Monday, July 13, 2009

Packaging: Filling bottles!

Filling containers can be such a huge pain in the bum! Here are a few things I thought I'd share.

Since I am a surfactant junkie, I make a lot of bubble baths, body washes, and shampoos that need bottling. I find the easiest way is to get a funnel and pour it in. With a tottle or malibu bottle, I put the bottle into a Pyrex container and then pour it into the funnel. This keeps at least one hand free to clean up messes or get another bottle ready. (I try to have quite a few ready at a given time because once that funnel's full, I gotta move on very quickly!)

I find the bane of my existence is filling lotion containers. I always wait until the lotion has cooled completely before filling the bottles, and it's always a huge mess. I've taken to using piping bags - I have disposable and canvas ones - and I find these work well. I did try to use the cut-a-hole-in-a-sandwich-bag method, but I found I made a huge mess. (But then again, I am a very messy person, so it's not a surprise!)

Again, line up the containers so you're ready, fill your piping bag, and go down the line. I usually fill them up about 3/4, then bang on the table to get the air out, then top it off. This is the annoying part - just as I think I've got a full container, I find another air bubble and have to top it off again!

(If you're selling your products, you might have to weigh them before you cap them off. As I'm just giving mine away or keeping it for myself, I'm not that picky about bubbles or weights!)

I like filling's so easy! Scoop, bang on the table, and cap.

If you have any suggestions, please comment! There are so many ways to fill bottles poorly, any ideas for doing it well are always welcome!


Esmée said...

I use a (sterile, not that I'm selling but just want to be sure...) syringe. 60 ml with large tip.
And I'm a messy person too....

Rebecca said...

I actually just pour straight from my pyrex cup into the containers. I find that the spout on the pyrex is accurate enough in not leaving a big ol' mess of lotion!

Are there any advantages to filling bottles while it's still warm, versus cooled down? I've always poured my lotions and creams while they were almost cool (but still liquid), and since one of my lotions is whipped with air/souffle, it sets up nicely without ruining the texture.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Esmee: I have used a turkey baster type syringe (meaning a big one) for things like toners and other very liquidy things. I forgot about that option!

Rebecca: Pouring from a Pyrex cup is fine if you have some kind of co-ordination and aren't incredibly messy. I can do this with surfactants some of the time, but when I'm using a malibu, I can't hold the Pyrex jug and the container at the same time without leaving bubble bath all over the workshop.

I like to pour my body souffle into the jar as soon as possible (lower than 45C, after the preservative and fragrance phase) - and leave it uncapped, of course - because I like the texture. As for lotions, it's best to pour them after they've cooled down to avoid evaporation. If you pour the lotions too warm - and especially if you cap them too warm - you can end up with condensation in the cap, which can lead to mould and other nasty things (there's no preservative in the condensation).

It sounds like we're using about the same temperature - liquid, but cooled! But sometimes I get side tracked by life or shiny things, and the lotions cool down until they are the normal viscosity, and that's where the piping bag comes in hand.

Thanks for the comments!

Esmée said...

Thanks! I didn't know about the condensation that it is not preserved. Not that I pour it that warm, but just eager to know. :D

Anonymous said...

A good tip that I found works well. You know those pastic cups that they give kids to drink out of at restaurants? I dump the juice out of those, take them home, sterilize them and pour my lotion in those. Since it's flimsy pastic, I pinch the opening of the cup do it caves in, and pour drectly into my bottle. Absolutey NO messes or spills.

Maxine said...

I love your blog Susan! Thank you for all the fabulous information here :)

I just have a quick question about bottling. I usually wait about 24hours after I make a lotion before bottling it (I use the freezer bag method), and then I usually wait another day or two to cap it. But even after waiting this long I sometimes end up with condensation in the top of my bottles.
Should I just be waiting longer to cap it, or should I cap it immediately?
(And yes I know this post is over a year old :-) )

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Maxine! Comment on any blog post you want - I don't mind how old it is, because every comment adds to our knowledge base! (And it's nice to have all the ideas in once place!)

As I mentioned above, the water in the cap won't contain preservative, so when it cools down it'll go back into the lotion and could sit on top of it rather than emulsifying. I sometimes wait a few days, although that tends to be more about being lazy or having too many things to do to get back into the workshop than about waiting so I don't get condensation. My suggestion is to wait as long as you can so you don't get condensation - it's not a nice thing!

Maxine said...

Thanks Susan!

Cynthia Scott said...

I'm frantic!!! And here I said I was sending you too many comments so will give you a break!!! I'm sooo sorry but I consider this a mini-emergency!!

The lotion that I made that turned out so well?? I'm glad I put it in a clear bottle as I can see some condensation on the inside of the bottle!!! While it is VERY warm where I live (over 110f everyday this week, that's 44c, I keep my house at about 27c during the day and in the morning it gets down to 22 or so), I had made the lotion VERY early in the morning and did bring to room temp and I piped it into the bottle (and still made a mess! Lol. )

I have kept it capped and have only used it a handful of times. It doesn't appear to be separating but perhaps it's too soon to tell, made it a week ago?! Anyway there is condensation inside the bottle!!! thank goodness clear bottle!! My promise of a face lotion in a few weeks is very quickly becoming a true impossibility!!! So I guess according to this blog post my beautiful lotion is no longer useable!! Now I know what that lady meant by having to call them EPIC lotion fails as I feel crushed!!

I in fact did use optiphen!!! Ahhhh more money?!?! Omg not sure I have enough left even for food after what I already spent!! No joke!! I'm almost ready to give up after what happened with you personally, the ridiculous amount of money and now this disaster!! (I don't mean stop making lotions but even trying to send her something in what? I have a week or so left!!). What an enormous idiot I made out of myself!! (Something apparently I'm good at based on what happened here!!)

So would optiphen do this even without apparent separation? And I guess that does mean I have to buy something else???!! Or could there be another reason? I didn't see anything else on the blog about water seeping , only oil. Course your blog is enormous and obviously I did not read every single post!! Just looked up all the ones in seepage, (water seepage produced very little) and condensation. Read all of them including comments!! Ahhhh!!!

Ok calm down Cynthia!! Ok so I put in the optiphen at room temp and mixed well. Otherwise I already gave you recipe and process. I can rewrite it out for you if you'd like. If that helps at all.

Ya know it's going to take a good deal of time to get a response so I guess my being all harried is not a help here!! And I guess it would just be plain unsafe to send her a lotion, especially at the temps in S California! Oh well. I guess I am giving up on that. Maybe she'll get one for the holidays lol!! I guess I've answered my own question here.

Ok now that I'm formally going to tell her sorry no can do I will indeed leave you be for a while. Shoot!! Not even sure I should send this. Well maybe you'd like to know the end of the story since I involved you in every step seems. Epic promise fail!!!

Thank you so much for everything. I feel like I know you personally!!

Perhaps I will go do something else for a while lol. Nah gotta use those ingredients and I guess I will buy another preservative!! Shoot!!

Have a good week!! I really will not write again for a while now that you know all that went down.



Anonymous said...

How do I keep my bottles from exploding once I've filled them. I waited till they cooled down...but I open them and boom. It's everywhere! Help me please...I know I'm super late to the party