Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sesame oil!

Sesame oil (not the roasted kind you'd used in cooking!) is another oil high in linoleic acid (about 40%), with almost equal amounts of oleic acid (45.4%), with some palmitic (9.1%), stearic (4.3%), and arachidic (0.8%) fatty acids thrown in for good measure. It's incredibly high in phytosterols - 865 mg per 100 grams - which means it is great for combatting weather damaged skin, reducing inflammation, and softening skin.

We'll be taking a look a oleic acid tomorrow, but as it does resemble some of the fatty acids found in human sebum, it offers great moisture regulation and possible skin regenerative properties. It is fantastic for apres sun applications, and softening.

Sesame oil contains a polyphenol called a lignan, which is the structural backbone for most anti-oxidants. These exhibit anti-inflammatoryand antiseptic effects (but don't use it as a preservative!) It is showing great promise in regulating sebum production and may help with acne prone skin.

Sesame oil has an interesting feature - it won't stain clothes or sheets - so it's a fantastic massage oil or post shower-before dressing kind of moisturizer. It's a light to medium weight oil with low comedogenicity, so it is suitable for facial or body moisturizers. And because it's well balanced between the linoleic acid and the oleic acid, it offers features of both oils! It should have a shelf life of 9 to 12 months because of the fewer double bonds found in the oleic acid, but it can vary by supplier. And remember to always add some Vitamin E to your mix to stave off rancidity!

For a massage oil, consider using a mix of sesame seed oil and fractionated coconut oil (or another very light, non-staining oil) to give you some serious slip. Add a little Vitamin E and a fragrance or essential oil, and you've got a nice massage oil for those sore muscles!

50% sesame oil
48% fractionated coconut oil
1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance oil or essential oil (at safe usage rates)

Mix together, then pour into a bottle that will be easy to use while offering a massage!

66% sesame oil
32% IPM (optional - substitute with more sesame oil or fractionated coconut oil)
1% Vitamin E
1% fragrance or essential oil

Mix your oils together, then pour into a spray bottle for apres bath or shower use. I've included the IPM to make this feel less greasy. Again, you can mix this with any oils you want, but fractionated coconut oil is the best choice because you'll want something that won't stain clothing or sheets.

Join me tomorrow for fun with oleic acid!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Formulating with soy bean oil

You can use soy bean oil anywhere you'd use a light weight oil - in a lotion, lotion bar, hair care product - but I really like to use it in scrubs. The high levels of Vitamin E make it great in a softening lotion, and I'm always looking for anti-inflammatory oils to help with my annoyingly red skin! (It's a great oil for the beard conditioner with a longer shelf life than sunflower oil!)

Try using soy bean oil in a solid body scrub or a solid foot scrub (although I admit I like a heavier oil in my foot scrub bars, soy bean is a great choice here!) Or try it in an oil based scrub in combination with a heavier oil like olive oil, which contains a natural humectant (which you know I love!) Or mix it with equal parts polysorbate 80 and make yourself a foaming facial cleanser with soy bean oil - it'll have Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory effects on your skin!

I'm a big fan of the emulsified sugar scrub - it's like an oil based one, only we put emulsifiers in it so when you rinse it off, it turns into lotion. If you've never used one, I say try it! A light oil filled with linoleic acid like soy bean oil is a great choice for an emulsified scrub. You don't want something that feels really heavy when you rinse it off, and you want something inexpensive because we'll be using a ton of oils in it!

Why are we adding a preservative like Phenonip to this scrub? Although it's anhydrous - meaning it doesn't contain water - anyone using it is going to be adding water to it in the form of wet hands during a shower or bath. (Which is why we always consider the end use of the product when formulating!) I'll be using it at the maximum suggested usage of 1%.

Finally, there are many interesting ingredients you can use in a scrub. Different exfoliants are going to offer different benefits - salt, sugar, loofah, those little jojoba beads, clay beads, finely ground pumice, and so on - so, as with any recipe I post, tweak away to find the exfoliant you like best. We have tried jojoba beads in this recipe for a body scrub - not nearly as nice as the sugar. I'd save those for a facial scrub, but that's just my preference. And I've tried loofah - not scrubby enough for my tastes, but again see what you like.

10% emulsifying wax (e-wax, Polawax, or BTMS)
10% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid (5% cetyl and 5% stearic is very nice)
10% cocoa butter (or other really hard butter)
10% shea or mango butter (or quite soft butter - shea aloe would be great here)
56% oil - I'm using soy bean oil here
1% Vitamin E
2% fragrance or essential oil*
1% Phenonip

If you want to use this for a body scrub, start with 100 grams of sugar per 100 grams of sugar scrub. You can increase it as high as 200 grams for 100 grams of sugar scrub - it depends upon your taste (I like it really scrubby, so I go for 200 grams per 100 grams of sugar scrub.) If you are using another exfoliant, you'll really have to play with it to see what you like.

*Note: We're using 2% fragrance oil because we're actually making 200 grams of product by adding the sugar, so the increased fragrance amount will actually make the product smell nice. If you're using essential oils, check your safe usage levels before adding to the scrub.*

Weigh all ingredients except the fragrance or essential oil in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler. Heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70C. Remove from the double boiler and put into your fridge or freezer until it reaches 45C. Add the fragrance oil, then return it to the fridge or freezer to cool further.

When the mixture starts to harden slightly on the sides of the container and gets a thick film on the top, remove it from the fridge or freezer and start whipping it with a hand mixer with whisk attachments or your Kitchenaid with whisk attachments. Whisk until it looks like vanilla pudding - this might take a little while - then add the sugar and whisk until well incorporated. Pour into jars and let sit until hardened.

As a note, some people whip this in a Kitchenaid for hours to make it extra fluffy. I'm an impatient woman so I don't do that. But if you have a Kitchenaid mixer, try it with the whisk attachment to see how fluffy you can get it.

Join me tomorrow for fun with sesame oil!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soy bean oil!

Soy bean oil is filled with all kinds of wonderful stuff, and with one of the lowest prices for all the carrier oils, one that should find its way into your creations! I remember LabRat calling this the "Rodney Dangerfield of oils" because it has so many great qualities, yet it still gets no respect!

Soy bean is another oil with a ton of linoleic acid (C18:2, 53%), some oleic acid (C18:1, 29%), palmitic acid (9.8%), and linolenic acid (C18:3, 8%). The three fatty acids with double bonds are going to cause some problems with your shelf life, but soy bean oil contains about 700 mg/kg of tocopherols, so there are some natural anti-oxidants built in - and the Vitamin E is going to help with skin softening and moisturization.

What takes soy bean oil from good to awesome? It contains about 6.3% omega-3 fatty acids and 51% omega-6 fatty acids, both of which have great benefits for your skin. And it contains high levels of phytosterols (327 mg per 100 grams of oil - the highest of our carrier oils!) and isoflavones!

The phytosterols in soy bean oil help soothe wind chapped, sun burned, itchy or inflamed skin, so this is an ideal inclusion in a lotion or bath oil. Soy phytosterols can soften hair and lessen the electrostatic charge that can lead to "fly away" hair (does anyone have that problem any more? I never see it advertised as a feature in hair care products!)

The isoflavones in soy bean oil - genistein and daidzein - can behave as phytoestrogens when ingested; there is no evidence to show they behave this way on your skin. In soy bean oil, they behave as anti-oxidants that protect against peroxidative damage, which can cause rancidity.

Soy bean oil is a light weight oil with medium comedogenicity. It's easily absorbable, and can be anti-inflammatory. It has a shelf life of about 6 months to a year, so you'll want to add a little more Vitamin E and some chelating ingredients to your lotion to extend that life span!

