Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No post this morning...but a question

Let me know what you want to know! With Christmas coming soon - yeah, I know, it's three months away, but when you're a crafter you have to start thinking about these things in July, so I'm really two months late - and the busy craft class teaching season upon us, I need to get the blog organized and do some serious planning to ensure I have a post for every day of the week.

What do you want to see in the next few months? More recipes for lotions or hair care? More information on strange and exotic oils? More information on formulating lotions? More information on surfactants? I'm going through the blog and my e-mail box this weekend to find all the questions you've posed lately, and I'm hoping to answer as many as I can in the coming weeks!

I'm also hoping to put together an e-book on formulating from scratch based on the formulating series that will include information on the HLB system, the helpful hints we've had over the last week and a half, and tons of recipes and ideas on how to learn to formulate your own products. I'm considering a mineral make-up one as well. Any other suggestions? What do you think? What would you like to see?

If you want to e-mail me, please write to sjbarclay@telus.net (look up and to the right in the welcome to the blog section for the permanent link to my e-mail address). Or comment in this thread!

And again, the picture means nothing except my husband collected these eggs at my massage therapist's farm and I thought it would look awesome as a comic book panel! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Question: How do I modify the recipe when I add or subtract an ingredient?

This question comes up a lot, and although I thought I'd covered it before, I figured this question deserved its own post!

How do I modify a recipe when I add or subtract an ingredient? For the most part, we take the same percentage from the water in the heated water phase. A few examples...

You add 10% aloe vera to a lotion. Take 10% away from the water amount.

You add 2% panthenol to a shampoo. Remove 2% from the water amount.

You add 2% panthenol, 5% liquid green tea extract, 2% hydrolyzed oat protein, 0.5% polyquat 44 to a conditioner. Remove 9.5% from the water amount.

If you use 20% lavender hydrosol, 10% aloe vera, 10% chamomile hydrosol, 0.5% powdered grapeseed extract, 0.5% powdered honeysuckle extract, 0.5% allantoin, 0.5% MSM, 2% niacinamide, and 2% salicylic acid, you would remove 44% from the water phase.

I realize many of the ingredients in this last example are powdered, but that doesn't change that we remove the additions from the water amount. This will change the consistency of the product - you've added 6% powders and removed 6% water, which will likely make it thicker - but you've kept the recipe relatively the same.

It doesn't matter if your added ingredient is in the heated water, heated oil, or cool down phase. You still remove the addition from the water amount.

A final example: You add 5% oils to a lotion. Remove 5% from the water amount - AND recalculate your oil phase. You have 5% more oil in your product, so you must recalculate your emulsifier. For Polawax, you would add 1.25% more, and remove a total of 6.25% from your water phase. (If you are using an emulsifier other than Polawax, you'll have to recalculate according to the manufacturer's suggested usage rates.) For the most part, it's easier to substitute one oil for another rather than doing all the recalculating, but I encourage you to add more oils and recalculate as it is one of the first steps to making your own recipes!

If you want to know more about modifying lotions and how to add or subtract ingredients, I wrote about it fairly extensively in the learning to formulate series few months ago. I'm writing this on my iPhone so I can't link, but if you can't wait for me to update this post tomorrow, scroll down and look for formulating in the labels. It's one of the first few posts.

Question: How do we know what version of an ingredient to use and how to substitute it?

Ellbie writes in this postHi Susan. I have a question that is a little off topic but seems to fit into this series of posts. Some ingredients are available in liquid or solid so when you are looking at a recipe how do you know which is listed? AND how do figure out how much to use if you have the opposite? Thanks! This blog is so incredibly awesome!

Wow, what great questions! And the answers are - I'm not sure. We as recipe writers really need to be aware that what we have in our workshop may differ from what's in yours!

Unfortunately, there's isn't an easy rule to figure out how much of a powdered ingredient to add to your product in place of a liquid one. So we have to do a little more work to make sure we have the same ingredient amounts.

Knowing your ingredients really helps in this situation! (I think I've gone from gentle reminding to nagging now! But it's true!)

If you see something like 5% green tea in the heated water phase, then we know that can't be the powdered stuff as it tends to be heat sensitive and tends to be used at 0.5%. If we saw 5% green tea being used in the cool down phase, we'd still know it must be the liquid because 5% powdered green tea extract wouldn't dissolve well in any product and we'd have a ton of precipitate at the bottom of our container. (Click here for a post on solubility!) So we know this recipe uses liquid green tea extract, is just awful and full of lumps of green tea extract, or they're missing the decimal place and zero in front of the 5%!

