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Easy-to-Formulate LAUNDRY DETERGENTS: Pilot Chemical's patent-pending super concentrate blend of anionic, nonionic and cationic surfactants facilitates liquid and unit dose formulas that have superior cleaning performance, ease of formulation and handling, and improved sustainability.

AFORMULATOR'S DREAM is to come up with an ideal formula that is cost/performance effective and can be developed in a rather short period without making tens, if not hundreds, of prototypes while slogging through endless rounds of testing and data generation. We formulators need to meet various deadlines and juggle demands on a daily basis. It would be nice to have some help to make it easier to develop a formula.

Pilot Chemical Company's super concentrate is a patent-pending, efficient, and innovative blend of anionic, nonionic and cationic surfactants that is nearly 100% active liquid. It is a cold processable, low viscosity, free free-flowing liquid with a low freeze point for easy handling and storage. The super concentrate formula has exceptional detergency performance; and can be used to develop laundry unit dose, liquid laundry detergents and hard surface cleaners.

The proprietary super concentrate blend of anionic, cationic and nonionic surfactants in specific ratios makes the product a high-performing base formulation product. Formulators can use about 30% less of the super concentrate surfactant blend in liquid laundry detergents than conventional surfactants used in laundry applications and get comparable or better detergency performance. It is effortless to formulate a unit dose laundry detergent using Pilot's super concentrate product. Just adding enzymes to the blend yields a high-performing unit dose laundry detergent formula.

A significant market trend in cleaning products is sustainability which can mean using less water and delivering higher actives in the formula. In laundry detergents, there has been a move toward ultra, 3X, 4X, 5X formulations, and most recently unit dose products using a minimum amount of water. For formulating companies, high active and low water-containing raw materials provide many economic benefits when formulating finished products. Concentrated products reduce employee exposure to chemical raw materials, decrease shipping weight and volume, package size, storage space, transportation costs, and processing time--all of which improve the sustainability and economic profile of the product. Furthermore, an easily pourable super concentrate like Pilot's product requires less labor to receive and process for a batch of the final product.

Pilot's super concentrate product can be used to formulate various grades of liquid laundry detergents such as laundry pods, premium, mid-tier and economy type formulas. We developed several laundry detergent formulas, and an independent testing laboratory evaluated the detergency performance of these formulas compared to leading national brand laundry detergents in the US market.

Performance Testing

The following graphs show the overall detergency performance of the super concentrate blend compared to various household liquid laundry detergents on 10 different soils as listed in the procedure. The best performer was given 100% on the graph, and the remaining products were assigned ratings based on their performance as compared to the best performer.


Soiled fabric swatches (clay, coffee, cran/grape, dust-sebum, EMPA112, EMPA 116, grass, makeup, mud, spaghetti) from Test Fabrics and Scientific Services were used in the detergency test. Three swatches of each of the above listed soils were placed in the washing machine (G.E. Model #GTW330ASKOWW). The water hardness was adjusted to 150ppm. The wash water temperature was adjusted to 90[degrees]F. The machine was run at a normal cycle (12-minute wash). The reflectance of the swatches was measured before and after washing with a Photovolt 577A reflectometer. The percent soil removal was computed from the reflectance value of each swatch before and after soiling and after washing and averaged for each set of replicates.

Formulation Procedure

Add all ingredients in the order listed are combined with constant mixing. Mix well after adding each ingredient until the batch is clear, smooth, and homogenous without lumps or particles. Mix for an extra hour after all ingredients have been added. The final batch should be clear, smooth, homogenous and without any lumps or particles.

Handling, Storage and Processing

Physical Properties--The physical properties of the super concentrate blend make it easy to handle and store even at low temperatures, Table 1. Its low color also enables the formulator to deliver products in a wide array of colors.

pH Stability and additive compatibility--The super concentrate blend is stable over a wide pH range of 1-13. To assess pH stability and additive compatibility, we prepared 5%wt solutions of the blend in deionized water and to 100g of this solution, and added various alkalis, acids and salts until the solution became cloudy. The amounts needed to reach cloudiness are listed in Table 2.

Viscosity--The viscosity of the super concentrate blend remains low upon dilution with water until its concentration gets to about 60%wt. At 60-80%wt the viscosity increases to 2,500-8,000cP. And then at 90%wt, the viscosity drops back to 200cP. The adjustment of viscosity in a finished formula using Pilot's product is easy. The viscosity can be increased by using an anionic hydrophobically modified alkali-soluble acrylic polymer emulsion (HASE) like Aculyn 22 from Dow. Propylene glycol can be used to reduce the viscosity.