Personally, I love soy bean oil in pretty much everything. I use it in hand and body lotions, and I use it as the oil binder in my bath bombs (link to my bath bomb recipe here and here, and link to bath cupcake recipe here). Because it is a light weight oil, try substituting it for another light weight oil you love - sunflower, safflower, sweet almond, or apricot kernel oil - in your favourite recipe. It is a great, longer shelf life oil you can substitute instead of hemp seed oil! With a similar fatty acid profile (hemp seed has less oleic acid) and similar benefits for skin, you can create a lovely lotion with a much longer shelf life for far less money.

Join me tomorrow for formulating with soy bean oil!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Polyphenols are found in our oils in three major ways - flavonoids, lignans, and tannins. They are the structural backbone for most anti-oxidants found in plants, and we can use them in our creations to offer some awesome benefits. Polyphenols show up in most of the botanically based ingredients we use in lotion making - hydrosols, essential oils, carrier oils, butters, and so on - and they're what make essential oils essential!

As an aside, polyphenols are found in pretty much every fruit and vegetable out there. We'll take a look at various polyphenols in depth in the oil or extract specific posts.

There are over 4,000 identified flavonoids - you may see them as flavenols, flavones, isoflavones - and I'm not going into all of them on this blog! The ones containing ketones, like flavonoids and flavonals, are potent anti-oxidants with anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial benefits for your skin, and work as anti-oxidants for the purposes of preventing rancidity.

Flavonoids behave as anti-oxidants on our skin and in our bodies by scavenging the free radicals produced at our cell membranes. It is thought (meaning there aren't enough studies or nothing conclusive) the flavonoids offer anti-inflammatory benefits by inhibiting pro-inflammation mediators in our bodies, such as prostaglandins.

Catechins (a type of flavonoid) found in tea and chocolate can offer anti-biotic properties in our products as they disrupt a stage of bacterial DNA replication. This isn't to say you can use tea or chocolate (or extracts like cocoa butter or green tea butter) as a preservative for your lotions, but that's a nice thing in a lotion! A type of catechin found in green tea is being investigated for its role in preventing UV related skin damage.

Lignans behave as anti-oxidants and phytoestrogens in our body. We find the lignans in flax seed (0.3 grams per 100 grams), sesame seed (29 mg per 100 grams), pumpkin, and soy bean oil. The lignan sesamine found in sesame oil has been shown to be immuno-suppressive in lab tests, but not on humans.

As a note, isoflavones, like those found in soy bean products, can behave as phyto-estrogens as well. Neither the lignan nor the isoflavone phyto-estrogens behave this way when applied to skin - they have to be ingested to get that effect. (But who knows what science will discover next? Perhaps we're not applying them in high amounts?)

Tannins are water soluble phenolic compounds found in grapes, tea, and other botanical ingredients. They tend to be very astringent and produce "dry" oils like grapeseed, hazelnut, and camellia oil. (An astringent is defined as a substance that contracts the pores and tissues and makes them smaller). Witch hazel and green tea extract contain high levels of tannins, hence their notoriety for astringency.

The various polyphenols we use in skin care products are only just now being investigated in any great depth - this is why you're seeing the ingredient of the month touted by all the big companies and being good for x or wonderful for y! Polyphenols found in olive oil have been studied extensively, and they have been shown to help repair sun damaged skin. And studies coming out now about sea buckthorn oil show it may also have regenerative properties.

Polyphenols tend to lend a bitter taste to their fruits and vegetables - and in skin care products, they tend to produce oils that are "drier" than other oils and offer astringency. There tends to be a correlation between the amount of polyphenols and that slippery feeling in a lotion. Oils with high tannin levels - camellia oil, for instance - feel drier on our skin and can be more astringent. As a result, we might not want to use high polyphenolic oils as our primary oils if we want something glidy and slidy.

Join me tomorrow when we resume our posts on the oils - specifically, soy bean oil!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I realized I'm going to be writing a lot about our friends, the phytosterols, in the next few weeks, so I thought I should take a moment and post a little about them...

Phytosterols are plant based sterols like cholesterol that give structure to the plant's cell membrane (the way cholesterol does for our cells). Phytosterols can be converted into Vitamin D and cholecalciferol, both of which have wonderful effects on our skin. You'll find the sterols in the unsaponifiable portion of the oils in fats - the part that won't turn to soap when you add a base to them.

Phytosterols aid in helping our skin's barrier mechanisms recover by penetrating into the skin, rather than occluding the skin, and our body will synthesize some of these phytosterols as it would cholesterol. And it can help cholesterol absorb better when we apply it! As our skin consists of about 25% cholesterol, adding an oil high in phytosterols can go a long way in helping damaged skin recover from the abuses we put it through every day (but don't go claiming you're healing anything!)

Phytosterols can have a huge effect on skin damaged or harmed by environmental influences, such as wind chapping, sun damage, sun burn, and so on. They reduce inflammation and itching. And, of course, they help to moisturize dry skin by reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL). In hair care products, they can offer softening of the hair strand and reduction of electrostatic charges, so no more fly-away hair for you!

Studies done on the phytosterols and polyphenols (more about those tomorrow) in olive oil show they can help repair skin damaged by the sun.

So what does this mean to us as lotion makers? Adding oils high in phytosterols can increase the efficacy of our lotions by preventing TEWL, by helping repair damaged skin, and reduce itching and inflammation (again, remember you can't make these claims without significant testing!). How awesome is that?

Join me tomorrow for fun with flavenoids!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Formulating with a single oil

In this series of posts, you'll notice I'm using only one oil in my creations...I don't generally do this in lotions as I like to have a blend of oils that offer exactly what I want for the weather, skin type, and application.

A light oil will sink in quickly (or at least feel as if it sinks in quickly) and offers immediate softening and a nice feeling on your skin. A medium oil will sink in a little slower and will last longer. The heavier oils will stay on your skin, giving you some occlusion and protection from the outside world. A combination of all three will give you the best of all worlds in a lotion, and I encourage you to formulate your lotions with at least two different oils for maximum awesomeness!

I always think of recipes as templates that can - and should! - be tweaked. I always make something by the pattern or recipe exactly as directed the first time, then I play with it to find the perfect product for my skin type and climate. I think one oil lotions are a good way to find out what you like (or dislike) about each oil and what it feels like in a lotion. Then you can combine them to make something amazingly fantastic!

Have fun playing!

Facial moisturizer with sunflower oil

Facial moisturizers should be light, moisturizing, and slightly occlusive. I like to have a moisturizer that offers anti-inflammatory features because my skin tends to be on the red side. A facial moisturizer containing sunflower oil offers all of those features - although it's not going to have a really long life span. We are going to add some Vitamin E to the mix for the oxidation, and we'll throw in a tiny bit of EDTA (0.1%) to maximize its shelf life. I still wouldn't keep this for more than 6 months, even with all the rancidity prevention stuff.

For further ideas on facial moisturizers, please check out my post on the topic.

As a note, I generally wouldn't use only one oil in a moisturizing lotion or cream as I like to have something light to sink in quickly and something medium or heavy to stay on for a while. But a moisturizer is something we want to sink in quite quickly, so using a light oil combined with various humectants and moisturizers will work well. You can use other oils if you want, but I thought I'd try one with all sunflower oil because of the high linoleic acid content (and because this is kinda my topic today...)


