Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS)

What is it? Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) is a solid anionic surfactant of coconut origin. It is not the same thing as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and is generally accepted as a gentler alternative.
INCI Sodium Coco Sulfate
Appearance You can purchase SCS as a powder or little sticks that look like sprinkles.
Usage rate 1–15%
Texture See “appearance”.
Scent Characteristically soapy/detergent-y.
Active Surfactant Matter 95%
pH 7.5–10.5 (1% solution)
Charge Anionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in recipes? It offers fantastic, fluffy, super-abundant lather and is a strong cleanser.
Do you need it? It’s very fun (and especially great if you’re making household cleaners), but not essential.
Strengths Ample, rich lather and strong cleansing/de-greasing.
Weaknesses It is a stronger surfactant and could irritate very sensitive skin. It also has a higher pH and products made with it typically need to be adjusted.
Alternatives & Substitutions As a bare minimum you’ll need a different solid anionic surfactant. You’ll also need to watch the active surfactant matter (you will likely need to use a different quantity of the new surfactant to get the same ASM level in the end product as SCS is much more concentrated than most other surfactants). Keep in mind that unless you use Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) as your alternative surfactant the end product is likely to be lower-lathering and not be as potent of a cleanser.
How to Work with It Wear a dust mask! Inhaling airborne powdered surfactants is unbelievably unpleasant.

You can dissolve it into the heated water phase for liquid concoctions, or stir/mash the powder into blends of butters and/or other surfactants to create syndet bars. It can also be added to the powder phase of bath bombs and other bath products.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, SCS should last for two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Sodium Coco Sulfate (SCS) is made from whole coconut oil, while Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is made from lauric acid, an isolated fatty acid that is present in coconut oil. That means SCS will contain some SLS because lauric acid is a component of coconut oil.
Recommended starter amount 250g (0.5lb)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table!

 

Some Recipes that Use Sodium Coco Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa)

What is it? Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa) is a solid anionic surfactant of vegetable origin. It meets ECOCERT standards. It is not the same thing as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)—it is a much gentler surfactant.
INCI Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
Appearance A very fine white powder.
Usage rate Non irritating to skin at up to 70%
Texture Fine powder.
Scent Characteristically soapy/detergent-y.
Active Surfactant Matter 65%
pH 5–7.5 (5% solution)
Charge Anionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in recipes? It offers fantastic, rich lather to our products. Due to the small particle size it readily dissolves in water, making it a great choice for things like bath bombs and foaming bath salts.
Do you need it? I’d highly recommend it, but it isn’t essential.
Strengths Wonderful, rich, long-lasting lather.
Weaknesses Inhaling it is beyond wretched.
Alternatives & Substitutions As a bare minimum you’ll need a different solid anionic surfactant. You’ll also need to watch the active surfactant matter (you may need to use a different quantity of the new surfactant to get the same ASM level in the end product) and the pH of the final product.
How to Work with It Wear a dust mask! Inhaling airborne powdered surfactants is unbelievably unpleasant.

You can dissolve it into the heated water phase for liquid concoctions, or stir/mash the powder into blends of butters and/or other surfactants to create syndet bars. It can also be added to the powder phase of bath bombs and other bath products.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, SLSa should last for two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks SLSa is an easy way to make almost anything foam!
Recommended starter amount 250g (0.5lb)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table!

 

Some Recipes that Use Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

What is it? Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) is a liquid amphoteric surfactant made from coconut oil. It can also be found sold under the names “Coco Betaine”, “Amphosol CG”, and “SurfPro™ CAPB”; be sure to check the INCI.
INCI Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Appearance Thin golden liquid.
Usage rate 4–40%
Scent Characteristically soapy/detergent-y.
Active Surfactant Matter 30%
pH 5–6 (10% solution)
Charge Amphoteric
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in recipes? Cocamidopropyl Betaine is a great co-surfactant that makes the overall surfactant blend milder. It helps improve flash foam and stabilize lather, and helps thicken some surfactant blends as it contains some sodium chloride. “It has a negative charge in alkaline products and a positive charge in acidic products like most personal cleansers. It is substantive when positively charged (in an acidic formulation), so it acts as a skin and hair conditioner, leaving behind a moisturized feeling after rinsing with no feeling of tightness.” –LotionCrafter

Basically, it makes all things surfactant-y better, and more gentle. It also works well on its own as a gentle, low-lather cleansing agent.

