What Are Silicone Emulsions?

Silicone emulsions are silicone oils dispersed within an aqueous system. These emulsions are particularly well-suited for surface treatments due to their ease of application and straightforward preparation.

Chemical structure

Emulsification effectively reduces the high viscosity of specific silicone oils. The primary objective in formulating silicone emulsions is to enhance and streamline the product’s presentation, processing, and efficiency. The components present in emulsions, including the carrier (usually water), silicone, and emulsifiers, do not undergo reactions with each other or the surfaces they are applied to. This makes emulsions highly suitable for surface treatment applications as they exhibit lower viscosity compared to the oils they deliver.

Another advantage lies in the simplicity of their preparation: Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) oils are dispersed (emulsified) within an aqueous system. Additionally, PDMS oils are particularly convenient as they are easy and safe for end users to handle, apply, and dilute.

Silicone emulsions properties

Silicone emulsions are versatile industrial products that find applications in various fields due to their beneficial properties such as inert, heat stable, non-toxic, and ability to provide lubrication, gloss, antistatic, protective, and release effects.

Silicone emulsions are insoluble silicones evenly dispersed in water facilitated by an emulsifying surfactant. They can be categorized into three groups depending on the type of emulsifier system employed: anionic, cationic, and non-ionic. While most emulsions are non-ionic and compatible with both systems, the preference for cationic or anionic emulsions depends on the specific application.

If necessary, the viscosity of these emulsions can be adjusted by incorporating different polymers, allowing for customized physical characteristics. Concentrated forms with high solid percentages are available, which can be diluted with water before use. This not only reduces transportation costs but also minimizes storage space requirements.

Silicone fluids are commonly utilized in the form of aqueous emulsions, which can be further diluted with water. There are two types of emulsions distinguished by particle size: opaque (milky) macro-emulsions with particle sizes ranging from 100 nm to several µm, and clear or opalescent micro-emulsions with particle sizes below 100 nm.

Why Use Silicone Emulsions?

Silicone emulsions offer user-friendly and convenient application methods while also being environmentally preferable to solvent-based systems they do not introduce additional health risks in the workplace. A notable example is their usage by manufacturers of baking and cooking paper, who opt for silicone emulsions as coatings instead of solvent-containing formulations. The even distribution of a thin layer of silicone on various substrates enhances non-stick performance, promoting hygiene, reducing food waste, and improving efficiency in both industrial and home cooking applications. These silicone emulsion-based food papers are suitable for diverse cooking methods, including baking, pan-frying, and steaming.

Emulsion silicones find utility in several areas:

  • Rubber and plastics industry: They serve as release agents and lubricants.
  • Food industry: They function as release agents in food trays and plastic serving dishes.
  • Automotive and household cleaning products: They enhance protection, resistance, gloss, and spreadability in car polishes and household cleaners.
  • Textile finishing: They improve the feel of textiles, provide water repellency, and reduce the need for ironing.
  • Construction materials: They are used in materials like perlite, vermiculite, clay, and others to enhance water repellency and protect against dampness.
  • Printing and papermaking: They serve as lubricants and antistatic agents in these processes.

Silicone Emulsions Application

Silicone emulsions find diverse applications across various industries. They are utilized as release coatings, textile and tissue softeners, antifoams, and water repellents in paints, lubricants, and demoulding agents, as well as in the realm of personal care.

Furthermore, beyond their role as process facilitators in the industries mentioned in our previous summary, silicone emulsions are also incorporated as formulation ingredients in cosmetics and body care products. Particularly in shampoos, these emulsions provide the hair with a luxurious silky softness, facilitating easier combing and detangling after washing

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See more: Silicone Fluid


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