A personal care products manufacturer was having difficulty fully dispersing and hydrating Carbopol® 940 in their batches of hand sanitizer gel. Carbopol is a water soluble thickener/stabilizer agent that, when wetted, expands into a gel.
The Challenge of Carbopol
The major challenge with introducing Carbopol into water is to avoid clumping. Processors need to mix it thoroughly for it to expand properly or it will clump and fall to the bottom of the tank or stick to the sides. When that happens, processors have to add additional powder and continue to mix it until the final product has expanded to the desired consistency, wasting ingredients and time. In addition to clumps in the product, Carbopol can expand so fast it can even clog systems, causing the process to stop for labor intensive and time consuming clean-up.
A Traditional Approach
This processor was initially using top entry high-shear agitators in their batch tanks to mix 40 kg of Carbopol® 940 into 3,000 kg of water, per batch. The tanks had a slow agitator for turning the contents of the tank and a top entry high-shear agitator for dispersing the Carbopol. Unfortunately, the process resulted in clumping and required them to add additional Carbopol to get the right consistency, as wells as mix the product up to 3 additional hours, with some batches.
A New Approach
During a meeting with their Fristam distributor, it was recommended they try a Fristam Powder Mixer instead of the top entry high-shear agitator. A trial was scheduled for a Powder Mixer model 10-52 with optional vibrator, with two Fristam representatives and their distributor partner attending.
During the trial, the Powder Mixer was placed at floor level next to the tank, connected by a flexible hose. The operators were able to pour all 40 kg of Carbopol at once into the tabletop funnel of the Powder Mixer and begin the process. Since the Powder Mixer utilizes a Fristam FZX self-priming pump to pull solids into liquids uniformly, it is easy to control the induction rate. Then, with an inline blender, the Fristam FS, the premix is forced through minute gaps to produce a consistent texture.
Saving Thousands of Hours
The Powder Mixer was able to fully disperse the Carbopol® 940 on the first pass and ensure a thorough dispersion before the product even got into the tank. Because the Powder Mixer dispersed the product so well, they were able to reduce their blend times from 3 hours to merely 15 minutes per batch. Considering that they were running 3-5 batches per day, 5 days a week, the time savings is substantial—between 2,000 to 3,500 hours per year.
Manufacturers of shampoos, conditioners, lotions and medical gels, like this one, have found that the Fristam Powder Mixer quickly pays for itself by speeding up their process, reducing ingredients waste and improving product consistency.