Silicone Softeners And How To Use Them


Regarding their softness which they provide in textiles, chemical softeners are extensively used. Becoming soft can be considered as an optional completion and is usually employed when textiles require an improvement in their softness. One must choose an appropriate type of softener after considering the mixture with other materials and desired properties. Generally, when it comes to softness and nature, cationic and silicone softeners are the top rank choices. Polyethylene softeners are competing with Silicones in improvement of textiles’ sewing-related characteristics. Anion and amphitricha softeners are distinctive among other products due to their humid-friendly features. Therefore, choosing an appropriate mixture of various types of softeners is extremely vital. (Figure No. 1)


انواع نرمکن و نحوه مصرف آن ها

The covering extent of a softener when finally touching a textile plays a vital role in purchasing the product by the consumer. Therefore, one can observe many developments in softeners. Nowadays, we can see new complementary formula by considering the utilization and simultaneously employment of softeners with other auxiliary materials; hence we can see improvements in demands for softeners’ numerous properties and their quality. Softeners also deal with different challenges in the process of textiles’ finishing, and numerous researches have been conducted for advancement of the final operation.

Softening Mechanisms

Softeners have their major impacts on the surface of fibers. Additionally, softener’s tiny molecules penetrate fibers, and by a decrease in the Glass Transition Temperature (Tg) of polymers which form fibers, such process leads to the textiles’ more flexibilities and softness. The softeners’ physical configuration of molecules on the surface of fibers is important, and depends on the molecule’s ionic nature in softener and proportional hydrophobic of fibers’ surfaces.

Cationic softeners direct their positive charge ends towards the fiber with partial negative charge (Zeta potential), hence form a new level of hydrophobic carbon chains, and finally provide a well-mannered softening and lubrication in all produced cationic softeners.

On the other hand, anionic softeners take away the negative end of the negative load from the surface of the fiber, that ends up in higher hydrophilicity, however less softening than cationic softeners. The orientation of nonionic softeners conjointly depends on the character of the fiber surface, so the hydrophilic section of the softener is absorbed to the hydrophilic surfaces and therefore the hydrophobic section to the hydrophobic surfaces. (Figure No. 3)

مکانیسم های اثر نرم کنندگی در نرمکن ها

In the next classification, based on the durability of the softening properties, it’s classified into two categories of permanent and temporary softeners. The foremost wide used classification these days is predicated anionic nature and softeners’ polarity include anionic, cation, nonionic, amphoteric, pseudo -ion and silicon softeners. a quick summary of softening factors based on ion nature is given within the following table, however we are going to discuss silicone softeners as the most common.

Silicone softeners
Silicone softeners

Silicone softeners

Silicone softeners are a mixture of organic polysiloxane and polymer that are appropriate for enhancing softness in organic fibers equivalent to cotton, wool, silk and hemp. Auxiliary materials are widely accustomed to complete textiles with silicone bases in completing the cloth. These varieties of softeners can even be used not only on cellulose fabrics, but also for a range of polyester, nylon and alternative artificial fibers.

Different derivatives of silicones with multipurpose properties play a crucial role within the softening processes. Amino silicones are the most widespread as a result of they produce a delicate category for textiles. However, the finished cloth becomes yellow once exposed to high temperatures. The yellowing because of heat in aminocelicones depends heavily on the structure of the amino lateral chains, temperature and preparation time. This drawback became important in the middle -1980s, when specialists magnified baking temperatures throughout a wrinkle -resistant coating to attenuate the remaining formaldehyde. Variety of other structures were evaluated and presented to minimize or prevent yellowing.

Recently, the use of multifunctional silicone softeners, particularly amino polysiloxanes (generally in the variety of Micro emulsion) has become common. These softeners help improve material subordinates, sewing effects and alternative optimum qualities.

With the use of silicone softener for the textile industry, organic silicone is widely used as the main element of the completion process and it is combined by mechanical completion technique to enhance fabric (cellulose and silk). Silicone softeners improve the fiber properties by enhancing the luminosity, elasticity (flexibility) and sewing effect. Different types of silicone complementary materials produce different degrees of softness and subtlety. Silicone products give the best flexibility due to the formation of a film layer on the surface of the fiber, except for silky fabric; amino modified silicone completing supplements are ideally used.

Silicones are classified as a separate class of artificial softeners, mainly are a polymer like alkyl siloxane and are provided as water emulsions through spreading silicone oils in water using appropriate emulsifiers.

They have wonderful properties including high stability against chemicals, heat, microorganisms, low surface tension, freedom of rotation, glass transfer temperature on top of 200°C, low failure factor, good flexibility, environmental compatibility and many more..

The surface of the materials completed with silicone is principally none polar and hydrophobic and are used to reinforce the consequences of water excretion. The quantity of textiles dehydration depends on the silicone chain length. Silicone based softeners are developed as poly R2SIO, within which totally different substitutes are connected to silicone. The foremost common silicone base softeners are shown below.

