How can I make a pump-top surfactant formula work in a foamer top bottle (or vice versa)?

The main difference between formulations that are designed to go in a pump-top bottle vs. a foamer-top bottle is the viscosity of the end product, so in order to make a formulation work in a different type of packaging, you will need to adjust the viscosity.

Formulations designed to be packaged in a foamer top bottle need to be very thin—usually somewhere around the consistency of water. If the formulation has even a hint of viscosity you’ll have issues dispensing it from a foamer top bottle. You’ll get lots of sputtering and will dispense fairly small amounts of uneven foam rather than the plentiful clouds of bubbles you wanted.

Formulations designed to be packaged in a more standard pump-top container (like the sort we’d put lotion in) need to be thicker—you’re probably pretty familiar with the consistency of more sorts of not-water-thin hand washes/body washes/shampoo and that’s roughly what you need. One of the many things you’ve probably encountered in 2020 is an un-gelled, water-thin hand sanitizer packaged in a container with a lotion pump, and it’s not a great experience. You get a great big splash of super-thin product that goes everywhere.

Want to make a pump-top formulation foamer-top friendly?

Remove the thickener. Depending on the formulation this could be a gum (or another gelling agent), salt, or Crothix™ liquid.

Some formulations may be too viscous on their own to work in a foamer-top bottle—if you’re making the formulation and it’s already thicker than water before you add a thickener, you won’t be able to put that formulation in a foamer-top bottle (this formulation would be an example of that—the Sodium Laureth Sulfate [SLeS] is so viscous that the product is too thick for a foamer bottle without any added thickeners).

Want to make a foamer-top formulation pump-top friendly?

Thicken it up! The easiest way to do this is with Crothix™ liquid. Gently stir it in at the very end; you’ll probably need ~3–4% to get the desired end consistency. Go slow, adding ~1% at a time and waiting between additions so you don’t accidentally create a solid blob 😂

For other ideas on ways to thicken surfactant products, check out some of my formulations for pump-top/squeeze-bottle friendly hand washes/ body washes/ shampoos. There are quite a few options!

Posted in: Troubleshooting & Adjusting