How to Disperse SLES

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By |June 28th, 2017|Homogenizer|

SLES 70 is a surfactant system used widely in the personal care industry to make shampoos, conditioners, body washes, detergents, soaps and more.  SLES 70 almost always needs to be dispersed and diluted into water prior to use.  What is the best method to disperse this sles 70 into water?  Like anything else there are many ways to skin a cat.  SLES dispersions can be tricky.  Here’s why.

The Problem

When SLES 70 is mixed with water “fish eye” globules form that effect appearance and functionality of the surfactant.  In many cases, factories will actually purchase a pre-dispersed sles and water solution from third party contractors.  This mixture is then stored on site with a limited shelf life due to the excessive amount of water in the solution; more water leads to more bacterial growth.  This approach is also costly thanks to third party contract pricing.  Additional dilution at the factory level would be required to accommodate varying formulation uses as well.

Some end users do choose to dilute and disperse in house using a large mixing vessel and recirculation pump. In this method, sles is added to a large mixing vessel and water is added as the mixture is recirculated around the tank.  In some cases, a rotor-stator mixer is used in the recirculation loop to improve mixing time.  This method uses mechanical shear mixing that is known to be inconsistent and time consuming.  Both materials have to be transferred to the mixing tank over x period of time, the in-tank agitator pumps and churns the material in a somewhat haphazard manner and the recirculation pump or mixer imparts some additional shear that only marginally improves on the overall process time.

Solution

We conducted a series of tests using our Dual-Feed Sonolator Homogenizer to disperse and dilute SLES 70 down below 25%.  The Sonolator is an in-line high-pressure homogenizer that uses fluid acceleration and cavitation to break down droplet sizes and create uniform emulsions and dispersions.

If you are using large amounts of SLES 70 in your factory you should be looking to purchase and store the raw SLES 70 and diluting and dispersing it on your own.  Our homogenizer can be incorporated into a system with multiple pumps that takes the raw SLES 70 from bulk and meters it alongside the DI Water supply to dilute and disperse in line.

multiple-feed sonolator graphic

Here’s How You Benefit

  • You won’t need to store premixed SLES/Water solutions that go bad more readily
  • Your SLES-70 will go a lot further for given storage space because it isn’t dilute in storage
  • Variety of dilution ratios are allowed
  • Cost savings by not contracting this Dilution/Dispersion to third party processor
  • No Mixing Vessel required to make this Dispersion

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About the Author:

Rob Brakeman
Owner & Director