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The Ultimate Guide to Sorbitan Esters

Sorbitan esters are fantastic nonionic surfactants that have numerous benefits. Span series are utilized in a wide range of industries, including food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. In this blog post, we will explore sorbitan esters, focusing on common sorbitan esters examples such as sorbitan monolaurate, sorbitan monostearate, and sorbitan monooleate.

What are Sorbitan Esters?

The esterification of sorbitol with fatty units leads to the creation of sorbitan fatty acid esters. Sorbitol is a natural sugar alcohol that can be obtained from many sources such as corn and potatoes. Sorbitan esters are often utilized as emulsifiers and stabilizers for water-in-oil (W/O) emulsions. And Span series is utilized in a wide range of industries, including food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

CHEMSINO Sorbitan esters range has a broad hydrophile-lipophile balance (HLB) of 1.6-8.6, which has made them highly soluble in both polar organic solvents and oils. In various formulations, Sorbitan esters are often used in conjunction with other surfactants, particularly polysorbates, to achieve synergistic effects and enhance emulsification.

Sorbitan esters

Common Sorbitan Esters Examples

Sorbitan Monolaurate (Span 20)

Sorbitan Monolaurate (Span 20) is a compound formed by the esterification of sorbitol with lauric acid. Sorbitan Monolaurate is a surfactant and emulsifier that belongs to the sorbitan ester class.

Here are some particulars concerning Span 20:
Chemical Formula: C18H34O6  CAS NO.: 1338-39-2  EEC NO. E493
Properties: At room temperature, dehydrated Sorbitan Monolaurate appears as a yellow to amber viscous liquid or cream. As one of the sorbitan ester family, Sorbitan Monolaurate has an HLB value of 8.6, indicating that it is a water-in-oil (W/O) emulsifier.
Uses: Sorbitan Monolaurate is commonly employed as an emulsifying agent in pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations. In the textile industry, it serves not only as an emulsifier but also functions as a wetting agent. Sorbitan Monolaurate(Span 20) is also utilized in industrial processes such as the production of synthetic fibers and plastics.

Sorbitan Monolaurate Span 20

Sorbitan Monostearate (Span 60)

Sorbitan Monostearate, also known as SMS or Span 60, is a chemical compound synthesized from sorbitan esterified with stearic acid. E491 sorbitan monostearate is a surfactant and emulsifier commonly used in various industries, including food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and industrial applications.

Here are some key characteristics and uses of Sorbitan Monostearate:
Chemical Formula: C24H46O6   CAS NO.: 1338-41-6  EEC NO. E491
Properties: Span 60 is a type of sorbitan ester, specifically the monoester of stearic acid and sorbitol. Sorbitan Monostearate appears as a white to light yellow waxy powder or flake. Sorbitan Monostearate has an HLB value of 4.7, indicating relatively low hydrophilicity.
Uses: Sorbitan Monostearate finds diverse applications, including maintaining yeast moisture and enhancing oil-water dispersion stability. Emulsifier e491 is an important food ingredient that frequently appears in dry yeast, ice cream, confections, chocolate, bread, cake, whipping cream, dessert, peanut butter, etc. What’s more, Span 60 often serves as an emulsifying and stabilizing agent in formulations for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, feed, coatings, textiles, etc.


Sorbitan Monooleate (Span 80)

Sorbitan Monooleate, also known as Span 80 or SMO, is a compound synthesized from sorbitan esterified with oleic acid. Sorbitan Monooleate is a valuable ingredient that has many beneficial uses in both the food and cosmetic industries.

Here is some information about Sorbitan Monooleate:
Chemical Formula: C24H44O6  CAS NO.: 1338-43-8   EEC NO. E494
Properties: Sorbitan Monooleate appears as an amber to brown viscous oily liquid. Sorbitan Monooleate is assigned the E number E494. Span 80’s HLB value is 4.3 which indicates its role as a water-in-oil (W/O) emulsifier.
Uses: In the food sector, Sorbitan Monooleate emulsifiers and stabilizers bring stability to food products and help elevate their texture and consistency. This makes it a popular choice for creating delicious ice creams, margarine, bakery goods, spreads, and salad dressings.
In the world of cosmetics, Sorbitan Monooleate (Span 80) is a widely used surfactant and emulsifier. Span 80 emulsifier is valued for its ability to blend oil and water together. So, sorbitan monooleate emulsifier is often found in lotions, creams, shampoos, and other hair care products. Span 80 emulsifier is commonly used in combination with Polysorbate 80.

Sorbitan Monooleate Span 80

Final Words

Common Sorbitan esters examples include sorbitan monolaurate, sorbitan monostearate, and sorbitan monooleate, each finding applications in diverse formulations. These compounds contribute to the texture, stability, and shelf life of products. These chemicals are indispensable in the production of food items, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetic formulations.

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