Polysorbate with stability and relative nontoxicity allows it to be used as a detergent and emulsifier in a number of domestic, scientific, and pharmacological applications. Yellow liquid no or weak odor. Soluble in water, non-ionic emulsifier (enables water & oil to mix; effect increased when combined with cetyl alcohol or sorbitan stearate), dispersing agent, antistat thickener, solubilizer & stabilizer of essential oils. Can be added to formulas as is, usual concentration 2 - 10%.
IUPAC name: Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate
Other names: Polysorbate 20; PEG(20); Sorbitan Monolaurate: Tween 20.
Polysorbate 20 is a fatty acid ester derived from Sorbitan Monolaurate. The number following the polysorbate is related to the type of fatty acid associated with the polyoxyethylene sorbitan part of the molecule. Monolaurate molecule has 20 repeat units of polyethylene glycol is indicated by 20.
Monolaurate is derived form Lauric acid, and is a saturated fatty acid. It is the main acid in coconut oil and in palm kernel oil. It is also found in human milk (5.8% of total fat), cows milk (2.2%), and goat milk (4.5%).
1. Food applications
Polysorbate 20 is used as a wetting agent in products intended for dissolution in the mouth such as candies, lozenges, mouth drops, etc. It helps to provide a spreading feeling to other ingredients when put in the mouth.
2. Cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications
Polysorbate 20 is a non-ionic surfactant that acts as a gentle, non-irritating emulsifier. It is used to emulsify oils in water in the production of many personal care, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Polysorbate 20 is also known for its stabilising and solubilising abilities which preserve the integrity of the products over long shelf life. It other virtues are good spreadability. It is commonly used in shampoos, creams and lotions due to its mildness and easy spreadability mildness and soothing effects on the skin which can be applied to all skin types and conditions.
Usage rate: 1 - 20%
3. Biotechnical applications
In biological techniques and sciences, polysorbate 20 has a broad range of applications which are out of the scope of this article.
4. Industrial and domestic applications
Polysorbate 20 is used by philatelists to remove stamps from envelopes and to remove residues from stamps, without harming the stamp itself. It is also used as wetting agent in rubber balers in the elastomer industry and has been used as a shape directing agent to synthesize spheroidal magnetite nano-assemblies
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