WATER PHASE (if you don't have aloe vera or hydrosol, use 78% water)
48% water
15% aloe vera
15% hydrosol of choice (I'm using lavender hydrosol)
2% glycerin
0.1% EDTA

8% sunflower oil
4% emulsifier - Polawax, e-wax or BTMS
2% thickener - cetyl alcohol for the glide

0.5% to 1% preservative
2% hydrolyzed oat protein
2% panthenol
1% Vitamin E

If you want to include essential oils in here, remove up to 1% from the water phase.

1. Weigh out your water phase in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

2. Weigh out your oil phase in a heat proof container and put into your double boiler.

3. Heat and hold both containers at 70C for 20 minutes. When you have done this, add the water phase to the oil phase and blend well with a hand mixer or stick blender for at least 3 minutes. Repeat often until the lotion reaches 45C.

4. When the lotion reaches 45C, add the preservative, hydrolyzed protein, panthenol, extract, and essential oils and mix well with the hand mixer or blender. Let cool.

5. Pour the mixture into a bottle - one with a treatment pump, preferably - and let sit until completely cooled.

Join me tomorrow for soy bean oil - the neglected moisturizing, linoleic acid containing oil!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is a fantastic oil if you are looking for a high linoleic acid oil. It is light, meaning you can make some very light moisturizers containing great ingredients, and it's inexpensive.

Its fatty acid make up is...
5 to 7% palmitic acid (saturated, C16)
3 to 6% stearic acid (saturated, C18)
16 to 36% oleic acid (unsaturated, C18:1)
61 to 73% linoleic acid (unsaturated, C18:2)

It can contain up to 700 mg per kg Vitamin E, 500 mg in the form of the alpha tocopherol and 100 mg in the gamma tocopherol.

Unfortunately, with all those double bonds in the linoleic acid, it doesn't have a long shelf life - 3 to 6 months. The high levels of Vitamin E help with oxidation, but not enough to overcome the double bonds. If you buy the high oleic version, you're going to lose all the benefits of the linoleic acid (but gain those of the oleic acid, so it's not all bad!) With these high levels of Vitamin E, you're going to get the goodness offered by the vitamin - softening of the skin, alleviation of dry skin, the usual retention of water, plus anti-inflammatory benefits!

Another bonus of sunflower oil is the cost - it's one of the least expensive oils you can buy at $7 to $10 a pound.

It's not considered a comedogenic oil, so it is good for facial lotions. Not only is it light, but it is also thought to help with acne! (I definitely recommend it for acne - it makes your skin feel moisturized and very soft!)

Join me tomorrow for some ideas on formulating a facial moisturizer with sunflower oil!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beard conditioner with linoleic acid containing oils

Won't someone please think of the pirates?

Winter is coming, and this means red cheeks and dry, chapped skin. Moisturizers can be a great help, but what about our manly friends with beards? Moisturizers can leave their beards a lank, greasy mess, but the skin underneath needs a little love! We know linoleic acid can help with itchy, dry skin, so it's perfect for a beard conditioner!

This a very light leave in conditioner with moisturizing oils. The BTMS will offer skin and beard conditioning, and the oils will help with occlusion under the beard!

79% water
10% aloe vera juice
3% glycerin
2% btms
3% high linoleic acid oil like rice bran or sesame seed oil*
1% hydrolyzed protein (I like cromoist)
1% Vitamin E
.5% panthenol
.5% germall plus

*You can use shorter life oils, but my experience with men is that they'll keep the product for ever and ever and a day and it'll go rancid. If you have a man who will pay attention to the date on the bottle, you can use shorter life oils.

Heat all ingredients except for the Liquid Germall Plus and panthenol in a double boiler until the product reaches 70C. Heat and hold for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix well. When the product reaches 45C, add the panthenol and germall plus. Package in a spray bottle for ease of use.

If the pirate in your life wants to use it like a lotion, he (or she, if you have some bearded friends!) can pour it into his hands. In this case, you can increase your oils to up to 10% and still see emulsification (remove from the water portion!)

You can include a fragrance here, but it's right under someone's nose, so that might be a little annoying to your intended recipient.

Feel free to substitute other oils, but the BTMS and hydrolyzed protein are essential to this recipe as they offer the conditioning, oil free moisturizing, and occlusion. You could substitute Incroquat CR if you aren't using the oils or cetab if you want to use a different cationic quat. There's no point in putting cetac in this - you aren't looking for detangling (unless you have someone with a really tangly beard, then add 1% and remove 1% from the water).

You can leave out the aloe vera or substitute the water for various hydrosols and more aloe vera if you wish.

Arrr mateys! Have fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Linoleic acid: Lotion bars

A simply way to get linoleic acid on your skin is to make a simple lotion bar. (And my picture isn't great - I have to learn how to use that white balance!)

32% beeswax
33% butter
33% liquid oil
1% Vitamin E or other anti-oxidant at suggested rates
1% fragrance or essential oils (at safe levels)

Melt the ingredients in a double boiler and heat and hold for 20 minutes. When it has cooled slightly, add the fragrance or essential oil, then pour into a mold. Let set until hardened, preferable in a fridge or freezer.

Or you can pour it into a deodorant or lip balm container and use it in a stick format.

For the butter, you could choose any of the butters you like as none of them really have a lot of linoleic acid. For the oils, choose something with high levels of linoleic acid. If you are going to use this in a short period of time, you could use wheat germ and hemp seed; if you want to keep this for a while, soy bean and rice bran oil might be your best choice. Or choose one oil - sunflower - and enjoy that!

If you want something a little fancier, try this recipe below!

MY FAVOURITE LOTION BAR RECIPE, modified to include lots of linoleic acid containing oils
28% beeswax
10% sesame oil (switched from fractionated coconut oil)
25% rice bran oil (switched from sunflower oil to give it a longer shelf life)
3% sunflower oil
30% mango butter
2% IPM
2% cyclomethicone
2% vitamin E
1% FO

Melt all but the cyclomethicone and fragrance oil in a heat proof container in your double boiler. When all the ingredients have melted, add the cyclomethicone and fragrance oil, then pour into a mold or twist up deodorant container. Let set. Use!

This is a bar intended to start melting at your body temperature, that's why I used all mango butter. It is very melty. If you want something less melty, then try cocoa or kokum or another very hard butter.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with oils with lots of linoleic acid!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Linoleic acid

As an introduction to looking at the various oils we can use in making our bath & body products, I thought I'd take a look at the various fatty acids on their own and see what they bring to the mix...and linoleic acid (C18:2 or octadecadienoic acid ) seemed like a good place to start. And what a place to start! I think a person could do a PhD dissertation on this fatty acid! It's found everywhere, and it's essential for our skin and body to function.

Linoleic acid is considered an essential fatty acid, one we can't construct ourselves in our body, so we have to get it from the outside world. It is crucial to normal barrier function in skin, and a deficiency can lead to dry skin and hair, hair loss, and poor wound healing. It is a major component in ceramides - about 14% - which make up about 50% of our stratum corneum or outer layer of skin.

Ceramides are essential for the normal organization of our tissues into structures that are responsible for keeping the barrier function of the skin functioning well, like preventing transepidermal water loss and keeping other things out. They are found in our skin at about 50% by mass. The other components of our skin are fatty acids (10 to 20% by mass) and cholesterol (about 25%). A decrease in ceramides - through aging, exposure to high or low temperatures - can lead to dry skin and itchiness due to a decrease in the efficacy of the stratum corneum's ability to keep water in and other things out.

Note: To make a moisturizer and call it filled with ceramides, you have to follow the ratio above of 50% linoleic acid, 10% free fatty acids, and 25% cholesterol. I'm not making the claim any of the following recipes contain ceramides as I won't be actively including the free fatty acids or cholesterol.

