Q: I am making an oily gel with Sucragel® and Sucrablend which I have to heat for the Sucrablend to dissolve. Do I also need to heat the oil phase?
A: Unless you have any solid ingredients in the oil phase, this phase can remain cold even if the Sucragel® phase is heated.
Q: Can Sucragel be used to make wet wipes?
A: Yes. To make a lotion to be sprayed onto a wipe, simply dilute the Sucragel with water, add a small amount of a stabiliser and preserve. Alternatively, if you want additional oils in your solution, stir these into the Sucragel and then dilute with water. It has the added benefit of allowing the lotion to be shipped as a ‘concentrate’ to be used when it’s needed.
Q: My manufacturing team and I have concerns about scale up as the process in the laboratory is very labour intensive. Do you have any advice for scale up?
A: Yes. We have a scale up guide to assist your manufacturing team. Scaling up is actually simpler and less labour intensive than the lab trials as more oil can be added at once as the stirring speed and size are much faster and bigger than a propeller stirrer in the lab.
Q: Can Sucragel® be used to disperse fragrances?
A: Sucragel® can be used to disperse up to 5% essential oils or fragrance. Slowly stir the fragrance into the Sucragel® using a propeller stirrer. The mixture should thicken into a gel/paste which will easily disperse into your aqueous base. For a clearer product, Sucragel® AP V2 can be used at about 2.5% for every 0.1% fragrance to produce a clear or almost clear solution with water (different fragrances give different clarities). This works best with systems that do not contain terpenes.
Q: I’ve made a cream with Sucragel® and it very quickly split. What went wrong?
A: It is likely that the pH dropped below 4.5 or in extreme cases above pH 8. Gels, creams and lotions made with Sucragel® should be kept above pH 4.5 and below pH 8. Dropping below or above that boundary for even a short time, for example when buffering, will cause the emulsion to split.
Also, note that Sucragel® only emulsifies the system, it will not add viscosity or stability to the water phase. Therefore it is important to add a rheology modifier to ensure the water phase is stabilised.
Q: I have been using Sucragel® CF to make an oily gel but it is too expensive, can I switch to Sucragel® AP V2?
A: Yes, you can switch to Sucragel® AP V2, but you will need to take into account the following points:
- You can use 2/3rds the amount of AP V2 than CF, (15% instead of 20% to gel oils)
- Because there isn’t any oil in the AP V2, you need to add the oil slightly slower at the beginning
- You will still need to use Sucrablend to ensure high temperature stability.
Q: I’ve made an oily gel but it is not transparent. What has happened and what can I do?
A: Clarity is achieved when the refractive indexes of each of the raw materials add up. If your gel is not transparent is likely that some water has been lost during manufacture. Add small amounts of water (drop by drop) until clarity is restored.
BUT ... it is essential not to add too much water as the water/glycerine balance is vital in creating a system that does not need preserving. Also there is the chance that the product will turn into an emulsion.
Q: I notice many formulations contain Sucrablend. Is this important?
A: Sucrablend has been shown to enhance the stability of the formulations especially at high temperatures. It is not in the formulation to help gel the oils, it is just there to ensure high temperature stability and it needs to be used between 0.5-1% to provide the stability required.
Q: How do I reduce the viscosity of the oily gel?
A: Sucragel® is unusual as the less there is in the formulation, the thicker the product.
- So by increasing the amount of Sucragel® or decreasing the amount of oil, you will reduce the viscosity of the gel.
- A second option is to replace some of the oil phase with glycerine, but this is a balancing act as more glycerine may affect the feel of the finished product. Alternatively, by adding water the viscosity will instantly drop but the gel will go cloudy.
Q: Can the product be rescued if too much oil is added?
A: Yes. Wait until the gel and the oil have separated. Remove the oil from the top and then begin stirring again and slowly re-introduce the oil.
Q: The oil isn’t mixing into the gel and as I add more the mixture thins and splits? What should I do?
A: This is almost always a symptom of the way the process is being managed, and can be solved by:
- Ensuring that a propeller stirrer is used, or one which stirs in a circular motion
- Ensuring the stirrer is immersed in the Sucragel and is on at a fast speed
- Initially, adding the oil very slowly in portions
- As the viscosity increases, increasing the stirrer speed and height. Remember, the gel cannot be over stirred
Q: Why do I need Sucragel®? Why can’t I make the D-Phase system myself?
A: In short, you can make it yourself but experience has shown that even the very biggest companies do not like making these systems for a number of good reasons:
- The sucrose laurate requires high temperatures for up to 6 hours to dissolve
- A lot of foam and air bubbles are generated (best manufactured under vacuum)
- Stirring can be a problem (design of vessel)
- Mixing requires care over a long time (operator judgement). Post manufacture adjustment is sometimes necessary
Q: Is it possible to use 10% or more solids with HIPEgel® Oleo?
A: Powders such as starch, ZnO and TIO2 are good for stabilising HIPEgel® formulations. Using HIPEgel® Oleo with clays, plant powders etc. should yield good results. Remember to avoid using anything acidic as with Sucragel®.
Q: How to scale-up formulations with HIPEgel® Oleo ?
A: For HIPEgel® Oleo, you can use exactly the same method as Sucragel® for scale up. Be aware of the much smaller initial phase, however, and make sure it is adequately agitated in the mixer. The oil phase needs to be added slowly, at the same rate as with Sucragel®.