Do you need it? If you plan on doing any work with surfactants, definitely.
Strengths It is inexpensive, easy to work with, and improves all surfactant blends by boosting lather and making them milder.
Weaknesses It is often the only amphoteric surfactant available, which can be limiting but isn’t really a weakness of the ingredient itself.
Alternatives & Substitutions It’s hard to swap out because there aren’t very many amphoteric surfactants available to home crafters. The best alternative I’ve found at this point is Babassuamidopropyl Betaine. You could also use Coco Betaine if you can find it (most “Coco Betaine” I’ve found is actually Cocamidopropyl Betaine when you look at the INCI), though it’s not as gentle.
How to Work with It Include it in the heated water phase or cool down phase.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Cocamidopropyl Betaine should last at least 1.5 years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Coco Betaine are not the same thing, but Cocamidopropyl Betaine is often sold with “Coco Betaine” as the product name, with Cocamidopropyl Betaine as the INCI. Make sure you’re checking the INCI so you know what you’re getting!
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table!

 

Some Recipes that Use Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Thank you to Zack for helping with this entry!

Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside

What is it? Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside is a liquid non-ionic surfactant made from vegetable derived fatty acids and glucose. I often refer to it as C/C Glucoside since it’s shorter!
INCI Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside
Appearance A viscous, pale yellow liquid.
Usage rate up to 40%
Scent Characteristically soapy/detergent-y.
Active Surfactant Matter 60%
pH 5.5–6
Charge Non-ionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in recipes? It is gentle and contributes great lather to body washes, hand washes, face washes, and anything else liquidy that we want to add bubbles to!

It’s also a good solubilizer—much better than many other surfactants. This means we can incorporate essential and fragrance oils into products like hand washes without the need for another solubilizer, like Polysorbate 20.

Do you need it? If you’re only going to buy one liquid, non-ionic surfactant, I’d recommend this one.
Strengths Good lather + solubilizing.
Weaknesses Harder to find than coco glucoside.
Alternatives & Substitutions Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside is quite unique as it is often used as both a surfactant and a solubilizer, so you’ll need to replace both functions.

The alternative I typically suggest is coco glucoside for the cleansing/lathering with added polysorbate 20 and/or polysorbate 80 to solubilize whatever the Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside was solubilizing. You’ll also need to lower the pH of your final product if you use coco glucoside as it has a much higher pH than Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside.

How to Work with It Since it is liquid it can be used in cold-processed recipes, but it can be heated in the heated water phase if needed. Avoid vigorous stirring/agitation so you don’t work up too much lather.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside should last for two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside is the only acidic non-ionic surfactant I’ve managed to find.
Recommended starter amount 250mL (8fl oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table! Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside also appears in my solubilizers table since it does both jobs.

 

Some Recipes that Use Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI)

What is it? A solid, gentle anionic surfactant made from coconut oil.
INCI Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
Appearance You can buy SCI as a fine powder, a lumpy powder, chips, or noodles/tiny sticks.
Usage rate The CIR has tested it at up to 49.87% in rinse-off applications and 17% in leave-on applications.
Texture It depends on what you buy (see “appearance”).
Scent Characteristically soapy/detergent-y.
Active Surfactant Matter ~84% (always double check with your supplier)
pH 4.5– 6.5 (10% Solution)
Charge Anionic
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in recipes? It offers beautiful, gentle “lace glove” lather to our products. It’s also naturally acidic, so it helps our end products have a skin-friendly pH with less (or no) adjusting.
Do you need it? If you’re only going to buy one solid, anionic surfactant, I’d recommend this one.
Strengths Wonderful, gentle lather.
Weaknesses The larger shapes can be a pain to melt down.
Alternatives & Substitutions As a bare minimum you’ll need a different solid anionic surfactant. You’ll also need to watch the active surfactant matter (you may need to use a different quantity of the new surfactant to get the same ASM level in the end product) and the pH of the final product. Keep in mind that most solid anionic surfactants are not as gentle as SCI. Two options to consider would be SLSa and Bio-Terge AS90.
How to Work with It Wear a dust mask! Inhaling airborne powdered surfactants is unbelievably unpleasant.

Depending on the form you have and the format of the end product the SCI may need to be melted first. A liquid end product will require the SCI to be melted—I’d recommend combining it with the liquid amphoteric surfactant that is likely also present in the recipe and heating the two together in a water bath until you have a uniform paste. If you are working with a large amount you can speed things along with an immersion blender—the low water content means it won’t lather up, but you’ll get a smooth paste very quickly! You can also speed up melting times by running your SCI through a coffee grinder before combining it with the liquid amphoteric surfactant—just be sure you are wearing your dust mask!

If you’re making a solid product you might not need to melt the SCI, depending on the format. If you’ve got large flakes you’ll probably want to, but the little noodles look really cool in shampoo bars as-is, and the fine powder is very flexible!

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, SCI should last for two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks I like to pre-prepare a paste of SCI and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (2 parts SCI to 3 parts Cocamidopropyl Betaine) and store it in the fridge. That way I can skip the melting step when I need melted SCI!

Watch for SCI that has been blended with stearic acid (INCI will list stearic acid); that isn’t the same product.

Recommended starter amount 250g (0.5lb)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Want to compare different surfactants?

Check out my super useful surfactants table!

 

Some Recipes that Use Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate

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