During the winter, a proportion of our ceramide 1 linoleate (acylceramide) decreases, and this can lead to dry and itchy skin. During the summer, our skin has increased levels of palmitic and palmitoleic fatty acids. And people with atopic dermatitis and acne show reduced levels of linoleic acid in their skin.

Studies have shown linoleic acid can restore the barrier function and reduce scaling on your skin. One study showed using linoleic acid on people with acne reduced the pustule size by 25% in one month. It can act as an anti-inflammatory, acne reducer, and moisture retainer.

You can eat your linoleic acid in the form of fats and you can put them directly on your skin for maximum lovely benefits!

The one problem with linoleic acid? It's a polyunsaturated fatty acid (C18:2), so most of the oils in which we'll find it are going to have short shelf lives. We can choose ones with longer shelf lives - like rice bran oil - or add anti-oxidants and chelating ingredients to our lotions. (Or just accept we're going to have a short shelf life product and make a note of when to throw it away!)

Sunflower oil contains 61 to 73% linoleic acid with a shelf life of about 6 months. The high oleic versions will last a year, but they only contain about 3 to 9% linoleic acid. As a note, sunflower oil contains about 630 to 700 mg Vitamin E per kilogram (which is quite a lot), so this explains why something with such a high ratio of double bonds can last 6 months!

Safflower oil contains up to 70% linoleic acid, but again its shelf life is about 6 months.

Rice bran oil contains up to 37% linoleic acid and 42% oleic acid (more on this shortly) and up to 400 mg per kg tocopherols, giving it a long shelf life of about a year. It also contains Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and squalane.

Sesame oil contains up to 40.4% linoleic acid, and is a longer lasting oil thanks to the high proportion of oleic acid (C18:1). It is a medium weight oil and is good for massage oils as it won't stain clothes or sheets.

Soybean oil contains up to 51% linoleic acid, and contains up to 700 mg per kg tocopherols (mostly in the gamma tocopherol state, which is great for its anti-oxidant properties). This oil should last 9 months to a year thanks to those anti-oxidants.

Wheat germ and hemp seed are both awesome linoleic acid sources, but both have very short shelf lives - 3 to 6 months, if you add your anti-oxidants! Hempseed contains 57% linoleic acid, and wheat germ contains 55 to 60% linoleic acid.

Some our more expensive oils contain both linoleic acid and gamma-linoleic acid (more on this shortly). Evening primrose oil contains 9% gamma linoleic and 71% linoleic acid. Borage and black currant oils both contain high levels. And watermelon seed oil contains 60% linoleic, 20% oleic, and 20% palmitic and stearic acids.

So let's take a look at how we can create some lovely moisturizing products for the upcoming winter season (in the Western hemisphere at least!) using maximum amounts of linoleic acid!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Determining shelf life of your lotion...

Caroline posed an interesting question...My question is if I use a certain percentage of presevative how long will my product last? How long will it be protected? Is there a timeline?

Great question! How do we figure out how long something will last?

Preservatives and anti-oxidants are only one part of the equation. We need to check the shelf life of each ingredient in our lotions.

BASIC LOTION RECIPE (originally from this post)
70% water
15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
5% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)
1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative

OILS: If I'm using the suggested oils above, I would probably have a shelf life of about 9 to 12 months. (I use high oleic sunflower oil for a longer shelf life). If I add some anti-oxidants or chelating ingredients, I could probably stretch that a little longer, but I like to think of it as guaranteeing the shelf life of a year.

The shelf life of your oils is only as long as the shortest shelf life of all the oils. If I added hemp seed to this mixture, I would reduce the shelf life to 3 months. If I added grape seed oil to this mix, then I'm going to reduce it to 3 to 6 months (and I'd side with 3 months). If I used squalane, fractionated coconut oil, and shea oil, my shelf life is going to be more than a year without the anti-oxidants.

BUTTER: Shea or mango are very long lasting butters - up to 2 years - because they are mostly saturated (very few double bonds). So they are more resistant to oxidation than our unsaturated oils. Again, anti-oxidants will extend the shelf life.

FATTY ALCOHOL: I've seen cetyl alcohol as having a shelf life of up to 2 years (I've also seen a shelf life of one year, so check with your supplier).

EMULSIFYING WAX: Check your emulsifying wax for the shelf life - each one is different. Polawax has a 2 year life span. When emulsifying waxes go bad, they start creaming. So it's important to know how long you've had your most important ingredient in a lotion!

FRAGRANCE OR ESSENTIAL OIL: With fragrance oils, you should have a good idea how long each one will last - if they go off, they are going to add stench instead of loveliness to your products! With essential oils, you need to know the shelf life and what happens when the oil goes rancid. Sometimes essential oils can be harmful when they oxidize!

WATER: Can't forget the water. If you're using tap water and not using a chelating agent, your lotion will oxidize much quicker than one using distilled water and good manufacturing processes.

PRESERVATIVE: Your choice of preservative can also determine the shelf life. I use Liquid Germall Plus for most of my creations (Phenonip for creations without water like sugar scrubs or shampoo bars.) LGP has a shelf life of two years, so the most I can get out of a lotion using this preservative is two years.

CONTAINERS: Yep, consider your container. If you have a brand new one from your supplier that has been kept in a good location, your container should be considered clean. If you're re-using a container or have stored it in the equivalent of my bedroom (which is incredibly messy and dusty and untidy), that could contaminate your lotion! (Please don't re-use containers. I know we're all about the recycling and re-using, but it's just not a good idea. If you've ever made a sugar scrub, then left the container out for a few months after using it all up, you'll know the smell of rancidity. It's horrible. And a pre-used container could have all kinds of things in it that can ruin a beautiful, long shelf lived lotion!)

Ingredients like extracts and botanicals can reduce the shelf life of your product dramatically, and need to be well preserved. Before adding any ingredient, know the shelf life and how it can affect your end product. And if there's something you simply must have - let's say aloe vera - but it will reduce the life of your lotion, consider using it in another format with a longer shelf life - like aloe butter or aloe oil. And if you must have it and can't compromise, then make sure you note that on the product label. Hempseed oil is amazingly lovely for acne prone skin like mine, so I put the date I made the product and the throw away date in big black letters on my labels so I won't be inclined to keep it longer (because rancid oils really aren't going to help my skin!).

And remember, the shelf life starts when you get the ingredient, not when you use it. If you've had that olive oil for 6 months, you've got 6 months theory. If you've put your oils in a warm, well lighted area, photo-oxidation can speed up the process of rancidity and leave you with a shorter shelf life. This is why freezing or keeping your oils in a fridge is a good idea! (And, I hate to say it, you have no idea how long the ingredients have been on your supplier's shelves, so we need to take that into account!)

Always date your ingredients when you get them and adding Vitamin E to your oils when you receive them can extend the shelf life! Here's a little information on how to much to add (original found in the comments section of the recent anti-oxidant post.)

Something like Covi Ox T 50 has 50% tocopherol, which means 1 gram contains 0.5 grams tocopherol. For this product, it's recommended at 100 to 400 ppm (or 0.01 to 0.04%) for unsaturated oils, so you'd want to add 0.1 to 0.4 grams per kilogram. It's recommended at up to 2000 ppm (or 0.2%) for polyunsaturated oils (something with a really short shelf life, like hemp seed oil) so you'd want to add 2 grams per kilogram.

So how long would I give my lotion above? If all my ingredients were brand new, if I followed good manufacturing processes (heating and holding, and so on), if I use my preservative, anti-oxidants, and chelating ingredients, I'd say a year. But I'd tell anyone to whom I gave the lotion 6 to 9 months to be on the safe side. If my ingredients weren't brand new - which they likely aren't! - I'd consider the shortest shelf life of the oils and subtract the time I've had it.