Q: Can surfactants be added to a HIPEgel® Oleo system?
A: As with Sucragel®, we don't recommend using extra surfactants with this system. These are really designed to be gentle, mild, low-surfactant systems and adding extra, possibly harsh surfactants, goes against this philosophy! HIPEgel® Oleo is a very low surfactant system that is not really for hard cleansing.
Q: Could more than 1.5% water be added to HIPEgel Oleo?
A: As a rule, the internal phase must be above 74% to make it a HIPE. In reality it's best if it is greater than 80%. Water (including water based actives) and glycerine can be added at a level so that the total amount of HIPEgel® Oleo + water + glycerine < 25%. This does allow for quite a lot of water, however, and stability may be compromised if the amount of external phase is too high as the structure is lost and the viscosity will drop.
If HIPEgel® Oleo is used at 6% and glycerine at 5%, then this allows an extra 13% water. Despite this, we would not recommend going above 5%.
Q: What is the pH range for HIPEgel® products?
A: A pH between 4 and 9 should allow for stable formulations. High pH will lead to hydrolysis of the ester bond while low pH will lead to hydrolysis of the glycosidic bond.
Q: Can other glycols be used instead of glycerine with HIPEgel®?
A: We only tried pentylene glycol (natural origin), and the creams formed were not stable.
Q: Is Sapogel Q compatible with acids?
A: Yes. Acids can be incorporated into the balms.
Q: Can Sapogel Q be used in Haircare?
A: According to scientific literature, Quillaja saponins have good anti-inflammatory properties and as a milder surfactant are gentle with the scalp and hair. They also have anti-fungal and hair growth stimulating properties, and can be used in shampoos and hair-loss treatments.
Q: Is Sapogel Q compatible with surfactants?
A: Sapogel Q is not compatible with most surfactants.
Q: What powders can be used with the Sapogel Q?
A: Plant powders and starches are fully compatible with Sapogel Q.
Q: Which oils are best for creating an opaque or transparent system?
A: The best transparency is achieved with non-polar oils like Squalane, CCT, IPM and Mineral Oil. Opaque/translucent gels are obtained with waxes and polar oils.
Q: How much wax is it possible to use with Sapogel Q?
A: Sapogel Q can be used with up to 60% of low melting point waxes likes butters and up to 5% of high melting point waxes.
Q: Are gels made with Sapogel Q susceptible to vacuum?
A: We would recommend applying any vacuum gradually and not reducing the pressure to below 400mB.
Q: Is Sapogel Q suitable for food application?
A: All the constituents of the blends can be ingested. Please contact us for more information.
Q: Is Sapogel Q compatible with enzymes?
A: Yes. Sapogel Q is not susceptible to degradation by enzymes.
Q: Do Sapogel Q gels need to be preserved?
A: Gels/Balms made with Sapogel Q normally have a low water content. Indeed, the maximum water phase we recommend in a balm is 4%. Additionally, Sapogel Q contains a high level of glycerine which protects it from contamination with micro-organisms by lowering the water activity. As such they normally don't need preservation, but potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate are a compatible combination if a preservative is a requirement.
Q: Which oils are compatible with Sapogel Q?
A: Sapogel Q is ideal for gelling polar oils. High levels of non-polar oils in a gel made with Sapogel Q can result in poor pick up and instability.
Can I homogenise the oil in?
Yes, but this might be difficult for thicker formulations with no water. Instead, we recommend adding the oil using an overhead stirrer, then homogenising for a few minutes after all the oil is added. The homogenisation step is only needed for systems with high amounts of water (>2%), an overhead stirrer is sufficient for low/no water systems.
Can I use any type of oil in my formulation?
There are a few types of oil that are not compatible with Micromulse® LB – please see our formulating guide for more information.
Can I make a solid gel product with Micromulse® LB?
It may be possible, but it was designed with liquid products in mind.
Can I class my Micellar oil as a microemulsion?
No, we do not consider these systems to be microemulsions. This is because true stable microemulsions are a balance of surfactant, water and oil with a relatively high % of surfactant. The amount of surfactant in Micromulse® LB is lower than you would expect in a thermodynamically stable microemulsion.
My product looks very cloudy, how can I fix it?
Firstly, ensure the cloudiness is not due to trapped air, by centrifuging or by smearing on a glass surface to check. Then see if the amount of water in the formula is correct by comparing framework formulations. If too much water has been added this is difficult to correct but if it is lower than recommended, then add small measured portions to the formulation until the product appears transparent.
How do I lower the viscosity of the Micellar Oil I have made and still maintain clarity?
The choice of oil determines the amount of water that needs to be added to the formulation and in general, the more water in the product the lower the viscosity. If vegetable oils are being used and the viscosity is too high, replace a portion of the vegetable oil with an emollient of lower refractive index such as CCT or an ester.
Do you have to use Glycerine in the formula?
Yes, it is important to use Glycerine in Micromulse® LB formulations because it helps with stability and transparency. If glycerine is left out or replaced with either water or glycols, there is a risk instability will occur and the product will be cloudy.
Why would you use Micromulse® LB instead of Sucragel, HIPEgel Oleo or Sapogel Q?
Sucragel, HIPEgel Oleo and Sapogel Q are effective oil gelling agents and generally form structured liquid systems (gels) with shear thinning properties. Micromulse® LB has been specially formulated to form liquid systems which are stable and transparent.