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06 September 2022

Know your formulations

TECHNICAL | PPC108 September 2022

alex wade

How well do you know your insecticide formulations? Regular contributor Alex Wade helped us put together this handy little formulations guide.

know your formulations

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EC  - Emulsifiable Concentrates

Active ingredients are dissolved in a hydrocarbon solvent. This allows for high loading of active ingredients and creates a milky white emulsion when mixed with water.


  • Easy to produce
  • Easy to handle and mix
  • Low melting point allows for thermal applications.


  • Expensive to transport
  • Have been known to cause phytotoxicity in plants
  • Can be corrosive to metals and plastics.


SC - Suspension Concentrates

A solid phase active ingredient is then dispersed into an aqueous solvent. This reduces the risks presented with other solid phase formulations and increases dosing accuracy as well as suspension time.


  • Very low absorption into surfaces
  • Can be highly residual
  • Absence of dust or flammable components.


  • Requires a solid active material, increased nozzle wear
  • Long term stability issues
  • Can leave visible residues.


WP - Wettable Powders

A solid active ingredient is usually milled into a fine powder and then mixed with dispersal and wetting agents. Although they struggle to remain in suspension they have extremely high active ingredient loads.


  • High loading of active ingredient
  • Very low absorption into surfaces
  • Can be highly residual.


  • Can leave visible residues
  • Powder formulations risk increased operator exposure
  • Can be unstable in suspension.


EW - Oil-in-water Emulsion

Active ingredients are dissolved into an oil and then dispersed into the water using surfactants and emulsifiers. This produces a stable water-based product with predictable droplet size.


  • Safer and easier to use and handle than other formulations
  • Lower solvent load, mostly water-based
  • Produce a reliable droplet spectrum.


  • Limited flexibility with active materials
  • Susceptible to ‘cracking’, separation or inversion
  • Poor residuality on porous surfaces


ME - Micro Emulsions

Similar to the EW formulations however utilising a much higher level of surfactant to reduce droplet size to below 0.1um reducing the active ingredient loading yet dramatically increasing the bioavailability of that active ingredient.


  • Highly stable in suspension and concentrate
  • High bioavailability
  • Perfect droplet spectrum.


  • High surfactant load
  • Very absorbent when used on porous surfaces
  • Low capacity for active ingredient.


CS - Micro Encapsulates

Active ingredients are contained within a polymer shell or within a time-released wax. This allows a delayed release of the active ingredient therefore reducing the levels of environmental degradation.


  • Controlled or delayed release of active ingredient
  • Reduced degradation of active ingredient.


  • Low active ingredient content
  • Complex to formulate and produce.


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