You've been looking forward to having the house to yourself for a few hours on Saturday morning, and the workshop beckons! ARGH! I'm out of something essential (for me, it's usually aloe vera). Substitution to the rescue!
I have BTMS-25 not BTMS-50 and I want to make a liquid conditioner!
BTMS is INCI Name: Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol.
BTMS-50 is INCI Name: Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetyl Alcohol (and) Butylene Glycol. This is the one I refer to as "Incroquat BTMS" in my recipese
The key difference is the amount of behentrimonium methosulfate - the cationic quat. It's about 25% in BTMS and 50% in BTMS 50. Which means you are going to increase the amount of BTMS you use in a recipe to get the same conditioning level.
You'll want to modify your liquid conditioner this way...
- add cetyl alcohol to the BTMS at 25% the amount of BTMS (normally you'd add 50% to match the amount of cationic quat);
- up the amount of BTMS in a recipe. If you want 6%, you'll want to increase that amount by 50% to ensure you have enough cationic quat to 9%; and
- add a humectant like glycerin or something else to compensate for the lack of butylene glycol. (If you are adding honeyquat, you've got another humectant in there.)
For a solid conditioner, you're fine with just using the BTMS-25 as per the recipe.
I want to make a conditioner, but I don't have cetrimonium chloride.
Leave it out. I know of one place to get it - The Personal Formulator. If you don't have access to this ingredient, try a conditioner without it. Just because I love it doesn't mean you will!
I want to make a lotion, but I'm out of emulsifying wax!
Then use BTMS at the same amount. It is going to make your lotion less greasy and more powdery, but perhaps you like it that way! Or take this as an opportunity to learn more about the HLB system and come up with your own emulsifying system!
I'm dying to make a lotion or cream, but I'm out of stearic acid!
Then substitute cetyl alcohol or vice versa. (I will have more about these two ingredients in the next little while...) Although these products are not the same, they serve the pretty much same function. They thicken your lotion and provide some co-emulsifying. The end feel is different - I liken my body butter with stearic acid to whipped butter, with cetyl alcohol to Cool Whip - but you'll get all the thickening you need from either. I find the stearic acid can be a bit draggy on my skin, but I love the way it keeps cream on my feet and elbows.
I'm out of glycerin!
Try another humectant. Unless glycerin is vital to the chemistry of the recipe - and I can't think of one off the top of my head - then you have a world of humectants waiting to be used! Hydrovance, sodium lactate, olive oil, honeyquat - you'll never know if you like them if you don't try them!
I know I keep harping on and on about knowing your end goal and your ingredients but it gives us more freedom to play when we can substitute on the fly. When you get a new oil or butter, try it neat on your arm. How does it feel? Greasy, glidy, dry, silky, heavy, light, occlusive? Write down your thoughts so you can switch out the oils to suit your needs. Try your favourite lotion with another humectant or cationic polymer, or make a body wash with other surfactants. You may hate the new creation or it may become your new Saturday night thing. I was incredibly surprised to learn my hair hated silk protein, love oat protein, and was fairly indifferent to soy protein!
It doesn't serve us well to grow too dependent upon an ingredient or blend from a company as they might discontinue it and we'll be searching everywhere to find it! Anyone remember Croda's threat to stop selling to the public? We'd lose Incroquat CR, Incroquat BTMS, Polawax and more! It didn't come to pass, but I took it as a call to learn more about the HLB system! (Although I have yet to find a substitute for BTMS. I did try cetrimonium bromide as my primary cationic, and it was okay but not great!)
Always know the INCI of the product you are purchasing: A lot of suppliers change the name of the ingredient and you can get it elsewhere. And if you can't, then figure out what it brings to the recipe and put together something else.
What ingredients are you lacking? Post 'em here and we'll brain storm some substitutions.