Raw material for wet wipes production: (2) What is the “wet” in the wipes?

Wet wipes by their very definition are impregnated wipes, but what is this ‘Wet’ stuff. Is it just water? What else is in the liquid of wet wipes? What gives it good cleaning properties? To give you a better idea, we will run through some of the main ingredients found within the formulations of Wet Wipes.

1.Cleaning Ingredient Classification

The ingredient can be classified into the basic type and the Auxiliary or functional type.

Water is the main ingredient and serves as a carrier and diluent for the other ingredients.

The application of the solution depends on what function of wipes you want to achieve.

There are basic preservative system and composite system:

1.  The basic solution contains preservatives system only.

▲ This formula applies to all kinds of wet wipes for human body use e.g. cleansing wipes, wipes used in hotel, baby wet wipes.

2.  The composite solution includes not only a preservative system but also Auxiliaryingredient such as a surfactant, nutrition substance (Sodium-PCA), moisturizer, anti-oxidant to achieve a particular function of wipes.

▲ This formula applies to the functional wipes e.g. makeup removal wipes, kitchen wipes, industrial wipes, pet wipes, baby wipes.

Preservative system(core) + Functional ingredient (auxiliary)= composite solution

2. Ingredient illustration

1)   Preservatives

There are two main types of solutions found in wet wipes, these are an aqueous or emulsion-based solution. Both require preservatives in order to protect them from bacterial or even fungal contamination and most importantly protect the consumer. Preservatives do this by stopping micro-organisms from multiplying in a product.

Wet wipe products that contain high alcohol content (say above 15%) can be self-preserving and may not require additional preservatives. In institutional healthcare, markets are not uncommon to find products with an alcohol content of up to 70% for high-level disinfection.

For cosmetic and personal care markets (i.e. for use on skin) it is a very different story. Consumers are more aware of the ingredients found in their products and their potential hazards. As a result, there is a growing trend for products to contain no controversial preservative ingredients.

Preservatives are subject to negative press in media but nevertheless, they play an important role in wet wipe products. The function of a preservative system is to protect wet wipe products from microbiological contamination and growth.

2) Surfactants

Surfactants or ‘surface active agents’ can be found in the formulation of wet wipes. Their role is to lower the surface tension of water making it easier to remove material, for example, soil from surface or skin. They also provide a cleaning effect by being able to dissolve dirt.

3) Emollients  

Emollients are another ingredient that can be found in Wet Wipes. Their role is to help keep the skin dry, not by putting moisture into the skin, but by reducing water loss through a protective film on the skin.

They are typically used to treat dry skin conditions such as eczema and are particularly important in both to reduce itching and protecting against environmental irritants. The everyday use of soaps, shampoos and shower gels can remove your skin’s surface layer of natural oils. This can make your skin dry and can further aggravate long-term skin conditions such as eczema.

4) PH adjusters – The formulation often contains a pH adjuster such as Citric Acid or Sodium Citrate. This is common in skincare wet wipe products, where you will often see ‘pH balanced’ on the packaging. The pH is set around 4.5 -5.0 which is close to that of healthy skin.

5) Anti-oxidants – in a formulation potentially some oils could turn rancid due to oxidation and give off an unpleasant odour. If those oils are present anti-oxidants are included like Vitamin E acetate in order to prevent oxidation from occurring.

6)Moisturizers – Moisturisers such as D-Panthenol can be added to a formulation to help increase the water content of the skin and keep it soft. These are typically found in skincare products such as make-up removal wipes, face wipes, and hand wipes.

6) Fragrance

The all-important pleasant smelling scent from a wipe, the fragrance is made from aroma compounds added to the formulation. These compounds are made of volatile chemicals that create an odour which can be sensed by the olfactory receptors in the nose.

Next article we would move on to the packaging material for wet wipes

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