I've just stocked upon my oils again, so the date on them would be October 1, 2009 (or so). When I make products to give away at Christmas, I will use a date of 6 months to account for the time since I bought it, plus a little extra to be safe.

Please note...all these comments are about making products, not selling them. If you are selling your products, please get them tested prior to even thinking about selling them and always use batch numbers so you can track what you've made. I don't sell products, so this blog isn't geared towards the business side of things...

And this also applies to any products you make. If your ingredient has a shelf life (and all ingredients do, even if they're long ones!) then make sure you know what it is!

Great question, Caroline! Thanks for making me think so early in the morning! (That was not said sarcastically - I do all my best thinking in the morning after three pots of tea!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Citric acid

Citric acid (or 2-hydroxy-1, 2, 3-propanetricarboxylic acid) is a chelating, anti-oxidizing, and pH altering ingredient that can bind metal ions, help prevent rancidity, and alter the pH of our lotions and surfactant mixtures. It's also a key ingredient in bath bombs.

There are two types of citric acid we can buy - anhydrous (water free) and monohydrate (contains water). I have found the anhydrous citric acid I've bought tends to be a powder and, for me, makes bath bomb creation a far easier process than using the monohydrate, which I've noticed tends to be more like a grain. The anhydrous is much less likely to fizz in high humidity, which means you can use it in bath bombs even when its damp outside! (I used to get mine at Voyageur, but they've stopped carrying the powder form, so I get it at Aquarius. Ask your supplier which one you have!) For other applications, it's irrelevant which one you choose.

It is a chelator like EDTA, which we can use to bind metal ions like calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, nickel, and cobalt to keep our products from experiencing auto-oxidation. By binding these metals, it also keeps surfactant mixes nice and clear! It also helps to boost the efficacy of your preservative.

The difference in using citric acid as your chelating or sequestering agent is the pH changes you might find with it. Citric acid is a weak organic acid, which means it has a pH less than 7 (it ranges between 3.13 to 6.4 depending upon the concentration). When we add it to a lotion or surfactant mix, it can change the pH of our product. For something like a hair care product, we want a pH around the pH of our hair, which is 5.6 to 6.2. For a lotion, we want a pH around 5 to 6 - our skin is about 5.5.

Including too much citric acid in something like a shampoo can change your hair colour! Remember "Sun In"? (It was all the rage when I was a teenager - eek, I'm dating myself here!) It can lighten your hair if you're using too much of it! (You do have to use a decent amount - say 1% or more, so the 0.1% suggested below should be fine!)

Citric acid can be used as an AHA type acid in facial products, but as I've not used it in that context before, I'm not comfortable making any suggestions for use. It can also be used as a buffer (something that maintains the pH of a product) with sodium citrate if you're using things like AHA or Multifruit or Phytofruit or another acidic ingredient.

How much to add? You only want a titch when you're using it as a chelator and anti-oxidant - 0.1% or so - and this shouldn't be enough to change the pH dramatically. If you're using citric acid at higher levels, I'd suggest getting a pH meter (it's on my Christmas list) or using those pH strips.

If you are interested in learning more about acid-base reactions and pH, you can start here with the Wikipedia entry. If you're interested in learning more about buffers, again I offer you a Wikipedia entry!

Join me tomorrow for a discussion on how to determine the shelf life of your lotion, then a closer look at linoleic acid!

Monday, October 19, 2009

EDTA in our creations!

Let's take a look at including EDTA in a lotion formula...The disodium EDTA I have from the Personal Formulator recommends usage at 0.1%, so I'll use that as my number.

A THICKER FOOT CREAM RECIPE (originally in this post...)

59.9% water
3% glycerin
0.1% disodium EDTA

15% oils - olive and rice bran are great choices here (we want heavier oils)
10% butters - I'd choose shea and/or mango here as they are both very emollient
6% emulsifier
3% stearic acid

0.5% Vitamin E (you can go as low as 0.05%, but that's hard to measure!)
0.5 to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil blend

1. Weigh out your water phase in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

2. Weigh out your oil phase in a heat proof container and put into your double boiler. (If you are using menthol crystals, add this to the oil phase.)

3. When both containers have reached 70C, heat and hold for 20 minutes. Add the water phase to the oil phase for exciting phase inversion stability!

4. Blend with a hand mixer or stick blender for at least 3 minutes. Repeat this process as often as you would like until the temperature reaches 45C.

5. Let cool to 45C, then add your fragrance or essential oil and preservative. Mix well with your hand mixer or stick blender, then let cool.

6. You can pour the mixture into a jar now, but leave off the cap and let set for a few hours. Or you can wait until the mixture reaches room temperature, then spoon into your jar. Or you could use a pump bottle or malibu bottle as this will be bottle-able if you have a way of squeezing it out!


EDTA is added to surfactant creations to stabilize the foam and to bind the metal ions together so you get more lather and bubbles. So let's take a look at using EDTA in a bubble bath for extra foamy goodness. You can use it in a shampoo, body wash, or other surfactant creation in the same fashion.

36.5% distilled water water
30% Amphosol CG
22% Bioterge AS-40
6% BSB
1% glycerin
0.5% to 1% preservative (Germall Plus or Germaben)
2% fragrance oil
0.1% EDTA
Colouring, if desired

Up to 2% Crothix - the liquid, not the pastilles

Mix your surfactants together until well blended, then add the water and blend well. Add the glycerin and EDTA, and blend well, but not too well as you don't want a ton of bubbles. I suggest you heat and hold this phase for maximum preservation.

When the mixture has cooled to 45C, add the preservative, fragrance oil, and colour.

Let it rest until completely at room temperature, then check the viscosity. If you are happy with it, bottle and label it. If you aren't happy with it, then add 1% liquid Crothix and stir well. If you still aren't happy with it, add another 0.5% Crothix. You can go up to 2% Crothix, but ensure you stir very well in between additions. I wouldn't go over 2% Crothix - if you need to go over this amount, you're just asking for bubble Jell-o!

Join me tomorrow for citric acid - chelator, sequesterer, acidifier, anti-oxidant, and awesome ingredient in bath bombs!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

EDTA - a chelating and sequestering anti-oxidant

EDTA (or ethylenediaminetetra acetic acid) is a wonderful polyamino carboxylic acid that has the ability to chelate, sequester, and offer anti-oxidizing properties to our lotions. And we only need to use 0.20% to get maximum benefits in our lotions and surfactant based products! (For a cool rotating EDTA molecule, click here!)

What exactly is a chelating or sequestering ingredient? EDTA binds with metal ions (mostly calcium and iron ions) and keeps them from being reactive with our various ingredients. These metal ions can precipitate in our creations, forming a metallic solid that is really unpleasant. And the metal ions can keep our surfactant mixes from foaming as well as they should, and can remove the scum that builds up on the tub after a bath.

We know auto-oxidation with metals in the oils and water can promote rancidity, so adding EDTA to our creations will bind those metals to the EDTA and slow down the auto-oxidation process. (Which is also another reason to use purified or distilled water - get rid of those naughty metal ions!)

On top of all of this metal binding goodness, EDTA can behave as an auxiliary preservative to kill off those nasty microbes. There's always a chance a beastie will adapt to the preservative in our lotion and learn to live there - eek! - but the chelating agent disrupts the outer lipid layer of the microbes (where stability is calcium and magnesium ion dependent), which increases the penetration of the other anti-microbial preservatives into the bacterial cell!

