Alternative Thickeners for Your Hand Sanitizers

Alternative Thickeners for Your Hand Sanitizers

Carbomer, a common thickener used to increase the viscosity of hand sanitizers. However, the current situation has resulted in a shortage in many chemicals including Carbomer. So what are some alternatives that you can consider?

Some considerations that formulators have when selecting a suitable thickener are ability to withstand high alcohol content and providing good end product clarity. Read on to find out the alternatives that we can provide, Celquat SC-230M and Maha Guar 303.

About Celquat SC-230M

Celquat SC-230M, polyquaternium-10, is a conditioning agent with significant thickening effect. The cationic charge on the polymer makes it substantive to the skin and hair. It can be used in various skin and hair applications, including shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, creams and hand sanitizers.

Why is CELQUAT SC-230M a Good Alternative?

As all of you know, a major problem with hand sanitizers is their dehydrating property and frequent usage during the Covid-19 period can irritate the skin. Therefore, humectants and skin conditioning agents are usually incorporated to reduce its drying effect. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the drying effect of alcohol can be reduced or eliminated by adding 1-3% glycerol or other skin conditioning agents. Hence, in times of a carbomer shortage, CELQUAT SC-230M is a functional alternative. Not only can it help you to achieve your desired viscosity, it can also provide additional emollience.

pH Stability

CELQUAT SC-230M polymer solutions can be subjected to chemical hydrolysis at extreme pH. It is recommended that products should be in the pH range of 4 to 8 to obtain optimum stability.

Other Benefits
  • Clarity
  • Imparts smooth, rich feel to skin or hair
  • Forms clear aqueous solutions and non-tacky continuous films

About Maha Guar 303

Maha Guar 303 is a non-ionic polymer derived from natural guar gum. It can be used in a wide range of skin, hair and home applications such as hair conditioners, facial cleansers, hand sanitizers and hard surface cleaners.

Why is Maha Guar 303 a Good Alternative?

It has good compatibility with electrolytes and is stable over a wide pH range. This includes having optimum compatibility with polar solvent which is a main component found in hand sanitizers. Maha Guar 303 can thicken alcohol, stabilize emulsions and provide smooth skin feel.  Other than that, hand sanitizers formulated with Maha Guar 303 has good clarity.

Formulation Guide: Hand Sanitizer with Celquat SC-230M

Phase Material INCI Name Supplier % W/W
A Celquat SC-230M Polyquaternium-10 AkzoNobel Global Personal Care 1.00
Deionized Water Water (Aqua)  22.75
Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol 75.00
Glycerin* Glycerin Maha Chemicals 1.00
Fragrance Fragrance 0.25


  1. Add CELQUAT SC-230M polymer to the deionized water. Mix, using moderate agitation, until solution thickens.
  2. Add the alcohol and increase the level of agitation to high. Mix until homogeneous.
  3. Pre-mix glycerin and fragrance. Add to the batch and mix until homogeneous.
  4. *Glycerin can be replaced with Aloe Vera Extract

End Product Appearance

Appearance Clear gel
pH 6.5-7.0
Viscosity, cps 8,500 – 12,500 cps (RVTD, Spindle 4, 20 rpm)

Formulation Guide: Hand Sanitizer with Maha Guar 303

Phase Material INCI Name Supplier % W/W
A Deionized Water Water (Aqua)  23.85
Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol 75.00
Maha Guar 303 Hydroxypropyl Guar Maha Chemicals 1.00
Citric Acid Citric Acid 0.15


  1. Mix water with Ethanol and agitate at 300 rpm.
  2. Add Maha Guar 303 gradually and mix at 450rpm.
  3. Add Citric acid
  4. *Glycerin can be replaced by Aloe Vera Extract

End Product Appearance

Appearance Clear gel
pH 5.5
Viscosity, cps 2600 mPa.s

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