Pilot's new patent pending super concentrate surfactant blend provides the formulator an exciting new opportunity to make distinguishable and superior performing products. The versatility of the product to formulate into products across multiple market segments is a unique feature of the product that significantly helps reduce the time to market for the products. The nearly 100% actives content of the super concentrate blend and its mild compositions also supports our customers' sustainability goals.

Shoaib Arif * Pilot Chemical Company

About the Author

Shoaib Arif is a research chemist at Pilot Chemical Company, Cincinnati, OH. He has more than 40 years of experience in surfactant applications, technical service, product development and formulations involving personal care and HI&I products. Pilot Chemical Company is a privately owned and independent global specialty chemical company providing high quality products and services to the disinfecting, sanitizing and cleaning; metalworking and lubricants; oil field and emulsion polymerization industries. To learn more about Pilot's patent pending super concentrate blend, request samples or inquiry about other products, visit
Starting Formula for Liquid Detergents

Formula #                               Premium 910-49-2
Water                                   to 100%

Propylene glycol                        5.0
Pilot super concentrate blend           20.0
Sodium citrate                          2.0
Sodium formate                          0.2
Calcium chloride                        0.1
Aculy 22 (Dow)
Sodium hydroxide 10% sol.
Tinopal CBS-X                           0.05
PH Adjustment: Adjust pH to 8-9 using
citric acid or sodium hydroxide 10%
Protease (Progress Uno 100L-Novozymes)  2.0
Mannanase (Mannaway 4.0 L-Novozymes)    1.0
Amylase (Amplify Prime 100L-Novozymes)  1.0
Preservative, perfume, dye              Q.S.

Formula #                               Mid-Tier 910-49-3
Water                                   to 100%

Propylene glycol
Pilot super concentrate blend           15.0
Sodium citrate                           2.0
Sodium formate
Calcium chloride
Aculy 22 (Dow)                           2.0
Sodium hydroxide 10% sol.                1.0
Tinopal CBS-X                            0.05
PH Adjustment: Adjust pH to 8-9 using
citric acid or sodium hydroxide 10%
Protease (Progress Uno 100L-Novozymes)
Mannanase (Mannaway 4.0 L-Novozymes)
Amylase (Amplify Prime 100L-Novozymes)
Preservative, perfume, dye              Q.S

Formula #                               Economy 910-49-4
Water                                   to 100%

Propylene glycol
Pilot super concentrate blend           10.0
Sodium citrate                           2.0
Sodium formate
Calcium chloride
Aculy 22 (Dow)                           2.0
Sodium hydroxide 10% sol.                1.0
Tinopal CBS-X                            0.05
PH Adjustment: Adjust pH to 8-9 using
citric acid or sodium hydroxide 10%
Protease (Progress Uno 100L-Novozymes)
Mannanase (Mannaway 4.0 L-Novozymes)
Amylase (Amplify Prime 100L-Novozymes)
Preservative, perfume, dye              Q.S

Table 1: Pilot Super Concentrate Physical Properties

Color (Klett, 5% 40 mm)  7
% Solids/ Actives        >97 %
Viscosity                Brookfield RV viscometer,
                         spindle #3, 20 RPM, 25 C
@10C                     1200 cP
@25C                     550 cP
@40C                     200 cP
PH                       7-8
Freeze Point             -5 C

Table 2: pH and Additives Compatible with Pilot's Super Concentrate

Additive                  Quantity of additive         Final pH

Sodium Hydroxide 50%        3.9 g                      13.5
Monoisopropanolamine 99%  100 g (Mixture still clear)  11.9
Sodium Carbonate 25%       18.5 g                      10.3
TKPP 50%                    6.5 g                       9.0
Tetrasodium EDTA 33.3%     23.7 g                       9.8
Sodium Metasilicate 20%    20.9 g                      13.1
Hydrochloric Acid 37%       1.9g                        0.8
Phosphoric Acid 85%        18.0g                        0.6
Citric Acid 25%           100g (Mixture still clear)    1.5
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Article Details
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Author:Arif, Shoaib
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Date:Jul 1, 2020
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