the suffix “ate”. The salt is specified before the oil. For example, Coconut oil soap made with sodium hydroxide is Sodium Cocoate.

    Soapmakers are using a wider variety of plant oils to make soap. I am looking for the INCI convention for naming soaps from less common oils. End products that may not have an assigned INCI name.

    The Personal Care Products Council lists the nomenclature convention.

    I believe there is a general rule that applies to assign INCI names to soap and am hoping a proper chemist can help me. :)

    I think it may fall under the following nomenclature conventions. Common name and “ate” for the resulting ester?

    55. Mixtures of mono-, di- and tri-esters of glycerin are designated by the suffix “-ates”, (e.g., Glyceryl Stearates.)   
    31…In general, Latin binomial names are not used for botanicals that have been chemically modified. Botanicals that have a widely recognized common name (e.g., Olive Oil), and have undergone chemical modification may be named by common name and type of process, e.g., Acetylated Castor Oil, Hydrogenated Rapeseed Glycerides, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Oxidized Hazel Seed Oil, Ozonized Olive Oil, Saccharomyces/Grape Ferment Extract. In the absence of a previously monographed common name, or common name not widely known, the genus/species name may be utilized to name derivatives, e.g., Schinziophyton Rautanenii Oil Polyglyceryl-6 Esters.   

    Thanks in advance!
    Dr Sara

    Dr_Sara replied 3 years, 9 months ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • chemicalmatt

    August 3, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Dr Sara, you answered your own question correctly. The anion based on the primary fatty acid source is termed -ate, as in olivate, meadowfoamate, cocoate. The alkali metal cation is obvious and named first. Should you have more than one fatty acid comprising the soap made in situ, name them all or just name the primary one (who’s checking anyway, right?). No need to list the free alkali: a common blunder that scares off sales when a consumer reads Sodium Hydroxide and is essentially meaningless when you consider the stoichiometric equilibrium. 

  • Dr_Sara

    August 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Dear Chemicalmatt,
    Thank you so much. Did I cite the correct INCI nomenclature conventions? Numbers 31 and 55? I like to have a source. 

    In the UK/EU we list the ingredients that are in the finished product. You should not see a soap label that lists sodium hydroxide and omits glycerin. It is a dead giveaway that the manufacturer is unaware of the legislation and probably does not have a CPSR
    Kind regards,

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