USDA Certified Organic Emulsifying Wax – Ingredient Highlight

Written by: | December 15, 2016 | 13 responses

If you read the label on the back of most lotion or creme bottles, you’ll likely find emulsifying wax listed among the ingredients.  What exactly is it, what does it do, and why is it so widely used in cosmetic formulations?

Emulsifying wax binds together oil and water, and does it so effectively that it is the most widely used ingredient in cosmetics, today. Making smooth and stable emulsions can be a tricky endeavor and the ease of using emulsifying wax to achieve consistent results makes this ingredient a favorite of crafters worldwide.

USDA-certified organic emulsifying wax serves the same purpose as traditional emulsifying wax, however, it doesn’t behave in formulations in exactly the same way as the traditional, conventional emulsifying wax.

What is an “emulsifier”?

Every lotion and creme is an emulsion. An emulsion is a fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble or miscible. Put simply, an emulsion is fine droplets of oils and butters dispersed in water. Water and oil separate unless there is something to bind them. The purpose of an emulsifier is to bind the oils and butters to the water and keep them dispersed or emulsified in the water.

Organic vs conventional

Organic emulsifying wax (beeswax, lecithin, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax) produces silky and stable emulsions in concentrations between 4% – 10%. It can be used as both the primary and secondary emulsifier (when neutralized with a small amount of sodium or potassium hydroxide in the water phase while making the emulsion). Organic emulsifying wax makes the formulating of organic certified creams and lotions much easier.

Can I substitute organic emulsifying wax for conventional?

Yes, however, you need to know it’s not as easy as a straight substitution. Unfortunately, you cannot simply replace 4% of conventional emulsifying wax for 4% of organic emulsifying wax in your formulation. If you choose to use organic emulsifying wax, you will need to adjust your formula. There is no easy formula for substituting one wax for the other as other ingredients in your formulation can affect the effectiveness of the wax.

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