Is it normal for alcohol ethoxylates to gel and swell when a little water is added?

Lauryl alcohol ethoxylate 9 or 10 moles EO is a medium viscosity, white paste at room temperature
but when some water is added, just some as to dilute it 1:1 or 1:2, it becomes a clear, swollen thick gel that clumps together.
Is that normal?

If further diluted, it becomes a milky white, water-thin solution
becoming colorless if further diluted (as expected).

Can you take advantage of it, and make concentrated HI&I cleaning gels with it?
Thanks guys.


  • DASDAS Member
    Yes, that's normal. Hot water or a more hydrophilic co-surfactant will do the trick. 

    And no, it won't remain a gel since its not a gel, just the material clumping due to its partial affinity with water.
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    Yes this is normal behaviour.

    Have a look at the table on page 6 of this document ( to see how different amounts of water change the viscosity of some BASF ethoxylated surfactants.
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