Manufacture of Lotions

Manufacture of Lotions

The manufacture of lotion emulsions can be rather complex. The oils and waxes commonly found in hand and body lotions are hydrophobic and don’t stay in suspension for very long. Emulsifying agents and other additives are used to help form stable emulsion, but these can be costly and manufacturers want to use them sparingly.

In a typical factory setup, an oil phase and a water phase are produced separately in separate vessels. Both phases are made at similar high temperatures. Once both premixes are prepared they are slowly merged into a single vessel and agitated over time until the emulsion is formed. Even though the water phase requires no heating in and of itself, it is heated so that no quenching or solidification of the oil phase occurs when the phases are merged.  Then the product is cooled over a lengthy period of time, often as much as 2-3 hours.

This is an inefficient process because:

  • It requires 2 premixing vessels
  • It requires that both tanks have heating capabilities
  • Both phases need to be at elevated temperature
  • The emulsion takes time to form
  • Cooling times are very lengthy

Multiple-Feed Lotion Emulsion

Many years of innovative process development have led to what we call  multiple-feed homogenization where our inline Sonolator device is connected to two or more PD pumps to accurately meter different phase at different temperatures under high pressure to make an instant emulsions. It’s actually a bit extraordinary to see even a basic Dual-feed Homogenizing process where a hot oil phase is metered alongside a cooler water phase at high pressure to form a room temperature emulsions instantaneously. A process that typically requires the manufacturer to heat all the materials, water and oil phase both, to elevated temperatures and merge them to a process tank for hours of cooling and agitating is now reduced to a fraction of the time. See this quick video:

Benefits of the Multi-Feed Process

The benefits continue to stack up with this example of processing lotions. Now that we can effectively emulsify metered oil and water phase we can reduce the heating time and cost because we need only heat the oil phase, which might only be between 5-20% of total product. So instead of heating a large mixing vessel, we heat one that is all but 5-20% of that original total size. When this small percentage oil phase is metered at higher temperature with the cooler water phase, the resulting product is much closer 30-35 degrees C, requiring little to no cooling! Take an extra step and remove a large amount of plain DI water using a third pump and get more finished product from smaller tanks.

  • Extreme reduction in cooling time
  • Reduction in heating time and cost
  • Instant emulsion formation
  • Reduction in process time from 4-8 hours down to 1-2 hours
  • Reduction in tank space requirements

Lotions Emulsification Systems

Sonic designs multiple-feed Homogenizing systems for the instant emulsification of hand & body lotions. All the necessary components are chosen and designed into a comprehensive system that will take two or more phases and meter at proper ratio to create instant emulsions. The Sonolator process is highly repeatable and very scalable:

  • Complete Skidded System
  • Customized Design
  • 3D Approval Drawings
  • Sanitary & Hygienic Design
  • Fully Automated with PLC and VFD Control Cabinets on skid
  • On Demand Processing
  • Data Logging, Alarming, Ratio Flow Alarm Protection

Process skid