Detergent Making Technology

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Source: Extracted from Lecture Notes
Written By: Herman K.
Department of Chemistry,
Cosmetics and Detergents Kenya Institute
Nyota Building, Suit 105, First floor

A detergent can be defined as a water-soluble cleansing agent which combines with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble, hence aiding in removal during the process of cleaning
Actually, Detergents differ from soap in not forming a scum with the salts in hard water. Detergents have the advantage of cleaning extreme dirt and oily surface. This cleaning ability by the surfactant is by the action of Surfactants.
Surfactants, also known as the active matter, work by weakening the physiochemical adherence of forces that bind impurities (dirt), preventing them from binding on the surface.
But it is more about designing, formulating and putting to work the detergent that makes one to claim of being a professional manufacturer of Detergents.
Today, we shall look at one of the common challenges that “incompetent” manufacturers of Detergents face: Product Viscosity – also known as rheology.
As many manufacturers can attest, the thickness of the detergent is what boosts its sales. A thick Detergent is perceived as “powerful“, “good“, “original“, “potent“, “heavyetc.
When designing a thickening system, it is advisable to use multifunctional ingredients that can provide additional benefits to the formulation, and use combinations of ingredients that work by different mechanisms to improve efficiency. Thickening agents fall in the category of ionic thickeners, Polymeric (cellulosic) ethers and polar emollients/low HLB Surfactants.

Potential benefits of different classes of thickeners include:

  • Cold processing with minimal mixing.
  • Good low and high temperature viscosity and stability.
  • Good fragrance solubilization.
  • Synergy with salt.
  • Good formulation clarity.
  • Increased foam/lather.
  • Improved mildness

But it takes a a simple thickening agent like sodium chloride to achieve a satisfactory Viscosity for your product.
Sodium Chloride as a Perfect Thickening agent for Detergents
Also known as common salt, sodium chloride is not only cheap and readily available, it is also scientifically proven to improve detergent rheology. To appreciate its role in thickening, it is good to have a deeper understanding of how it works: Salt thickens by reducing micelle charge density, helping to promote the conversion of spherical micelles to rod-shaped micelles. It is, however, noteworthy to know that Viscosity of salt-thickened formulations decreases with increasing temperature and will not stabilize suspended particles. Using too much salt (>3%) can also impact the clarity and cloud point of the formulation. By recalling what we do daily in class work, it is correct to conclude that divalent salts like magnesium sulfate are more efficient if compatible in the formulation.

For questions, clarifications, consultation, please reach the writer on telephone number 0723424240.

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