Hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC)

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Hydroxyethylcellulose

Hydroxyethylcellulose  is a a non-ionic, water-soluble polymer  thickening agent and suspending agent that is  highly efficient, easily dispersed Also known as HEC  is not only for thickening but also used for adjustments in consistency, and stabilization. Formulating with this product is very easy since the particles have been inhibited. When the particles are added to water, they  should easily disperse without lumping,

This brand is the Natrosol HHR, a very efficient product.

Typical recommended for thickening and hydration  

Disperse the Hydroxyethyl cellulose in water and by stir vigorously or using a blender. Continue to hydrate the HEC in water until completely dissolved.  There may bea delay in thickening - this is normal. (Stir until the particles are dissolved.  This process allows the preparation of clear, smooth, viscous solutions in a short period of time by simply adding the R-grade to water and stirring until the polymer is completely dissolved to prevent settling of the particles.

Hydration time is  affected by two factors- namely the pH and temperature of the water. Higher pH and higher temperatures  DECREASE  the hydration time, but the higher pH and temperature may also result in lumping. It's recommended that the HEC be added to room temperature water, with a neutral pH. Once hydrated, it can be heated and the pH can be adjusted  (typically using TEA) as needed. (The inhibition period, from the initial wetting to the start of dissolution,  hydration time, may vary from 4-25 min) 

Thickening Liquid Soap using HEC

One useful application for Hydroxyethylcellulose is to use it as a liquid soap for thickener. Whether you are making a vegetabele oil and lye soap, a Castille type soap, or your liquid soap is comprised of a surfactant blend, and you want to thicken it. Or you might be combining those methods and blending your vegetable based soap, and  adding a natural surfactant like decyl glucoside for example, for more foam, and you want to thicken your soap. Hydroxyethylcellulose will work. One easy method is to first hydrate the HEC first using a very small amount, just .05 percent by weight it usally a good place to start, and make a thickened base to add to your total soap blend. For example if you have a 20 Pound bucket of finished liquid soap, first take .05% of the 20 Pounds (often it is easier to work with metric weights here) Pre-blend a smaller amount of the HEC in water or glycerin, before adding to the total amount of the soap -

stirring it in at room temperature very slowly but very thoroughly. After this pre-mix has been thoroughly blended and is thick add this in to the soap slowly and blend again. Add it a mix it in consistently till you get the results you desire. Keep in mind it may take the HEC an hour before it completely thickens so do not add too much!

Used to thicken shampoos, gels, body washes, and add body and after feel to bubble baths, body care products, lotions and creams.

Typical recommended usage levels .05% to 3%.   

Nonionic

Appearance: A White to Off-white granular powder 

Solubility: Soluble in water 
Viscosity Range: 3400-5000 cps (1% in water @ 25°C) 
pH: 6.7 (1% in water) 
Product trade name: Natrosol HHR CS
CAS 9004-62-0