Specialty Ingredients

Specialty Ingredients


The current shift in consumer purchasing habits has been driven by a desire for high quality, nutrient rich products. In particular, consumers are demanding that specialty, efficacious ingredients be formulated into their cosmetics. According to Allied Market Research the global cosmetic market can expect to bring in $429.8 US billion by 2022, translating to a 4.3% compound annual growth rate.

As the cosmetic industry continue to grow, companies increasingly seek out contract manufacturers to help support that growth. In order to do this, cosmetic companies are sourcing, innovating and researching specialty ingredients, but often find themselves requiring assistance with large scale manufacturing. With a thousands of specialty ingredients in demand, contract manufacturer American Custom Drying (ACD) leads the way with over 60 years of experience. Toll manufacturers like ACD help companies transform their specialty ingredients into stable powders with their dedicated Specialty Ingredients’ Dryer.

What are Specialty Ingredients?

Specialty ingredients are defined as those ingredients which are both unique and command a high dollar value. Typically made in small, highly controlled batches, these ingredients can be anything from enzymes, pro and/or prebiotics, oils, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients or nutraceuticals. Some of these ingredients aid in nourishing the skin, for example enzymes and oils, while other may add nutritive value for your skin such as specialty proteins or phytonutrients.

Transforming specialty ingredients into functional, stable and free flowing powders requires rigorous quality control and a highly specialized team that includes chemical engineers and scientists. The function of such a team is to partner with customers and their research teams to understand technical details. This includes a detailed review of the liquid’s physical and chemical parameters (see below), developing inline manufacturing testing of active components, as well as finished product testing in an on-site analytical laboratory.

Some ingredients have special processing requirements such as limiting exposure to heat (both for powders and slurries), shear or fluctuations in pH, restrictions in final particle size and distribution, pre-filtration and use of flow-aides. Certain classes of these ingredients, such as specialty lipids, may even need to be encapsulated on a hydrocolloids or other carrier in order to transform them to stable, powdered ingredients.

Overview of Spray Drying

By definition spray drying is the process by which a liquid or slurry is converted into a powder by evaporating the water with hot gas or air; this is the preferred method for drying heat-sensitive materials, as well as many specialty ingredients. When transforming liquids into powders, there are a myriad slurry attributes that must be considered. Seven of these critical factors are:

1. Rheological Properties : Viscosity is a good first order consideration. Another would be whether it is a non-Newtonian fluid, such as a shear-thinning or shear-thickening fluid. These will impact the batch process, atomization, as well as cleanup.

2. Percent Solids in Liquid (%S) : As long as the rheological properties are acceptable, %S will be of importance regarding production throughput. The higher the %S, the less water evaporation and the higher the production rate may be. It would also be important to ensure that the spray dryer’s evaporation capacity isn’t being exceeded and typically occurs during line trials.

3. Specific Gravity : This is important when looking at throughput. Throughput is measured in units of volume per time, and is important in production rate calculations to convert into mass production rate. Estimates can be made for throughput of a dryer based on the nozzle selection, atomization method, and feed pressure.

4. Heat Sensitivity : Spray drying is a great option for heat sensitive materials, but it depends upon the type of heat sensitivity. If batch liquid cannot be heated to achieve a proper viscosity, or if the batch liquid needs to be refrigerated until it can be processed, this may limit capacity for spray drying.

5. Chemical Properties : Chemical properties of the batch liquid should be considered. Products at high and low pH are corrosive and can damage equipment if not properly handled. Products may be flammable or have a high kst (explosion factor) or low MIE (minimum ignition energy), posing safety hazards that must be considered. Products that are abrasive will damage pumps and, down the line, piping and other points of contact. Products that are hygroscopic may present with additional drying barriers to overcome. Thermoplastic materials will have a lower glass transition temperature, thus posing challenges with conveying and buildup.

6. Suspension/Emulsion Stability : Many products are an emulsion of some form or another. It may also be a suspension or colloid. How stable these liquids are (how well they remain homogenous and well dispersed) will have a great impact on how well they can be spray dried. Excessive settling out for suspensions will produce uneven flow, plugging of nozzles, and negatively impact the final product’s characteristics. Emulsion coalescence also poses challenges.

7. Foaming Capacity : If a product foams considerably when agitated, this must be taken into consideration and properly handled. It is important that foaming be controlled as it can cause overflow and waste; it can also cause possible issues with flow through the nozzle.

Specialty Ingredients’ Dryer

American Custom Drying has a dedicated spray dryer for specialty ingredients that runs 24/7. The dryer has a water evaporation capacity of 200 pounds per hour and only requires 50 gallons (minimum) of materials for a line trial. The dryer primarily uses high pressure atomization and can adjust atomization nozzles, optimizing quality, consistency and production rate. The Specialty Ingredients’ Dryer is equipped with features that benefit customers and the environment which includes a dehumidifier, a heat recovery unit, a fluid bed at the bottom of the drying chamber, a baghouse and a clean in place (CIP) system.


Many cosmetic specialty products are temperature sensitive. A built-in dehumidifier allows for processing at lower temperatures throughout the year; this eliminates the need for harsh drying temperatures that compensate for increased humidity during winter and summer months. This means that customers receive a consistent quality product year-round, all the time.

Heat Recovery Unit:

Responsible use of energy was built into this dryer, working towards an energy efficient and sustainable future. The heat recovery unit allows heat from the exhaust air to heat the inlet air before going into the burner. This reduces gas usage and decreases the carbon footprint by preheating the inlet air.

Fluid Bed:

This dryer is also equipped with an integrated static fluid bed. The fluid bed is used to convey powder and as a secondary drying step. This provides for better product moisture control at lower temperatures for heat sensitive materials. It helps to create a uniform, efficient drying environment and is the industry gold standard.

Dual Baghouse System: 

A baghouse eliminates the need for more traditional product reclaiming methods. In traditional methods (i.e. wet scrubbing) powders are rewetted and either fed back through to be dried and go to waste. This rewetting can cause yield loss, lower product quality and even product contamination. By using a dual baghouse, superior quality product is retained with higher yield and no product contamination risk occurs from rewetting.

Clean In Place System (CIP):

The Specialty Ingredients’ Dryer is equipped with a CIP system that uses spray ball assembly in each portion of the dryer. This type of system allows for a more efficient clean up after product runs, and quick changeover during multiple product runs. Ultimately, this saves customers from lengthy, time consuming clean up and changeover procedures. Furthermore, it also helps to ensure that there is no cross contamination between two different products, guaranteeing pure high quality product.

The Importance of Quality

Processing Specialty Ingredients requires strict attention to detail and rigorous quality control standards. The Specialty Ingredients’ Dryer is certified SQF 2000 Level 2, which is recognized worldwide. With certified SQF practitioners always on site, ACD’s consistent efforts meet yearly ISO 9001:2008 re-certification as well as maintain compliance with 9CFR417 and 21CFR110.

As contract manufacturing becomes more in demand, it uniquely positions ACD to be the best choice for companies seeking to manufacture their specialty ingredients. Offering flexible 24/7 scheduling, a dedicated dryer for Specialty Ingredients and their scientific team, ACD helps companies bring their specialty products to fruition from baseline evaluation, line trial to commercialization.