EDTA is found in a salt form when we buy it from our suppliers - either calcium or sodium - to increase solubility in our creations. It is suggested you use tetrasodium EDTA for alkaline products (pH over 7) and disodium EDTA for products in the pH range of 3.0 to 9.0. We can use it in lotions and surfactant based creations at up to 0.20%, which is enough to do the job (but check your suppliers' recommendations). Add it to your water phase.

Join me tomorrow to see how we can add EDTA to a lotion formula for all that chelating goodness!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A more in-depth look at anti-oxidants!

Anti-oxidants can stave off rancidity in our oils, giving them a longer shelf life in our products. Nothing can make the possibility of rancidity go away completely, but anti-oxidants are huge weapons in our fight on ickiness!

Free radicals are constantly running around in our lotions, seeking out electrons to fill its valence shell. When we add an anti-oxidant, we provide that free radical with those electrons. The radical is content with its electron shell and bothers us no more! How awesome is that?

VITAMIN E is one of the main lipophilic anti-oxidants you'll find for bath and body products, and it's the most commonly used by homecrafters. It comes in four varieties of tocopherols and four varieties of tocotrienols. We will be focusing mainly on the alpha tocopherol, which is the one you're most likely to see in suppliers' shops.

Vitamin E is found in our stratum corneum and is secreted by our sebaceous glands to the surface of our skin. Studies have demonstrated - at least on lab rodents - that it sinks readily into our skin and can inhibit lipid peroxidation, which is like oxidiation of the oils on our skin! It has also been shown to reduce sunburn irritation in mice (which just shows you albino creatures and sunlight don't mix!).

The interesting thing about Vitamin E is it can lose its anti-oxidating power, so it's unable to contribute an electron to the free radical. But in an exciting redox process, it gets its electron back, so the cycle continues again. Ah, you have to love chemistry!

You can use it at rates as low as 0.01 to 0.05% in your creations or oils. I like to use it at 1% because it has such wonderful qualities for skin, but you can use lower amounts.

VITAMIN C, or ascorbic acid, is one of the most common hydrophilic anti-oxidants. It's present in high amounts in our skin, and it can chase away scurvy (arrr, be gone scurvy!). Unfortunately, it's not very stable and can be esterified with phosphates.

For our purposes, it works well with iron found in our water, specifically converting Fe(III) to Fe(II).

Honestly, although Vitamin C does have some nice properties for skin, given its instability, it's probably not the anti-oxidant to use most in a lotion. As well, it's hydrophilic, meaning it's going to hang out mostly in the water section of the lotion, and rancidity takes place in the oil part of our lotion.

Join me tomorrow for fun with the chelating agents - EDTA and citric acid!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mechanisms of rancidity

There are different ways by which our oils can become rancid, most of them involving oxygen. I know we need it to live, but it's such a nuisance!

The double bonds of the fatty acid react chemically with oxygen. This turns the fatty acid molecules into other molecules that smell awful!

This can be a result of photo-oxidation or auto-oxidation.

The double bond interacts with a singlet oxygen (1O2), which is produced by the light. It is highly reactive with unsaturated lipids. The process is even quicker when you introduce sensitizers like chlorophyll and various other organic substances (like blood, bile, and riboflavin, but those shouldn't be issues for lotion makers - I hope!)

This is why we try to keep our oils away from strong light - bright light can produce more oxygen in the bottle, which can increase the process of photo-oxidation. This is a much faster process than auto-oxidation. Various carotenoids in our oils can slow this process - derivatives of lycopene, like lutein, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin, as well as beta-carotene - and many oils contain these ingredients. These are natural anti-oxidants found in our oils, and most of them contain at least a few to fight rancidity!

Even in the absence of air, we find oxygen. Oh oxygen, you are so necessary but so annoying! Through the breaking of the double bonds, the oxygens helps the the fatty acids break down into hydrocarbons (the H-C-H chains you see, which can be methane - 1 carbon, 4 hydrogens - or ethane - 2 carbons, 6 hydrogens), ketones, aldehydes, epoxides, and alcohols, some of which are smelly ingredients!

This process is a slow one when anti-oxidants are found in the oils. When the anti-oxidants are gone, it's a really fast process and takes very little time at all if the oil is heated as well. (Which gives you a good reason to get some Vitamin E into your oils when you get them from the supplier!)

Metal ions in the water at low levels can promote auto-oxidation. This is why we use chelating agents (also called sequestering agents) like citric acid and EDTA to bind the metals so they won't be a nuisance in our lotions. (And why we use distilled water that should not contain these metals!) The main culprit is iron, and the process can be speeded up by exposure to light.

Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction in which a molecule is cleaved into two parts by the addition of a water molecule ("hydro" is water, "lysis" is splitting"). The fatty acids are split away from the glycerol backbone, and the water is split into H (hydrogen) or OH (hydroxide) ions. When this happens, our lovely fatty acid molecules are morphed into a new molecule and we have rancidity.

Interestingly enough, this process - the hydrolysis, not the rancidity part - is saponification or soap making. Saponification is the hydrolysis of a fat and an aqueous base like sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. Glycerol (or glycerine) is formed as the fatty acids are removed from the triglyceride form and converted into salts! So hydrolysis can be a benefit for soap makers and a bane to lotion makers!

Yes, our little beastie friends can cause rancidity in our lotions! (Which is why you must ALWAYS use a preservative!) Microorganisms use their little enzymes (usually lipases) to break down the chemical structure in the fat. Which, again, results in rancidity.

Wow, when you consider how many ways a lotion can go wrong - between rancidity and flocculation and separation and so on - it's a wonder we can make them at all. Fortunately, we have anti-oxidants ready and waiting to stave off rancidity as long as possible!

Join me tomorrow for fun with anti-oxidants!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rancidity: A primer

EEEK! Rancidity! The curse of lotion makers everywhere! You know how oils can go rancid now - through the breaking of the double bonds - but how exactly does that happen and how can we prevent it from ruining your lotions and potions!

For a short post on anti-oxidants, please click here. I will be going into more detail about various anti-oxidants and chelating agents in the next few weeks!

The main destructors of our oils are heat, exposure to light, exposure to air, and time. In lotions, water can also be our enemy.

Heat and time are pretty basic concepts. When we heat anything, the chemical process speeds up. Let's say it take 6 months for an oil to go rancid. When we heat it, we reduce that time dramatically. It can take a few hours instead of months!

This is attributed to the rate of reaction. Every chemical reaction has a rate of reaction, which is determined by various factors. When we heat up a chemical reaction, the molecules bounce around more, which increases the number of collisions (this is called collision theory). The more bouncing molecules, the more collisions, the faster the reaction. So when we heat up an oil, even slightly, we increase the bouncing around of the molecules, which means more possibility of colliding into a free radical, which can cause oxidation. Most chemical reactions are rated at SATP - standard atmosphere (1 atm, or sea level) and temperature (25C).

And time...well, it's the enemy of all things, isn't it? Time is what makes our oils go rancid, even if we have stored them in a cool, dark place with a wonderful bottle and seal! (Time is really not accurate as it is really the chemical reaction happening over time, but it is still our enemy!)

If heat can speed up a chemical reaction, then, logically, cold can slow down a chemical reaction, at least with oils. Hence the suggestion to keep your oils in a cool, dark place to avoid sunlight and heat!

The main culprit in rancidity is the free radical. A free radical is an atom, molecule, or ion with unpaired electron. As you might remember, atoms really like to have 8 electrons and will do just about anything - no matter how foolhardy! - to get those 8 electrons. So they are highly reactive, looking for electrons to make up that complete valence shell.

