Sunday, January 16, 2011

Question: How do you define a double boiler?

In this post, anonymous asks: When you weigh your ingredients in your pyrex jugs and put them into the double boiler, are you actually putting the pyrex jug on the top part of the double boiler, or are you adding the ingrediets in the double boiler itself (without the pyrex jug)? I'm a beginner and I guess I'm having trouble understanding. I'm thinking about getting two double boilers to make lotions, creams, etc., but if there is an easier way, I'd love to know.

When we talk about using a double boiler to make a product, some of us are using a double boiler (a pot on the bottom with some kind of insert in the top), but most of us make our own by putting heatproof containers - like Pyrex - into a pot of very hot water and heating our ingredients that way. The whole point is not to subject our ingredients to direct heat, so we use the water to heat the ingredients. So technically, it's not a double boiler - it's a pot of water into which we put our heatproof containers. It's just easier to call it a double boiler because people get the idea of not putting the product directly into a pot and putting that on the stove.


I actually use an electric fondue pot as my double boiler, so there's no top and bottom to it as there would be with a double boiler. It's just an open pot with a heating function I can control, as you can see from the picture. 

If you are using something like a pot with very hot to boiling water or a fondue pot, a little metal ring to keep your glass ware from touching the bottom of the container is a good idea (it keeps them from breaking prematurely). You can get these at dollar stores for $1.25 or so, and they're so worth it! 


If you're new to lotion making, check out the basic lotion making instructions here! 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe be the person who asked about the double boiler is familiar with the term Bain Marie or water bath.

Gina

Anonymous said...

I'm the one who wrote about the double boiler. Thank you for explaining this to me. I was quite confused about the whole thing. I was getting ready to buy two double boilers (one for oil phase, other for water phase), now I know that I don't have to! Thanks! :-)

Gina - Actually, I'm not familiar with the term Bain Marie. I just happened to read this blog and kept seeing "double boiler" and "pyrex jugs" and I didn't know if I should buy both or just one. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have another question for you. When you say to get metal rings, are you talking about rings that people put on their fingers? I'm sorry for asking these silly questions, I really am confused. LoL

Anita

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anita. I should have been clearer (I didn't get a lot of sleep last night as I was catching up on Coronation Street and there was a particularly exciting event that made me stay up past my bed time!). What I'm thinking of is a slightly elevated metal ring you'd put at the bottom of a jam pot so your jars don't touch the bottom. I have a few of them, but my main one is about 8 inches across and has four little bumps so they don't touch the bottom of the pot. You can find them as a grid or as a wire mesh thing. I can't describe things well today!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Click here for a picture of what I'm trying to describe in the comment above. They call it a round cooling rack with feet. I get mine at the dollar store or Daiso.

Anonymous said...

It's okay, Susan. I understand. Thanks for showing a picture of what you are talking about.

I have another question for you. When I fill up my pot with water and the rack, do I fill it with water past the rack or below it?

Thank you for your help.

Anita

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anita. You can fill the water as high as you like, as long as it doesn't cover the top of your open jug! I tend to have my water 2/3 of the way up on my Pyrex jugs because it allows it to heat quite quickly but it won't bubble up and get the double boiler water into my containers! Add hot water as you need it because the water will evaporate over a period of time.

Naomi said...

Thanks for the picture! I was wondering what the "ring" was. My 2 cup and 4 cup pyrexs have open handles that I can hang off the edge of the pot but the my 1 cup has a loop handle so I've been threading a wooden chopstix to suspend the cup into the water. Because I have to fill the pot with so much more water to reach the cup, I have to be very careful not to accidentally slip and get water into it - ruins my carefully crafted anhydrous lip and lotion balms!!!

Lindalu said...

Hi Susan,

I went to Liquidation World and bought 2 sets of pots where 1 sits inside the other and is held above by it's handles. I fill the bottom one with water and then use the top one for ingredients. I've found that works really, really well for me....

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lindalu! Great idea! I have a giant canning pot at home, and I love the canning rack! Plus, you can make lovely canned goods with it. (It was supposed to be strawberry jamming day, but it's been too rainy and there were no fresh, local strawberries today!)

Jaydeejersey said...

I have a 3 quart pot that has a metal steamer insert. You can put water in the pot, put in the insert (which has small holes) and the bottom of the insert will lie about 3 inches from the bottom of the pan. Would it work to put the heating vessels on the insert for heating & holding? Also, while you are holding on the stove, do you need to check temperature periodically and adjust the heat ( mine is a gas burner) to keep as close to 70C as possible?

Thanks so much for providing the BEST site I've found on these topics. I just purchased your hair care Ebook and look forward to using it!

Jaydeejersey said...

PS : The metal steamer insert has a flat bottom and a wire handle for lifting the steamer out. See this link which is similar to the one I have. http://www.target.com/p/chefmate-steamer-4-qt/-/A-13786871?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=Google_PLA_df&LNM=%7C13786871&CPNG=Kitchen&kpid=13786871&LID=PA&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=13786871&gclid=CP6i8ejPrbwCFcY7OgodmSwA2g or tinyurl.com/kxx6czk

Jaydeejersey said...

I just realized that you wanted a name attached to a comment, which I didn't do above. So, I'm doing it here,

Thanks,

Joan

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, Just wondering about anhydrous formulations and rising condensation on the outside of the pyrex container caused when the water is heating up. Will the condensation end up inside the pyrex container? I guess that will put water in the product. Or does it just evaporate off during the heating process? Thanks a million. Rachel.

Anonymous said...

Hi susan, is it ok if I put a stainless steel on stove top ring in low heat, without double boiler?
Thanks
Moon