Monday, November 11, 2013

Thickening Liquid Soap - HEC vs. HPMC

I normally thicken my liquid soaps with HEC (Hydroxyethel Cellulose) at a rate of 1% - 1.5%.  HEC can be easy to use and leaves your soap crystal clear (assuming your formulation produces a clear soap).   I have recently been introduced to HPMC (Hydroxypropyl Methycellulose) as a thickening agent as it is supposed to be easier to use than HEC. There are a few differences in how you use each one.

HEC (can be added before or after dilution)
  - Mix with your solvent at room temperature with a whisk
  - Add mixture to your liquid soap at room temperature
  - Mix with solvent at room temperature with a whisk
  - Add mixture to room temperature dilution water and whisk for 5 - 20 minutes to thoroughly disperse
  - Add dilution water/HEC mixture to room temperature soap paste

  - Use a whisk to blend in HEC mixture.  Heat up soap.  If mixture is added after dilution - stick blend when hot to fully distribute to avoid fish eyes, otherwise, allow soap paste to dilute as normal.
  - Thickening is achieved as HEC solution is exposed to a higher Ph (as typical in liquid soap) and heat

HPMC (added after dilution)
  - Mix with a portion  (1/3)of your hot soap (167 - 194 degrees F) mixing thoroughly with a whisk
  - Add the remaining cold or room temperature soap to the heated diluted liquid soap
  - Sprinkle directly on top of hot diluted liquid soap
  - Whisk hot soap well
  - Allow soap to cool down.  Whisk every so often while the soap cools down
  - Thickening is achieved as the soap cools down.

Some say HPMC is easier as you can add it directly after your soap is diluted and still hot. Some say HEC is easier as you can add it to your dilution water and thicken while diluting.
HPMC is added to hot soap to distribute
HEC is added to room temperature water or glycerin and room temperature soap (or room temp dilution water).
Thickening with HPMC occurs as soap cools down
Thickening with HEC occurs as soap heats up.

Looks like they couldn't be more opposite in method........

Both offer good thickening at reasonable percentages.  HPMC is supposed to increase lather in your soap and work with high sodium and high ph products.  HEC is supposed to insure a clear end product. Both work with water soluble solutions.  From my experience, HPMC is very, very good at thickening dual lye (both Potassium Hydroxide and Sodium Hydroxide) soaps using as little as .5% to achieve a medium viscosity - much better than when thickening single lye soaps.

Both products can be found at The Herbarie and Lotioncrafters.

~ Faith

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