The free radicals that we worry most about are O2 (oxygen, but can be found alone in O form), H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide, more about this later), and OH- (hydroxide). When these free radicals are involved in rancidity, we call it an oxidative process (because of the oxygen atoms). And the oxidative process is pretty much the main cause of rancidity (with the possible exception of microbial contamination).

Join me tomorrow for more on the different types of rancidity!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cis and trans fats

I know the words "trans fats" sends a shiver up our spines these days, but they are really relevant in understanding the differences in our oils!

But wait - I've just realized I haven't really explained what a double bond is! EEK!

If you want a really great explanation of hydrocarbon bonding, check out this site. Mine is a simplified explanation, I admit!

Carbon has 4 electrons that want to connect with other atoms (the blue dots). Hydrogen has 1 electron that wants to connect with other atoms (the red dots). Atoms really like to have 8 electrons, so they connect with other atoms to make up 8 electrons. As you can see from this picture, carbon likes to be surrounded by 4 hydrogen atoms to make up this 8 electron configuration.

Atoms are so desperate to make up this 8 electron configuration, sometimes they will bond doubly or triply with another atom to get to that number. (Look at hydrogen cyanide to see a triple bonded nitrogen. Such a pretty molecule! I even made a bracelet based on this molecule! And yes, I am a chemistry geek, and proud of it!)

In the case of a double bond in a fatty acid, the carbon doesn't connect with a hydrogen, it connects with another carbon in a double bond, leaving the hydrogen out in the cold. Normally when we look at a fatty acid chain, we see a top row of hydrogen atoms, then a row of carbons, then a row of hydrogens. This would be a single bonded or saturated fatty acid because there are double bonds. If you look at the unsaturated fatty acid chain, there are missing hydrogen atoms where the carbon atoms are double bonded! This the double bond, and it is easily broken so something else can get in that place of the missing hydrogen. (If you recall yesterday's post, we can make the bonds break and put hydrogen in those spaces.)

All right...back to cis and trans fats!

When we have a double bond on a fatty acid, it can be in either the cis- or trans- configuration. What exactly does this mean?

In the cis configuration, the missing hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double bond (cis means "same"). The molecules bend at the site of the double bond, giving us a kinky molecule that won't pack in nice straight, dense lines like the saturated fatty acids. Put a bunch of these together and you have a liquid oil!

In the trans configuration, the missing hydrogen atoms are on the opposite sides of the double bonds. The chain doesn't bend much, so they have a straighter shape. Meaning they can pack in more densely, resulting in an oil that behaves as a solid saturated oil instead of a liquid oil. It has a higher melting point, doesn't need refrigeration, and is cheaper than saturated oils like coconut or palm oil.

The process of partial hydrogenation can force the hydrogen atoms in a normal cis configuration to become a trans configuration. The double bonds are broken, then re-formed in the trans configuration. You are unlikely to find a trans configuration in the oils we use in bath & body products as it usually arises out of processing and would likely cost more than a regular vegetable oil.

If you're really interested in learning more about trans fats, please click here. It is a fascinating subject!

Join me tomorrow for a post on the evils of rancidity!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hydrogenation and fatty acid shapes

No, I'm not getting into how bad hydrogenated oils are for your heart ('cause you need a heart to live), but my interest in this topic is all about the oils we use in bath & body creations!

When a molecule has double bonds, that double bond can be broken and the fatty acid now reacts chemically with oxygen to produce all kinds of molecules we don't want in our lotions that have horrible smells.

Hydrogenation is the process of breaking those double bonds in advance and inserting hydrogen into the open spaces. This makes an oil less likely to go rancid because you've pre-oxidized it, as it were. You've turned an unsaturated fat (one with at least 1 double bond) into a saturated fat (one with no double bonds).

Oils can be saturated without the help of processing - animal fats, shea butter, and illipe butter are all naturally occurring saturated fats.

Saturated fats lie in a straight line (more about this below), so they pack together more easily. When triglyceride molecules are packed together well, they become a solid oil with a higher melting point. And they have longer shelf lives because the double bonds have been eliminated, so they are more resistant to rancidity. You can see why this has some appeal, eh?

Double bonds in a fatty acid shape can make it go from the lovely straight line we see in the saturated fatty acids like stearic and palmitic acid, to the kinky line you see in the oleic acid (C18:1 - 1 double bond) and erucic acid (C22:1 - 1 double bond, found in rapeseed and mustard seed). When we add another double bond, it can make the fatty acid contort in all kinds of ways, as we see in the linoleic acid (C18:2) or arachidonic (C20:4 - 4 double bonds, an omega-6 fatty acid).

So what does this mean for us? A double bond makes the fatty acid kinky, which means it can't pack in as tightly as those without double bonds. So we get a liquid oil. If you look at the oils with more double bonds - grapeseed, sunflower, or safflower oils - you'll notice they are considered "light" oils. Whereas oils like olive oil, avocado oil, and rice bran oil have fewer double bonds and are heavier.

So the heavier oils have fewer double bonds, which means they go rancid less quickly than the lighter oils. (I'm not talking about fractionated oils here...more on this in another post.) The butters will go rancid in the distant future because they don't have any double bonds at all!

Okay, I want to acknowledge there are other ways for fatty acids to go rancid other than the whole breaking of the double bonds thing, but that's Thursday's post!

Join me tomorrow for cis and trans fats (eek!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fatty acids!

A triglyceride is made up of a glycerol backbone and three fatty acids. So let's take a look at fatty acids!

If you're a lotion maker, you're familiar with stearic acid as a thickener. Stearic acid is a C18 fatty acid, which means it is a long chain (C18) fatty acid without any double bonds, so it's a long chain saturated fatty acid. If we put three of these fatty acids together with a glycerol molecule, we'd have a saturated glyceride, and one with a great shelf life!

But it's fairly uncommon for an oil to have three of the same fatty acids. They tend to have at least 2 different kinds, and sometimes three, as you'll see below with sunflower and olive oil.

In the picture to the left, the three fatty acids attached to the glycerol backbone are different. One is a single bonded fatty acid, one has 1 set of double bonds, and the other has three sets of double bonds!

The fatty acids connected to the glycerol backbone determine what the kind of oil or butter. The fatty acids can have differing carbon chain lengths and different types of bonding. They can also have different configurations (trans fats - you've heard about those!) that determine if an oil is liquid or solid.

For instance, it looks like this triglyceride is composed of a C16 chain, a C18:1 chain, and a C18:3 chain. I know C16 is palmitic acid. C18:1 is called oleic acid. And C18:3 is linolenic acid. This could be a corn, cottonseed, or palm oil molecule. The polyunsaturated chain (the C18:3 or linolenic fatty acid has more than 1 double bond, which means it is unsaturated, and because there's more than 1, it's called polyunsaturated!) can go rancid quite easily!

What this means in terms of making lotions or other creations is this molecule has THREE double bonds on that last fatty acid, so it may go rancid more quickly than something like olive oil below.

Olive oil has between 55 and 85% oleic acid, 4.6% linoleic acid, 6.9% palmitic acid, and 2.3% stearic acid. In this sample molecule, we see a triglyceride with an oleic fatty acid (C18:1 - 1 double bond), linoleic acid (C18:2 - 2 double bonds), and palmitic acid (C16 - no double bonds). If oleic acid makes up the bulk of the fatty acids with its 1 double bond, we are going to see an oil that is less likely to go rancid than one that is filled with linoleic acid (2 double bonds).

(Interesting site on olive oil chemistry here!)

Okay, so this is fascinating and all, but what does this mean for bath & body makers? Olive oil is a liquid oil that is unlikely to go rancid quickly, but it will go rancid eventually, as indicated by the double bonds. It also indicates it's a liquid oil, which I'll go into tomorrow!

