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The Versatility of Sorbitan Monooleate in Multiple Industries

Sorbitan monooleate emulsifier is found in a range of products, including food items (salad dressings, baked goods), cosmetics (creams, lotions), pharmaceuticals (oral medications, topical creams), and industrial applications (paints, coatings). This blog mainly introduces Sorbitan Monooleate’s origin, uses, and differences between polysorbate 80.

What is Sorbitan Monooleate Food Additive?

Sorbitan monooleate is indeed derived from the reaction between sorbitol and oleic acid, resulting in an ester compound. Span80 is a lipophilic surfactant substance which means it is soluble in lipids or oils. Sorbitan monooleate is particularly effective in emulsifying oil-in-water systems. Sorbitan monooleate(Span80) finds application across diverse industries, serving as an emulsifier and surfactant in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and various industrial processes.

Sorbitan monooleate emulsifier is commonly used in conjunction with polysorbates to achieve specific emulsification and stabilization effects. In addition to emulsification, sorbitan monooleate emulsifier is employed to alter the crystallization characteristics of oils, contributing to the texture and stability of various products.
Sorbitan Monooleate span 80

Is Sorbitan Monooleate Soluble In Water?

No, Sorbitan monooleate (Span 80) is almost insoluble in water. A lower HLB value suggests a more oil-soluble character, while a higher HLB value indicates a more water-soluble character.
The HLB of sorbitan monooleate is approximately 4.3. This indicates Span 80 is more soluble in oil and is often used as an emulsifier in oil-in-water emulsions.

What is Sorbitan Monooleate Made From?

Sorbitan monooleate is a nonionic surfactant and emulsifier. The synthesis involves the following steps:
Sorbitol Reaction: Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, undergoes a reaction with ethylene oxide to form polyoxyethylene sorbitol. This reaction increases the hydrophilic (water-attracting) nature of the molecule.
Esterification: The polyoxyethylene sorbitol then undergoes esterification with oleic acid. Esterification involves the combination of the hydroxyl groups from the polyoxyethylene sorbitol with the carboxyl groups from the oleic acid. This step imparts the molecule with lipophilic (oil-attracting) properties due to the oleic acid chain.

Where is Sorbitan Monooleate (Span 80) Found?

Food Industry:

Ø  Fine bakery products
Ø  Candy coatings
Ø  Salad dressings and mayonnaise
Ø  Oil emulsions
Ø  Margarine and spreads
Ø  Ice cream and frozen desserts
Ø  Whipped toppings and creams
Ø  Chocolates

Cosmetics and Personal Care Products:

Ø  Creams and Lotions
Ø  Shampoos, conditioners, and styling products
Ø  Foundations, lipsticks, and other makeup products
Ø  Sunscreen



Ø  Oral medications
Ø  Topical creams and ointments


Industrial Applications:

Ø  Paints and coatings
Ø  Lubricants and metalworking fluids
Ø  Textile and plastics industry

Sorbitan Monooleate in bread

What is the Difference Between Span80 and Polysorbate80?

Span 80 and Polysorbate 80 are both surfactants, but they have different chemical structures and properties. Here are the key differences between Span 80 and Polysorbate 80:

Chemical Structure:

Span 80 (Sorbitan Monooleate) is derived from sorbitol and oleic acid. It has a sorbitol backbone with a single oleic acid chain, making it a nonionic surfactant with lipophilic properties.
Polysorbate 80 is a polyoxyethylene derivative of sorbitan monooleate. Polysorbate 80 is created by ethoxylation of sorbitan monooleate, adding polyoxyethylene chains to the sorbitol backbone. This modification increases its hydrophilic character.

HLB Value:

Span 80 has a relatively low Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance (HLB) of around 4.3, indicating a more lipophilic or oil-soluble nature. Therefore, sorbitan monooleate (e494) is commonly used in oil-in-water emulsions.
Polysorbate 80 has a higher HLB value compared to Span 80, usually around 15.0. This higher HLB value makes Polysorbate 80 more hydrophilic, and it is often used in water-in-oil emulsions.


Sorbitan monooleate span 80 is often used as an emulsifier in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics where oil-in-water emulsions are required. Span 80 emulsifier can stabilize emulsions and improve the texture of various products.
Polysorbate 80 for sale is commonly used in a wide range of applications. It is often regarded as a solubilizer, emulsifier, and stabilizer in pharmaceuticals, food products, cosmetics, and vaccines. Polysorbate 80 emulsifier is versatile and effective in both oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions.
In summary, both Span 80 and Polysorbate 80 are surfactants and emulsifiers. Span 80 is more oil-soluble and is used primarily in oil-in-water emulsions, whereas Polysorbate 80 is more water-soluble and is versatile in various emulsion systems.


Is Sorbitan Monooleate Harmful?

No, it is safe for consumption. The safety of sorbitan monooleate is often assessed by regulatory agencies in different countries. In the United States, sorbitan Monooleate is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in accordance with FDA regulations. In the European Union, sorbitan Monooleate is approved as a food additive (E number E494).

The Takeaway

In summary, sorbitan monooleate emulsifier and surfactant plays a crucial role in creating stable emulsions, improving product texture, and enhancing stability in a wide range of applications across different industries. Its lipophilic nature and compatibility with other surfactants make it a valuable ingredient in formulations for various consumer and industrial products.


CHEMSINO is a leading supplier and manufacturer of sorbitan monooleate or sorbitan oleate in China. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us for sorbitan monooleate price and free samples.
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