If you see someone using 2% panthenol in the heated phase and something like "stir until dissolved", you know you have a powdered panthenol there because normally you'd add it to the cool down phase and it wouldn't have to dissolve. If you see something like aloe vera, odds are really good that it's aloe vera liquid or extract, not the gel, because the gel doesn't get used all that often.

Aloe vera gel is not the stuff that comes out of the plant as a gel. (It is aloe vera, but not a natural gel.) It's a gel that is gellified by using a carbomer to make a gel. I don't think I've come upon a recipe yet that has used aloe vera gel without using the words "aloe vera gel". People seem to think that aloe vera gel is more natural or organic, and I guess it could be, if your definition of natural or organic includes up to 2% carbomer and a neutralizer like TEA. (Click here for more information on making gels!) What you want is the aloe vera extract or powdered/concentrated aloe vera or aloe vera juice. 

With something like surfactants, it's easy to figure out the active amount and make that the same as the original recipe. For instance, let's say we have some 65% active SCI and the recipe calls for 85% active SCI. If we are using 20% SCI, this would mean we are using 17% active SCI in the recipe. So figure out how much 65% SCI you need to make up 17% - about 24% to 25% - add it to the product, and remove something else to make up for the difference.

If you have liquid green tea extract, how do you use it in place of powdered? Again, knowing your ingredients helps here (or at least having a reference with information on usage rates). Let's say I have a recipe with 0.5% green tea extract in the cool down phase. Find out the usage levels of the powdered version - 0.1% to 0.5%. Find out the usage levels of the liquid version - 1% to 5%. Find out in which phase you would use the one you have, then use it. I'd use 5% of the liquid because they'll both get used at their maximum levels. (This worked out well because of the suggested usage rates, but it won't always be that easy!)

Having said this, for the most part, once you've got the type of ingredient figured out, you're there. The liquid and solid versions of an ingredient tend to be the same and do the same thing, so if you have powdered panthenol you know it'll work as well as liquid panthenol. There will always be exceptions to any rule, so the best thing is to know the ingredients and how to substitute them.

Where to make space for those extra ingredients when we add more of something? If you're adding something to the water phase, remove an equal percentage of water. If you're adding something to the oil phase, count that as part of the oil phase and ensure you are either recalculating how much emulsifier you will need or removing some of the oils. (For instance, let's say you have 20% olive oil, and you add 5% hazelnut oil, remove 5% olive oil so you still have 20% oils in your oil phase!)

Great question, Ellbie, and not at all off topic! I hope I answered it for you. As with anything in cosmetic chemistry, there isn't a handy dandy jingle to remember to make it easier to figure these things out. Know your ingredients, know what they want you to have, and substitute accordingly. If that fails, write to the recipe writer and ask them what they mean!

Join me tomorrow for a few more questions and comments!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Creating products: Questions about Polawax versus other emulsifying waxes

We've had some great questions and comments come out of the creating products series so far, so I thought I'd share them with you over the next few days! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any post by writing in the comments box (and I don't care how old the post might be - I'm always checking them!) 

Which version of Polawax do you use? There is only one, and that's Polawax by Croda. Your supplier might call it something else, but it is NOT the same as e-wax or emulsifying wax. Yes, the INCI name might be Emulsifying Wax NF and it is an emulsifying wax in the generic sense, but it is a proprietary blend of ingredients and we don't know exactly what is in it! If a supplier is carrying Polawax, they will let you know by calling it Polawax. (They'd be crazy not to as they can charge more for it than emulsifying wax NF).

So Polawax is an emulsifying wax and its INCI is emulsifying wax NF, but it is not the same as emulsifying wax as suppliers don't tend to use the generic term to refer to Polawax. 

What is the emulsifying wax we see in our suppliers' shops? It can be many things, but it's almost always a mix of at least one low HLB emulsfier and one high HLB emulsifier. What you see at one supplier as emulsifying wax isn't necessarily what you'll find at another supplier.

New Directions Aromatics' self-emulsifying wax (INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate), Ingredients to Die For's emulsifying wax is actually Lipowax PA (INCI: Emulsifying wax NF), the Personal Formulator's emulsifying wax has an INCI of  Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Polysorbate 60 (click here for the MSDS),  and Gracefruit's emulsifying wax is Polawax. These are all very different products. One might be a flake, while another is a pastille, and still another is a pellet. (Polawax comes in those little white pastilles or flatter pellet - look left.) Odds are that none of these are the same product and the results you get with one might not be replicated with another. But they would all be considered emulsifying wax.

If you're using something other than Polawax, you might have to adapt your recipe slightly. Voyageur Soap & Candle suggests using 1% more e-wax than Polawax, so you'd want to figure out your recipes using the 25% rule (figure out how much oil you have, then use 25% of that amount in Polawax as the emulsifier - and that rule ONLY applies to Polawax), then add another 1% to ensure stability.

