Sunday, June 28, 2009

Emulsification - phase inversion

I just learned the most interesting thing from Liz at the Dish and I have to share it!

Have you ever considered whether you should pour the water into the oil or the oil into the water when you're making lotions? I usually add the water to the oil because the water phase is always the largest phase. I'm using my larger container for the water phase, so it just makes sense I'll continue the lotion making process in that jug!

So which should it be - oil into water or water into oil? The emulsion - both mechanical and chemical - are going to work in any order, right? No!

When you're making an emulsion, pouring the water into the oil phase forces an inversion, which makes the emulsification more stable!

This is huge! This can make all the difference between a great lotion and a watery, annoying mess! I've been fortunate in that I've had exactly three batches of lotion fail to emulsify, and the reasons were very clear in each case - I didn't heat the water and oil to the same temperatures, I included a very acidic ingredient, and I was using e-wax instead of Polawax - so I've never really researched emulsification much. This, however, changes everything!

I'm out of hand lotion - I know what I'm doing this morning!

For more information on this topic, check out this link at Lotioncrafters!

4 comments:

Jelena said...

Does it work with ANY o/w emulsifier?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I haven't done a lot of reading about this topic - so many interesting things to read, but it's on the research this list - but the article at Lotioncrafters seems to indicate it's a process that isn't dependent on a specific emulsifier (they don't mention one in it). So I guess it doesn't matter which one you're using - if you pour the water into the oil, you're going to get phase inversion...and that's a good thing!

This emulsification inversion is incredibly fascinating to me, and it's a great example of how we need to consider all the various aspects of making our creations - it's not just about the ingredients, but the process!

Nedeia said...

so, pouring the water in the oils is the way to go, isn't it? if I were to do the other way around, I would notice that the oil phase starts to solidify on my beaker as I pour. I'd hate that :)

m. said...

Hi Susan,
I'm new to making lotions and I find your blog ever so helpful! Thank you for sharing all your knowledge with us! :)
Though there is something in this post that bothers me… You say "I usually add the water to the oil because the water phase is always the largest phase. I'm using my larger container for the water phase, so it just makes sense I'll continue the lotion making process in that jug!". I find it contradictory… If your water phase jug is bigger and you continue the lotion making in that jug, it means you had to add the oil to the water phase and not otherwise. Forgive me if I'm wrong (English is not my first language), but if there really is a mistake, it is worth correcting it for other newbies like myself ;)
Best regards!