Superabsorbents are a key component of hygiene products like baby diapers or adult incontinence products, ensuring that urine is locked up and kept safely away from the skin, keeping the skin and clothes dry and clean.

Today’s disposable diapers are real high-tech products, which have become even more comfortable, thinner and absorbent over the past years. An important reason behind this development has been innovative superabsorbents like HySorb® and SAVIVA® by BASF.

How superabsorbents work and how they improve our lives

Superabsorbents are humble in appearance: In the shape of an inconspicuous white powder they are mostly hidden in the core of diapers, adult incontinence and hygiene products and therefore generally out of sight. But their effect is impressive. Superabsorbents have the ability to absorb and retain large quantities of liquid even under pressure. Superabsorbents are instrumental in ensuring that diapers do not overflow and that the skin remains dry and healthy.

A superabsorbent experiment - How superabsorbents work

One gram of superabsorbent can absorb up to 500 grams of pure water. As we move from the properties of one single particle to those of a small amount of powder, superabsorbents can easily solidify large volumes of water. Through the use of less powder in the same amount of water, the water, instead of solidifying, is transformed from a free flowing fluid into a thick gel. Depending on the amount of superabsorbent used, the required viscosity can easily be adapted.

The chemistry behind it

Superabsorber is made by combining (polymerizing) single molecules of sodium acrylate* and acrylic acid* to form lang molecular chains. The polymerization is activated by an initiator* and a crosslinker* connects the single mole­cules together to form a polymer network.

The crosslinker ensures that the granules remain insoluble when exposed to moisture, maintaining their absorbent properties and structure.

In the dry polymer granules the functional salt groups along the crosslinked chains are tightly packed together.

Upon contact with aqueous liquid the sodium ions become dissociated generating an osmotic pressure which drives  more liquid into the Superabsorber binding it tightly within.

Development of diapers since 1980

Superabsorbents are the reason why modern diapers are so small, light and comfortable. Before, in the mid-1980s, superabsorbent polymers started being used for diapers, much more material was needed. Baby diapers were thicker; with just under 100 grams they weighed around three times as much as they do these days and could retain significantly less urine. Under pressure, a large part of the liquid was squeezed out. Nowadays, around 13 grams of superabsorbents are sufficient to prevent a diaper from running out and protect the skin from moisture for hours.

Download your information on HySorb®

Superabsorber one pager

Superabsorber one pager

BASF Global Hygiene Portfolio


With HySorb the BASF´s Hygiene business offers a comprehensive portfolio of state-of-the art superabsorbents.

Tanklager der BASF in Ludwigshafen / Tank storage facility at BA

HySorb® biomass balanced

It is the only available high-performance superabsorbent polymer based on renewable raw materials with a sustainability certificate


SAVIVA, the next generation of superabsorbent polymer is based on a pioneering technology plattform, the droplet polymerization 


These days, it is difficult to imagine the world of modern hygiene without superabsorbents. Whether for baby diapers, incontinence or feminine hygiene products, none of them would be complete without the white polymer granules that ensure that the fluid is safely locked away and that skin and clothes remain dry and clean.


Baby Diapers

Every day  around 375,000 babies are born worldwide. Many of them start their new lives wearing comfortable disposable diapers 


Incontinence products

In industrialized nations life expectancy is continously rising and society is aging. This results in many challenges and raises many questions such as: How do we ensure that older people enjoy a good quality of life? This involes dealing with the important issue of incontinence 


Feminine hygiene products

Leading an active life without constraints - day after day: Superabsorbents are the secret behind today's trend towards smaller and thinner sanitary napkins improving woman's wellbeing so he can always feel at her best. 

BASF Global Hygiene Portfolio