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Tween surfactants are efficient across a wide pH range and a safe and sustainable alternative to alkylphenol ethoxylates (also known as APEOs or NPEs).

Tween surfactants are ethoxylated (or polyoxyethylene) derivatives of sorbitan esters. This modification of the esters which are also flagship surfactants in their own right (under the Span™ tradename), increases hydrophilicity, making Tween surfactants generally soluble or dispersible in water and certain high polarity organic liquids. The Tween product range is made up of surfactants derived from a range of fatty acid chain lengths, and degrees of esterification and ethoxylation. This flexibility allows Tween surfactants of various structures and hydrophilic-liphophilic balalances (HLB) to be well suited for oil-in-water emulsification, solubilisation, wetting, and dispersancy.


Backed by formulation support by Croda’s global technical community, the Tween surfactants are tried and true emulsifiers for:

  • Pressure sensitive adhesives
  • Wax emulsions
  • Silicone emulsions
  • Oil-in-water emulsions

For emulsification it is commonly recommended to use a pair of a Tween surfactant of high HLB with a Span surfactant of lower HLB, for optimal efficiency and stability.

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Dispersion with Tween

Many of the Tween surfactants are also excellent for wetting and dispersing solid particles by lowering surface tension of continuous phase and contributing toward steric stabilisation. In fact, Tween is the foundation of a portfolio of functional carrier fluids from Croda which are widely used in the production of high performing liquid colour and additive concentrates for plastics.

Carrier fluids aid in pigment wetting, enable delivery of the masterbatch by peristaltic pump without agitation and avoids screw slipping. Ideally carrier fluids should be compatible with the host polymer and should not impact aesthetics or feel of the moulded plastic articles. Our bio-based carrier fluids offer improved pigment loading and wetting of carbon black, organics and inorganics through their tunable polarity and solubility.

Benefits include:

  • Improved pigment affinity
  • Low volatility
  • Low viscosity options
  • Non-plasticising
  • Miscible with mineral oil to allow dilution, if necessary

Boosting performance of liquid colour concentrates

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Adhesives & sealants product guide 

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Coatings product guide

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Part of Croda’s commitment to Sustainability

As part of our purpose to use Smart science to improve lives™ around two thirds of organic raw materials, including sorbitol and natural fatty alcohols used in Tween surfactants, are sustainably sourced from bio-based feedstocks.

In line with these commitments, Croda offers many of the Tween surfactants in a certified 100% bio-based format, indicated with the ECO designation. These are chemically identical to traditional grades but produced with renewable energy and bio-based ethylene oxide, for a reduction in carbon footprint and d shift away from reliance on petrochemicals. Partially bio-based versions are available as well.

Discover our ECO surfactants


ECO Tween™ 20

ECO Tween™ 20

A 16.7 HLB, POE-(20)-sorbitan monolaurate non-ionic surfactant used as a versatile O/W emulsifier and wetting agent.

ECO Tween™ 21

ECO Tween™ 21

A 13.3 HLB, POE-(4)-sorbitan monolaurate non-ionic surfactant used as a versatile co-emulsifier for either W/O or O/W emulsions, a dispersant, and as a wetting agent.

ECO Tween™ 40

ECO Tween™ 40

A 15.6 HLB, POE-(20)-sorbitan monopalmitate non-ionic surfactant used as a versatile O/W emulsifier, dispersant, wetting agent and solubiliser.

ECO Tween™ 60

ECO Tween™ 60

A 14.9 HLB, POE-(20)-sorbitan monostearate non-ionic surfactatant used as a versatile O/W emulsifier, dispersant, wetting agent, foam stabiliser, and solubilise

ECO Tween™ 80

ECO Tween™ 80

A 15.0 HLB, POE-(20)-sorbitan monooleate non-ionic surfactant for use as a versatile co-emulsifier for either W/O or O/W emulsions, and as wetting agent.

ECO Tween™ 85

ECO Tween™ 85

An 11.0 HLB, easy to handle POE-(20)-sorbitan trioleate non-ionic surfactant for highly efficient emulsification, dispersion, and stabilisation.

Would you like to discuss which Tween surfactants are right for your application?