November 28, 2022


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Testing: Sodium Carbomer Gel Concentrate

4 min read
sodiumcarbomerfront curlytea

Today I made a super thick sodium carbomer (preneutralized carbomer) gel concentrate which is the base gel I’ll use to test different thicknesses, different percentages, different ingredients, etc for use on my hair.

Update Gel Concentrate testing update below

This gel concentrate is based on a carbomer that has already been neutralized which makes it possible to create room temperature gels.

Just add sodium carbomer to room temperature water, mix it a bit with a spoon or something, and leave it alone.  You will see lumps which will dissolve on their own as you slow mix it occasionally. Yes, its that easy.

NOTE: Sodium carbomer can be purchased from  Usage rate is normally from 0.2% to 0.5% in a finished product.

This concentrate includes some of the basic things I want in all hair gels I make.  The percentages for the uber-thick CONCENTRATE are listed below:

88.3%    Purified Water
1%        Sodium carbomer
2.2%    Agave Nectar
6.5%    wispy amounts of Guar gum (for slip) in Vegetable glycerin
1%        Coconut oil (I use Tropical Traditions brand)
1%        Capric Caprylic Triglycerides

This will get you the ultra thick gel concentrate. With this concentrate, I plan to use a certain percentage of it along with a certain percentage of water and other oils.  These other ingredients will be incorporated and the consistency and/or clarity of the gel will change.

sodiumcarbomberconcentrate10162012wConclusions So Far

1. The concentrate itself (using it directly on the hair) is incredibly thick, had a firm hold with a little crunchiness. Crunchiness was easily eliminated by added a small amount of oil to the hair.  There could actually be some people who would prefer to use something this thick to help slick down edges.

2. The concentrate does take on an additional amount of water or higher pH teas (ex. Rooibos tea).

3. I can confirm sodium carbomer itself hates the Neodefend preservative.  Neodefend decreases the pH of whatever you put it in.  Sodium carbomer turns water into gel because the pH of the water is above 5.   So when you add Neodefend (or something to it that decreases the pH) it destroys the gel and turns the mix back into liquid.

Further Testing

1 TBSP of concentrate can fill at least a 6 ounce container after additional water is added.

In the following pic, I added 1TBSP of concentrate to 3 TBSP of water:


The gel was super thick, but has no slip or ‘stickiness’ because water and sodium carbomer are the only ingredients

In the following pic, you can see 1TBSP of concentrate to 7 TBSP of water:


As you can see, the gel is still thick even though it has incorporated 7 times the water for the amount of gel concentrate I added.

In the following pic, I added
1TBSP of concentrate to 7 TBSP of water
1 TBSP glycerin
1/2 TBSP Agave Nectar
Wispy amounts of Guar Gum added to 1 TBSP Fractionated Coconut oil


There is definitely a certain amount of slip thanks to the Guar Gum.  Guar gum is also a film former which will help keep the hair detangled depending on how much guar you’ve added and how much of the gel you’ve used on your hair.

I can confirm that both Hibiscus tea and Slippery Elm Bark tea destroyed the gel matrix because they lowered the pH of the mix.  Sodium carbomer must have a pH of 6 (some say 5) or higher.

The bottom line so far is that this is not an Ecostyler replacement, of course. LOL!  But I’ll continue to use it and test to see how it does in the future with other types of ingredients.

I’m waiting on my hair to dry after I clarified, oiled it with my latest shea butter whip (more on that later) and used some of the gel.

I should add that this gel is being kept in the refrigerator until I can find a good quality nonparaben preservative that doesn’t need a pH of 5 or below in order to work correctly. 😛



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