This is a high oleic sunflower oil molecule. I love sunflower oils in my lotions and other creations, but it tends to go rancid far too quickly for my tastes!

Normal sunflower oil will have about 25% oleic acid (C18:1), 66% linoleic (C18:2), 2% stearic (C18), and 5.6% palmitic (C16). What this means is about 91% of the sunflower oil is composed of fatty acids with 1 or 2 double bonds, so it's going to go rancid quickly. A high oleic sunflower oil is composed of 80-92% oleic acid (C18:1) and 3 to 10% linoleic acid (C18:2), with some stearic and palmitic fatty acids thrown in (less palmitic - about 5.6%).

The high oleic sunflower oil will last longer than the regular sunflower oil because there are fewer double bonds to break. It will still go rancid more quickly than a saturated oil, but fewer polyunsaturated fatty acids and more monounsaturated fatty acids (ones with 1 double bond) means you're going to have a longer shelf life oil.

The down side to the high oleic sunflower oil is you are losing the linoleic fatty acid that can be beneficial to your skin, but I'll get into that in the sunflower oil post shortly!

So what does this all mean? By looking at a oils and butter property chart, you can figure out if an oil will go rancid quickly! And you can look for specific properties the fatty acids can offer in the profile to see which one you want to add for what properties. Soapmakers have long known how to choose oils to increase or decrease certain characteristics - you can figure out which ones you want to use in your bath & body creations by looking at the oil profile as well!

Join me tomorrow for fun with molecule configurations (it really is interesting, I promise you!)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Triglycerides or Our friends, the oils!

I find one of the hardest things about making lotions is choosing the right oil for the job! I'm faced with a shelf of wonderful oils filled with wonderful and amazing qualities and I can't use them all! How to choose? Here's a little chemistry on triglycerides as a preface to a series on oils...

I have done a few posts on oils already if you want to check them out...

This beautiful molecule to the left is a triglyceride (castor oil to be exact). It is a molecule with a glycerol (or glycerine) backbone and three fatty acids attached to it. If you look at this molecule - around the middle, before the OH bonds - you'll see a double line. This is a double bond, which means this is an unsaturated molecule.

In a saturated triglyceride, the carbons are single bonded, which are hard to break. They are stable over long periods of time because there isn't going to be oxidation. Most of these are buttery fats like coconut oil, babassu oil, palm oil, and animal oils. Oils like beeswax and candelilla wax are also saturated (yep, I don't think of beeswax as an oil either, but it fits the description!) Jojoba is another saturated triglyceride, which explains its long shelf life.

You can tell a single bond by the name "-ane". Squalane, for example, contains only single bonds, which means it is more resistant to rancidity. "-ene" means there are double bonds in the molecule. And "-yne" means triple bonds! These are going to have shorter shelf lives!

In an unsaturated triglyceride, these double bonds can be broken easily and oxidation occurs. The more double bonds, the more potential for oxidation. This explains the shelf life of something like grapeseed oil. It has 3 double bonds in the chain (it is a C18:3 triglyceride, meaning is has 18 carbon bonds and 3 double bonds), which means it has three places where the bonds can be broken and the oxidation can occur!

Most of the oils we use are "class 5: plant derived products, C18, unsaturated" meaning they contain 18 carbon atoms in those long chains. The unsaturated part means they have double bonds. Some of our oils have more than 18 carbon molecules - like meadowfoam (C20:1) and jojoba - but what's really important is the number of double or triple bonds when it comes to rancidity.

Sweet almond oil is a C18:1 triglyceride, meaning it has 18 carbon molecules and 1 double bond. Other C18:1 oils are olive oil, hazelnut oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil, and cocoa butter. So we know these oils are going to last longer than the C18:2 oils like soybean, sunflower, safflower, and wheat germ. And these oils will last longer than the C18:3 oils like grapeseed and borage.

Join me tomorrow for the chemistry of fatty acids!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Conditioner bars - a visual tutorial

I love conditioner bars, and I thought I'd share this visual tutorial for making them with you while I write some lotion posts! If you want to follow along, please check out the conditioner bar or shaving bar recipes!

60% Incroquat BTMS
10% cetyl alcohol (you can use stearic if you want a harder bar, but it's going to be draggy!)
10% butter of your choice - preferably 5% cocoa butter plus 5% something else
5% oils of your choice
3% condition-eze 7, honeyquat, or other cationic polymer
2% hydrolyzed protein (I'm using cromoist)

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% cetrimonium chloride
2% fragrance or essential oil (I'm using my oily hair blend of equal parts cedarwood, sage, rosemary, and lime)

For this recipe, I'm using about 20% Incroquat CR (10% removed from BTMS - and I only used 5% orange butter and didn't use any oils). I'm using condtion-eze 7 in this. I multiplied this recipe by 10 to make 10 bars, so this is quite a large batch!

Melt the BTMS, cetyl alcohol, butter, oils, hydrolyzed protein, and condition-eze 7 in a container. You can see the layers with the butter on top! So pretty!

Put into your double boiler and allow to melt. This might take a while - I'd say at least 30 minutes, but probably closer to 45 - so you might want to get your molds ready and ensure you have space in your freezer for your bars! I like to get my cool down ingredients together in a metal or glass container - don't use a plastic cup as your fragrance or essential oil can eat through it! - so I can clean up the workshop a little.

I use this fondue pot, which I set to about 300F to heat up, then turn to about 200F or warm when I'm actually melting ingredients. You don't want it to be boiling because this can cause your Pyrex to break (over time, not immediately) or water can jump out of the pot into your creation, and this is not a good thing!

This is what it will look like when it has melted. You'll notice the white around the sides of the Pyrex jug. This the stuff that has re-hardened because my workshop was a little cool last week. You can scrape it off the sides and add it to the Pyrex jug if you're going to continue heating it.

Ideally, you'd have the water in the double boiler up higher - I just forgot to put more in as it evaporated! This will keep your ingredients from cooling around the sides.

When it reaches this point, you're ready to remove it from the double boiler and add your cool down ingredients.

Pour the liquids into a mold and put into the freezer or fridge as soon as you can. I like to leave them in the freezer for at least an hour - preferably longer - and in the fridge for about 2 hours or so. When they have cooled, pop them out of the mold and leave them to cure for at least 24 hours before using. I find they last longer this way!

You'll notice the little divot in the back of the bars. This is normal. I've tried leaving batches out on the counter to cool, in the fridge, and in the freezer and they all get this little dip. It won't affect the product, but if you don't like it, I'm sure you could put another layer of conditioner on top of it - I don't bother doing that.

I did a little experiment and left one mold on the counter, the other in the freezer. The one from the freezer was harder and shinier (although, ironically, in this picture the one on the right - the counter one - is shinier because the flash hit it!) and stayed that way over time.

If you've ever made chocolate, you'll know what I mean about the shine. When you cool chocolate quickly, it gets lovely and shiny; when you leave it on the counter, it looks dull. (This has to do with the various fats and oils cooling down)

The one from the freezer also froze uniformly, so the top was smooth. The one on the counter had little pits in it because some parts of it cooled more quickly than other parts.

If you don't have a nice big freezer, use your fridge. If some reason you can't use your fridge, then leave your bars on the counter. Expect to wait at least 12 hours for complete cooling - I know, I was shocked when they were still warm to the touch later that night! - and then leave for 24 hours before using!

Hope you enjoy your conditioner or shaving bars! (They make great presents for Christmas, and you don't need bottles or jars, which saves money!)