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Polysorbate 80

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Polysorbate 80[1]
A vial containing Polysorbate 80
IUPAC name
Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate
Other names
  • Kolliphor PS 80
  • Montanox 80
  • Alkest TW 80
  • Tween 80
  • PS 80
  • Kotilen-80
  • none
ECHA InfoCard 100.105.529 Edit this at Wikidata
E number E433 (thickeners, ...)
RTECS number
  • WG2932500
Molar mass 1310 g/mol
Appearance Amber colored oil
Density 1.102 g/mL
Boiling point > 100°C
100 mL/L[2]
Solubility in other solvents soluble in ethanol, cottonseed oil, corn oil, ethyl acetate, methanol, toluene
Viscosity 300–500 centistokes (@25°C)
Occupational safety and health (OHS/OSH):
Main hazards
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NFPA 704 four-colored diamondHealth 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g. turpentineFlammability 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g. canola oilInstability 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no code
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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Polysorbate 80 is a nonionic surfactant and emulsifier often used in pharmaceuticals, 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 (80) 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.[3]

Other names[edit]

E number: E433

Brand names:

  • Kolliphor PS 80[4] - Kolliphor is a registered trademark of BASF
  • 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.[5]
  • Kotilen-80 - Kotilen is a registered trademark of Kolb AG



Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in foods, though research[6] suggests it may "profoundly impact intestinal microbiota in a manner that promotes gut inflammation and associated disease states."

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.[7] Adding this substance prevents milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join 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[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.[8]


Polysorbate 80 is a surfactant and solubilizer used in a variety of oral and topical pharmaceutical products.

Polysorbate 80 is also an excipient that is used to stabilize aqueous formulations of medications for parenteral administration, and used as an emulsifier in the making of the antiarrhythmic amiodarone.[9] It is also used as an excipient in some European and Canadian influenza vaccines.[10] Influenza vaccines contain 2.5 μg of polysorbate 80 per dose.[10] Polysorbate 80 is found in many vaccines used in the United States,[11] including the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.[12] It is used in the culture of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Middlebrook 7H9 broth. It is also used as an emulsifier in the estrogen-regulating drug Estrasorb.[13]

Polysorbate 80 is also used in granulation for stabilization of drugs and excipients when IPA binding.[citation needed]


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 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. ^ https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/content/dam/sigma-aldrich/docs/Sigma/Product_Information_Sheet/1/p8466pis.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Polysorbates and Sorbitan Esters for Pharmaceutical Applications". BASF Pharma. Retrieved 2022-06-10.
  5. ^ "Trademark Status & Document Retrieval". tsdr.uspto.gov.
  6. ^ Naimi, S., Viennois, E., Gewirtz, A.T., Benoit Chassaing (2021). "Direct impact of commonly used dietary emulsifiers on human gut microbiota". Microbiome. 9 (1): 66. doi:10.1186/s40168-020-00996-6. PMC 7986288. PMID 33752754.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "What is Polysorbate 80?". The Honest Company Blog. The Honest Company. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  9. ^ Gautier & Bellamy. "Pharmaceutical amiodarone composition for parenteral delivery". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  10. ^ a b Pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) Influenza Vaccine Quick Reference Guide Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine Winnipeg Regional Health Authority 2009
  11. ^ "Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary" (PDF). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 2018.
  12. ^ "Janssen Standing Orders for Covid-19" (PDF).
  13. ^ http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2003/21371_estrasorb_lbl.pdf [bare URL PDF]