Polysorbate 80

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Polysorbate 80[1]
Polysorbate 80.png
IUPAC name
Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate
Other names
Montanox 80
Alkest TW 80
Tween 80
PS 80
  • none
ECHA InfoCard 100.105.529
E number E433 (thickeners, ...)
RTECS number WG2932500
Molar mass 1310 g/mol
Appearance Amber colored viscous liquid
Density 1.06–1.09 g/mL, oily liquid
Boiling point > 100°C
Very soluble
Solubility in other solvents soluble in ethanol, cottonseed oil, corn oil, ethyl acetate, methanol, toluene
Viscosity 300–500 centistokes (@25°C)
Main hazards Irritant
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g. canola oilHealth code 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g. turpentineReactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 113 °C (235 °F; 386 K)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Polysorbate 80 is a nonionic surfactant and emulsifier often used in foods and cosmetics. This synthetic compound is a viscous, water-soluble yellow liquid.


Polysorbate 80 is derived from polyethoxylated sorbitan and oleic acid. The hydrophilic groups in this compound are polyethers also known as polyoxyethylene groups, which are polymers of ethylene oxide. In the nomenclature of polysorbates, the numeric designation following polysorbate refers to the lipophilic group, in this case the oleic acid (see polysorbate for more detail).

The full chemical names for polysorbate 80 are:

  • Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate
  • (x)-sorbitan mono-9-octadecenoate poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl)

The critical micelle concentration of polysorbate 80 in pure water is reported as 0.012 mM.[2]

Other names[edit]

E number: E433

Brand names:

  • Alkest TW 80
  • Scattics
  • Canarcel
  • Poegasorb 80
  • Montanox 80 – Montanox is a registered trademark of Seppic
  • Tween 80 – Tween is a registered trademark of Croda Americas, Inc.[3]


Food use[edit]

Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in foods.

For example, in ice cream, polysorbate is added up to 0.5% (v/v) concentration to make the ice cream smoother and easier to handle, as well as increasing its resistance to melting.[4] Adding this substance prevents milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together in chains and nets, which hold air in the mixture, and provide a firmer texture that holds its shape as the ice cream melts.

Health and beauty use[edit]

Polysorbate 80 is also used as a surfactant in soaps and cosmetics (including eyedrops), or a solubilizer such as in a mouthwash. The cosmetic grade of polysorbate 80 may have more impurities than the food grade.[5]

Medical use[edit]

Polysorbate 80 is an excipient that is used to stabilize aqueous formulations of medications for parenteral administration, and used as an emulsifier in the manufacture of the popular antiarrhythmic amiodarone.[6] It is also used as an excipient in some European and Canadian influenza vaccines. [7] Influenza vaccines contain 25 μg of polysorbate 80 per dose.[7] Polysorbate 80 is found in many vaccinces used in the United States.[8] It is also used in the culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Middlebrook 7H9 broth. It is also used as an emulsifier in the estrogen-regulating drug Estrasorb.[9]

Laboratory use[edit]

Some mycobacteria contain a type of lipase (enzyme that breaks up lipid molecules); when these species are added to a mixture of polysorbate 80 and phenol red, they cause the solution to change color, so this is used as a test to identify the phenotype of a strain or isolate.[citation needed]

On RODAC agar plates used in microbiological control, polysorbate 80 counteracts any disinfectants often found on sampled surfaces, thereby allowing the microbes found on these surfaces to grow.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merck Index, 13th Edition, 7664.
  2. ^ Chou DK, Krishnamurthy R, Randolph TW, Carpenter JF, Manning MC (June 2005). "Effects of Tween 20 and Tween 80 on the stability of Albutropin during agitation". J Pharm Sci. 94 (6): 1368–81. doi:10.1002/jps.20365. PMID 15858848.
  3. ^ US PTO TESS Registry Number 2885675
  4. ^ Goff, H. Douglas (1997). "Colloidal aspects of ice cream—A review". International Dairy Journal. 7 (6–7): 363–373. doi:10.1016/S0958-6946(97)00040-X. ISSN 0958-6946.
  5. ^ "What is Polysorbate 80?". The Honest Company Blog. The Honest Company. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  6. ^ Gautier & Bellamy. "Pharmaceutical amiodarone composition for parenteral delivery". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2008-04-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ a b Pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) Influenza Vaccine Quick Reference Guide Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine Winnipeg Regional Health Authority 2009
  8. ^ "Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary" (PDF). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 2018.
  9. ^ http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2003/21371_estrasorb_lbl.pdf