What is emulsifying wax?

All emulsifying waxes act as a kind of magnet, binding oil and water molecules together.

Emulsifying wax is a kind of emulsifying cosmetic ingredient mainly used in making creams, lotions and other beauty products. Emulsification occurs when two substances – in this case, oil and water – successfully join together, creating a kind of glue that combines the ingredients of a product. Wax is sometimes labeled as NF Emulsifying Wax, which means it meets the standards of a National Form, which is a medical manual containing drugs approved in a certain country – the US, Great Britain, and Australia are some countries that have national forms.

Some cosmetic products are made with emulsifying wax.

This type of wax is used by both cosmetics manufacturers and individuals who make their own beauty products. When included in a recipe, it thickens the liquid and marries the oil- and water-based elements of the creation. The wax itself is made from petroleum or vegetable wax that has been enhanced with a chemical detergent. It is solid white in color and has a slight alcohol scent. The commonly prescribed amount of NF emulsifying wax is three to six percent of the total recipe weight.

All emulsifying waxes operate on a molecular plane. They act as a kind of magnet, bringing oil and water molecules closer together. These two types of molecules have very different structures. Oil, for example, is a non-polar – or water-resistant – ingredient. When it encounters the wax, the oil’s innate resistance to water is broken, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the water in the recipe.

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NF Emulsifying Wax is made up of four ingredients. These are Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-150 Stearate, Polysorbate 60 and Steareth-20. It reflects the properties of cetyl alcohol while promoting the thickening characteristics of stearyl alcohol.

Cosmetic mixtures are not the only products that can benefit from this substance. It can also be used in candle making, helping to solidify wax, glycerin and water-based ingredients. The wax ensures that the final product holds together and burns evenly.

Some emulsifying waxes are produced from petroleum-based compounds. Many major cosmetics manufacturers use this form of emulsifying wax. Petroleum-derived wax is often cheaper and more readily available than its plant-based counterpart.

Vegetable-based emulsifying wax, however, is becoming more and more popular. Soybean and carnauba are two types of waxes harvested from plant sources. They offer the same benefits for emulsification and, when used in candles, often burn more cleanly and evenly than petroleum wax. They consist of natural fats and esters found in plants. It is processed into flakes which are then marketed and sold. These flakes can easily be purchased in bulk to make products at home.

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