Please note that every emulsifier is different. What works for one emulsifying wax - the 25% rule, for instance - doesn't work for another. BTMS-50 emulsifies at much lower levels than Polawax and I've found that using 8% Ritamulse SCG seems to be the lowest I want to go, even with a 20% oil phase. If you want to use something called emulsifying wax NF that isn't Polawax, consult with your supplier and find out what she suggests as the usage rate, or ask them for the data bulletin and suggested usage rates from the company.

I can't stress enough how important it is to learn your INCI names so you know what you're buying from your suppliers. Click here to learn more about INCI names.

Join me tomorrow for more questions about creating products!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Creating products: Equipment for measuring pH

pH indicators: You can get pH strips from your local supplier, and there always seems to be a great debate about whether or not they are useful. There's always a place for testing your pH in bath and body products, but my experiences with strips have been spotty at best.

I've tried three different kinds of pH strips and none of them made me happy! I didn't feel I was getting an accurate reading on my products. (If you've had a different experience, please share it in the comments.) I've had products that registered as having a neutral pH (around 7) that have registered as 5.5 with my meter!

If you've had good results with the strips, please make a comment! And include supplier information so we can all share in the awesomeness. (But remember, if you're a compnay, please don't write just so you can get your URL listed on the blog! I check every link!) 

pH meters: I love my pH meter, and I won't part with it, but if you can't get one, that's okay. (I make sure all my recipes are pH balanced, so you don't have to!) If you're making a lot of surfactant based products with surfactants that will register as more alkaline - decyl glucoside, for instance - it's not a bad investment. Make sure you get one that is easy to calibrate and doesn't need a ton of replaceable bits, like the tip or strips. And if it can measure temperature, make sure you get it in your local measurement (mine's in Fahrenheit, and I had to get a conversion chart for the workshop).

Here's some information on pH meters!
Calibrating your pH meter
Adjusting the pH of your products
Not worrying about adjusting the pH of your products

Tomorrow I'll address some of the questions that have arisen from the last few posts!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Creating products: Equipment (part 2)

Let's get back to our look at equipment! 

Mixers: There's always this great debate about mixers - do we go with a stick blender, hand mixer, Kitchenaid, or whisking by hand? Yes.

I went into a little detail in this post about mixers, and you can use any of those mixers listed above when making lotions. If you're making a large batch (say 4 kg), the Kitchenaid is an appropriate mixer. If you're making a small batch - say 100 grams - then not so much. 

I have purchased mixers that were too powerful - I want my first setting to be a leisurely mixing, not some crazy, can't hold on to the mixer, things are spewing everywhere kind of power - and I've used ones that weren't powerful enough, but those tended to be of the "my mom got this as an inappropriate Christmas gift instead of diamonds" variety from the 1970's. I think any mixer you buy these days will be more than powerful enough. 

If you can, I suggest getting one with a whisk attachment, as those come in very handy for making whipped butters and sugar scrubs, as well as icing for bath bombs (and regular cupcakes, come to think of it.)

If you want to know a little more about thickening and shear rates, click here

As a note, you know you make too many bath and body products and not enough real food when you see a stick blender on the Food Network and think, "You can use those for food?" Or when you mix a few pounds of icing in your Kitchenaid for a craft group, and instead of tasting it, I rubbed it on my hand! 

Spoons: Wooden, metal, plastic - spoons have such an important place in our workshop, but we don't talk about them much! I think I mentioned it in the past, but I went to a restaurant supply place and bought 25 for $5 so I always have a clean one nearby. The nice thing about buying cheap spoons? You can throw them out when they start to get bendy or tarnished! 

Forks: Forks also have a place in our workshop! A study found that it was more effective to stir coffee with a fork in a back and forth motion, rather than a stirring motion, so I do this with surfactant based products to integrate the water and surfactants better. I have a large wooden fork, and I bought 25 forks for $5.00 at HY Louie.

Oops, look at the time! I better get ready for work and craft group tonight! The final post on your equipment tomorrow! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creating products: Equipment (part 1)

The more you create, the more it seems you need to buy special equipment for your crafting...but it doesn't have to be that way. I'll give you an idea of which things I feel I really need and which I don't (and I hope you'll chime in with your favourite toys for the workshop)

Scale: This is is essential. I'd suggest getting a digital scale that can weigh to 1 gram. You've seen my scale over the last few days - a grey Escali - but I'm debating getting this one with the glass top because it might be easier to clean. Having said this, I'm worried the glass might not be all that durable. (I find my plastic scales eventually look really dirty with all the oil and things spilled on them over time, hence the wanting something that cleans up easily!)

