Thursday, June 17, 2010

Challenge: Start with the basics!

I've been thinking a lot about how overcome our crafting fears, and I've realized I'm part of the problem - if you ask me the time, I tell you how to build a clock. It's a little overwhelming at times to take in a ton of information or recipes and sort those through your head to make your first lotion or shampoo or eye shadow. It's kinda like showing up at your first singing lesson and being handed an aria - too much, too soon. You'll be able to do it one day because you're awesome, but right now you just want some information on how not to trash your throat while playing Rock Band.

If you're nervous about making a product for the first time, choose a basic recipe for something you might like from a trusted source (click here for some ideas on how to tell if it's a good recipe. And don't forget, suppliers like the Herbarie or Voyageur have great recipes!). Don't try to tweak it or add other things, just choose one that has ingredients you already have or are easy to find. Then make it.

As a note, I try to call the basic recipes "basic something or other" so you know this is the base recipe for that product - body butter, lotion, shampoo, conditioner - and that's where I'd suggest you start if you're looking at making a recipe from this blog. 

Let's say you want to make a lotion (from this post and this post...). Choose your oil - just choose one - and choose your butter - again, just one. Don't stress about the benefits of the oils or their shelf lives just yet, just follow the instructions and rejoice in having made a lotion! (Although you'll want to note which oils you use and put a use by date on the bottle.)

70% water

15% oil
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
5% emulsifier (BTMS, Polawax, or emulsifying wax NF)

1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
(This doesn't total 100% because of the difference in preservatives!)

1. Weigh out your water in a heat proof container and put into a double boiler. (As a note, weigh more than 70% because it will evaporate when heated, so you'll have less than 70% in the end).

2. Weigh out your oil, butter, cetyl alcohol, and emulsifier in a heat proof container and put into your double boiler.

3. When both containers have reached 70C, weigh out your water again, then add it to your oil container. (This is a very cool closely. It's emulsified! It's lotion!)

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. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature (a few hours), put into a bottle (with a pump, if possible), jar, or malibu bottle, then use.

If you want a body butter instead of a lotion, check out this recipe for a basic body butter.

So get into that workshop and get formulating! I only have 4 more days until we be jamming!


Mich said...

Your blog has given me the confidence to try so many new things! I love how you don't just say "Here's a recipe. Do it." I know some people (like me) feel MUCH more confident when we know exactly WHY we are using a particular ingredient or procedure. You are providing us with something much more valuable than just a set of recipes. You are teaching us how to make our own formulas, and that requires a lot of information! ( I can see how that much info could overload some people--if they're totally new to the craft or just want to "work on a need to know basis"-- but you have beautiful tutorials that should meet their needs too.)

So thank you for making me MORE comfortable, MORE productive, and ultimately much MORE creative.

P.S. Hope your jamming goes well. I have never done that because I am terrified of food poisoning and I actually don't like jelly/jam/preserves that much anyway!

So, I can definitely say that your blog has made me much more comfortable with making B&B creations! Keep up the great work!

Petra said...

Using your singing analogy... I agree that learning how to sing before attempting the aria is the way it SHOULD work. However I have noticed that it is often times the entry level crafter that walks into the first "singing" lesson with aria in hand and expects to be able to sing that by the time they leave. They then need to be sat down and told why singing the aria right now isn't a good idea.

I have sent so many people to your blog from the various forums I'm on. Some sound like they can't be bothered to learn the hows and whys. It infuriates me!

You do an awesome job breaking everything down to the basics and helping us to understand the process. Thanks!

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

Susan, I really like the products you show on this blog-of-the-day. They look like liquid soaps... are they? I've told you I'm on a quest to make EASY and QUICK-TO-MAKE soaps. I spotted this photo and I'm starry eyed! How did you get the liquids to look so many different transparencies, thicknesses, and colours?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

These are bubble baths - I don't make soap of any kind (not because I don't like it, but I just haven't tried!) - so they are made with surfactants like BSB, C14-16 olefin sulfonate, and cocamidopropyl betaine. I wish I could tell you I did this on purpose, but it depends on the type of fragrance you use. If I use something like Satsuma from one company, it makes a clear product. If I use the same fragrance from another company, it's a cloudy product. It's amazing what fragrances can do to a product (you're coming up to that post if you're working your way backwards!).