انواع نرمکن و نحوه مصرف آن ها

The first silicone softeners are Di-methyl-polysiloxanes which are none-reactive, much less stable and are specifically used in artificial fibers. Over the years, silicone softeners had been modified with numerous chemical substances to gain the favored properties with softness. For example, Di-methyl-polysiloxanes had been corrected using methyl hydrogen siloxane, silanol, or ester agents. In addition, the amino mercapto and epoxy groups which can be capable of reacting to fibers are used to modify the Di-methyl-polysiloxanes to provide active silicone softeners. Therefore, softeners of this kind containing reactive groups can efficiently react with natural fibers including cellulose fabrics. Silicone base softeners have additionally been changed with amino ethyl or propyl groups, leading to great softness. In addition, silicone softeners typically create long lasting softness, along side enhancing wrinkle resistance; and this crucial function is because of the capacity of silicone polymer to shape the elastic fiber of the grid that falls into the matrix to the fibers, be able to retrieve primary shape after deformation.

Despite the excellent softness of silicone softeners, this group might cause yellowing because of bake. In regard to this, modified polysiloxanes with primary amines showed a rise in thermal yellowing because of the oxidative decomposition of amino groups and the formation of chromophore groups, whereas this operate is insignificant for polysiloxanes containing third amines.

In addition, it’s been reported that they also increase the tendency to fill the fabric when the softening is over. Because of the desirable softness that silicone softeners create, the researchers have made great efforts to eliminate their limitations. For this purpose, hydrophilic silicones have been introduced to produce softness and comfort, which can be included of organosilicon polymers with variety of active epoxy groups and polyoxy alkylene groups, Celacied polymers obtained from the reaction of organic polymer acids, hydrophilic organosilicon and many more.

Acyl Silicon groups carrying amino groups with proper hydration and no yellowing, organopoly siloxanes containing carboxyl groups which have excellent softening with a little yellowishness, and modified epoxy alkyl silicone compounds with the baking ability in environmental situations can be known as the silicone based superior softeners.

The summary of this phase and the functions of silicones are supplied within the following PowerPoint.

ماکرو امولسیون ها ازانواع نرمکن

(Figure No. 2)

  • Toxic Macro emulsions and micro emulsions

The size of the particles between 100 nm and 400 nm and less than 100 nm is known as nano-emulsions. They have outstanding thermodynamic balance in the certain boundary conditions of concentration, pressure and temperature.

These emulsions (toxic macro and micro emulsion) have a transparent and semi-transparent appearance and can effortlessly penetrate into the fibers. Finally, they deliver a unique softness and softness.

Silicone Softener Products

Types of silicone emulsion

The emulsions are the dispersal of one liquid in another liquid that isn’t combinable and are lightly divided into separate phases if combined. One of the liquid phases is water and the alternative is the water-insoluble organic liquid, which is usually oil. Emulsion is the macro or micro dispersal of liquid in any other liquid, which is generally oil in water or water in oil.

Emulsion technology entails the creation of emulsion, through using droplets stabilizing elements such as surfactants. Therefore, in many practical applications, upkeep and balance of emulsions rely on the purpose of use and shape of the emulsion and formulation kind which is variable from one month to twelve months.

Depending on the size of the particles, there are three kinds of polysiloxane modified silicone softeners available in the market, which are macro, micro and nano emulsions. Creating a soft touch depends not only on the chemical properties of the emulsion, but also on their function in the textiles. If the softener is especially connected to the outer part of the fiber, that is the number one impact of the chemical compounds which might be felt. However, if the softener can penetrate the yarn between the single fibers, a secondary impact is achieved, called ‘inner softness’ created through decreasing friction.

Silicone softeners are used in the textile industry in the shape of water dispersion or emulsion. The kind of connection formed depends on a physical property, that is, the scale of the active ingredients. Classification of silicone emulsion based on the sort of emulsion is described as followed:

  • Macro emulsions

The most common kind of emulsion of droplets is 0.3 to 1.0 microns, they are milky or white, and every emulsion droplet may be effortlessly observed under the microscope. Macro emulsions are thermodynamically unstable and have a shorter storage lifetime than other emulsions. Due to the sort of their structure and size of the bigger emulsion, this class is much less penetrated into the fibers and positioned on the surface. By developing a silicone film on the surface of the fiber, they offer a soft and really pleasant surface with soft, bulky and silky touch for the product.


Dr. Charles Tomasino, in Chemistry & Technology of Fabric Preparation & Finishing, 1992

Alaa Arafa Badr, PhD, in Performance of Knitted Fabrics Finished With Different Silicone Softeners, 2018

  1. SOMASUNDARAN1=*, P. PUROHIT1, N. GOKARN2, RAVI D. KULKARNI2, in Silicone emulsions Interfacial aspects and applications, 2010

A.K. Roy Choudhury , B. Chatterjee , S. Saha a & K. Shaw, in Comparison of performances of macro, micro and nano silicone softener, 2012

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