The Wide World of Emulsifiers

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KristaY

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Is confusing me! I'm trying to research ways to emulsify lavender EO into witch hazel which is 14% alcohol. I use PS80 to emulsify EO/FO into LS but it doesn't look like it will work on alcohol/oil systems.

I found a product called EmulThix on the Lotion Crafter site. It says:

"EmulThix™ is a useful solution for formulating with elastomers, gum blends and other difficult-to-emulsify silicones. It is also compatible with formulations containing a wide range of mineral and organic oils, esters, sunscreens and vitamins. EmulThix™ can emulsify and stabilize oil phases up to 50%. It can be used in formulations with high solvent content (e.g., up to 30% ethanol, isopropyl alcohol or acetone) or up to 50% glycerin or propylene glycol."


Has anyone used EmulThix for this type of application? I'd love to hear any and all opinions!

http://www.lotioncrafter.com/emulthix-trade.html
 

Aline

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Polysorbate 20 is most often used to dissolve essential oils into water but PS 80 should work too.

Emulthix does not sound like the correct choice - with essential oils you are dissolving rather than emulsifying like you would with a fixed oil.

Have you tried the PS 80?

I would ask Jen at Lotioncrafter though - she is really helpful.
 

KristaY

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Thanks Aline! I'll send Jen an email. My confusion is the EO into alcohol. I don't know the make-up of the witch hazel portion but the label says 86% witch hazel and 14% alcohol.
 

doriettefarm

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I've never tried to emulsify a liquid containing alcohol so no advice there. I do know you can find witch hazel that doesn't contain alcohol. Check out the Thayer's brand unless you're trying to use up supplies already purchased.
 

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Essential oils dissolve naturally into alcohol so you may find that they dissolve into the witch hazel without adding anything because it has some alcohol in it.
 
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KristaY

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I've never tried to emulsify a liquid containing alcohol so no advice there. I do know you can find witch hazel that doesn't contain alcohol. Check out the Thayer's brand unless you're trying to use up supplies already purchased.
Thanks doriette! I've never looked at other brand's ingredient list so I'll check that out when I've used up my current bottle.

Essential oils dissolve naturally into alcohol so you may find that they dissolve into the witch hazel without adding anything because it has some alcohol in it.
Maybe the alcohol percentage isn't high enough to dissolve the lavender EO? I made my current bottle about 2 months ago and the EO is still sitting on top of the witch hazel. This is a facial toner I make for myself so I can give the PS80 a shot. I'm just tired of having to invert the bottle several times before I spritz my face. Then sometimes I'm in a hurry and forget....
 

shunt2011

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I make a toner with witch hazel and use PS80 and it seems to work for me. I haven't had an issue. I use Tea Tree and Lavender
 

DeeAnna

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EOs are not completely soluble in an alcohol-water blend (like 80 proof vodka for example) where there is a fair amount of water. They may (and it depends on the EO) be soluble in a nearly pure alcohol like the highest proof Everclear, but I wouldn't want to make a room air spray, toner, or linen spray with that much alcohol. Too much danger of fire, at the very least. So that's where the polysorbates come in.

I tried PS20 to solubilize EOs -- didn't work very well for me. Maybe I'm missing something, but I do know PS80 does work.

You will have to experiment to find the best ratio of PS80 to EO. What I'm finding is somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 ratio of PS80 to EO is needed for this type of product.

Give each test mixture a day or two to sit before deciding whether the test blend is working or not. In this situation, the polysorbate is acting as a ~solubilizer~ not an emulsifier. The final mixture should be clear, not milky. It can take a day or so for the polysorbate to fully solubilize the EOs into the alcohol-water solution.
 

Navaria

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EOs are not completely soluble in an alcohol-water blend (like 80 proof vodka for example) where there is a fair amount of water. They may (and it depends on the EO) be soluble in a nearly pure alcohol like the highest proof Everclear, but I wouldn't want to make a room air spray, toner, or linen spray with that much alcohol. Too much danger of fire, at the very least. So that's where the polysorbates come in.

I tried PS20 to solubilize EOs -- didn't work very well for me. Maybe I'm missing something, but I do know PS80 does work.

You will have to experiment to find the best ratio of PS80 to EO. What I'm finding is somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 ratio of PS80 to EO is needed for this type of product.

Give each test mixture a day or two to sit before deciding whether the test blend is working or not. In this situation, the polysorbate is acting as a ~solubilizer~ not an emulsifier. The final mixture should be clear, not milky. It can take a day or so for the polysorbate to fully solubilize the EOs into the alcohol-water solution.

I find this fascinating. I tried to emulsify EO's into straight water with PS80 to make a spray and couldn't get them to mix for anything. I tried PS20, and they mixed beautifully. So I basically had the opposite results as you did. I wonder if it has to do with the type of EO's used.
 

DeeAnna

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I suspect it is more that you apparently have been using straight water, and I have been using a water-alcohol mixture.
 

KristaY

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I make a toner with witch hazel and use PS80 and it seems to work for me. I haven't had an issue. I use Tea Tree and Lavender
Thank you shunt! I always use lavender and sometimes add tea tree. It just depends on my mood when I make it. Sometimes I add 6 drops and other times I add 10 drops. Yes, I'm very scientific and exact in this recipe, lol.:shifty:

EOs are not completely soluble in an alcohol-water blend (like 80 proof vodka for example) where there is a fair amount of water. They may (and it depends on the EO) be soluble in a nearly pure alcohol like the highest proof Everclear, but I wouldn't want to make a room air spray, toner, or linen spray with that much alcohol. Too much danger of fire, at the very least. So that's where the polysorbates come in.

I tried PS20 to solubilize EOs -- didn't work very well for me. Maybe I'm missing something, but I do know PS80 does work.

You will have to experiment to find the best ratio of PS80 to EO. What I'm finding is somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 ratio of PS80 to EO is needed for this type of product.

Give each test mixture a day or two to sit before deciding whether the test blend is working or not. In this situation, the polysorbate is acting as a ~solubilizer~ not an emulsifier. The final mixture should be clear, not milky. It can take a day or so for the polysorbate to fully solubilize the EOs into the alcohol-water solution.
Thank you so much DeeAnna! I especially appreciate the heads up on the usage ratio. Now I know I need to start higher so it'll save me a lot of time experimenting. You guys rock! :p
 

Navaria

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Yes, mine was straight water. Some day (maybe) I will understand the science as to why certain products work with some things and not with other lol
 

DeeAnna

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PS 20 is a nonionic surfactant based on lauric acid (one of the fatty acids in coconut oil) and PS 80 is a nonionic surfactant based on oleic acid (one of the FAs in olive oil). That means PS20 is "lighter" than PS80. That probably has some effect on relative ability of PS20 to dissolve EOs in plain water vs in an alcohol-water solution. But I haven't studied how the two polysorbates work chemically, nor have I personally compared PS20 vs PS80 in just plain water to have an opinion, so I'll end my speculations here. :)
 

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