I have a smaller scale that can weigh down to 0.1 grams for those smaller things like cosmeceuticals or extracts. I've had epoxy scales in the past, but I've purchased a new one from a jewellery shop and I'm pleased with it. I had a scale from London Drugs (click here to see the Salter scale), but it wouldn't work again once I replaced the batteries. My current one as a backlight, an on/off button that actually works, and weighs down to 0.1 gram (I can't find a picture of it, so I'll take one later today!). I've only had it two weeks, so I'm not comfortable recommending it, but it was $16.99 (as opposed to the $40 everyone seems to want) and it takes AAA batteries instead of those expensive button batteries. So I'm a fan so far. 

Pipettes: I love these things! I buy them in packs of 100 from Aquarius Aroma & Soap (although you can get them from various locations, like Lotioncrafter and Voyageur, and probably a 100 other places). You can find different sizes, and I prefer the 3 ml or 3.5 ml (Lotioncrafter and Aquarius, respectively) because the tube part is larger and I find it easier to read. 

Pipettes are supposed to be one time usage type things, but I have found you can clean them for things like fragrances. Fill a container in the sink full of hot water with dishwashing liquid. Suck the soap up into pipette, then squish it out. Suck up some clean water (warm, preferably) and shake. Do this a few times until you're sure the suds are gone. There! You've cleaned a  pipette!

When I'm crafting, I'll get one for something like hydrolyzed oat protein and either keep it in the bottle or beside the bottle so I'm not using a new one every time I need a bit of oat protein. 

Heating and holding containers: I covered this topic more extensively in this post, but I'll remind you that you want something that is heat resistant and sturdy. Something with a handle is a good thing - but if you want to use a beaker or Mason jar, have some tongs or dish cloth/oven mitt handy to remove the containers from your double boiler. 

Do you know why Pyrex works well against heat? Because it's glass made with soda lime, which is heat resistant and less likely to break. The labware is made with borosilicate glass, which is more resistant to heat, but the soda lime is more resistant to breaking when dropped, which Pyrex considers more important in a household! (Click here for a very defensive statement from Pyrex!)

You don't want to go very hot to very cold or very cold to very hot with a Pyrex (or competitors') container. I regularly go from my double boiler to the freezer for things like lotion bars, but there is a risk your container could shatter. We had this happen in the double boiler once - it just cracked, no shards or anything, but the liquids in the container were ruined! We weren't going very hot to very cold or vice versa, but I think doing that often is what caused the shattering.

Join me tomorrow as we look at other equipment you could use in your workshop! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creating products: Assembling your ingredients - weighing and measuring

When I've prepared my space by cleaning and tidying it up, I get ready to measure!

I like to get some fresh water into my double boiler, then set the dial to the highest setting to get it to the boiling point. (If you want to learn more about my electric fondue pot that I use as a double boiler, click here.) I turn it down when I'm heating and holding, but I like to get it to a rolling boil to start.

Get all your ingredients and containers together. (In cooking, I think this is called mise en place or everything in place.) On my workbench, I tend to organize them into heated water, heated oil, and cool down phases. After use, I tick off the ingredient in my notebook, then put it on the other side of my workbench. This way I know what I've used and what I haven't!

We weigh all our ingredients in bath and body product creation into heatproof containers. Although I love my beaker, I tend to use Pyrex jugs of all sizes because I can't afford to have tons of beakers around. (Although the new shape of the Pyrex jugs are annoying because you can only get one into the double boiler at a time! This will not do!) Mason jars are good as well as they can take more heat. Get a wire ring to put into your double boiler so the jars don't touch the bottom of the container.

Why do we weigh our products? Because it's more accurate! Learn more in this post! And click here for learning how to convert percentages to weights and click here for learning how to convert weights to percentages!

When you've measured out your various phases, it's time to put your containers into the double boiler and heat and hold. But wait...let's take a moment to review some equipment you might consider buying for crafting fun! Join me tomorrow for that topic!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Creating products: Assembling your ingredients - preparing your space

I'm not an organized woman, but I think I'm doing okay in the workshop. I have all my ingredients organized into different bins. If you look at at this picture, on the bottom row (from left to right) I have boxes of surfactants, oils, extracts and hydrosols, other ingredients, and powdered ingredients that aren't salts (they are in the box on the second to last row on the right). On the second shelf from the top I have my box of solid oils (babassu, coconut, virgin coconut oil) and my box of butters (shea, cocoa, mango, and so on). This organization might make sense only to me, but I'm the only one who has to know where everything is! (I have a few other boxes and those consist of things I just bought, things I want to use, and things I want to keep in my line of sight because otherwise I'll forget to use them, and a cupboard of fragrances and colours!)

The other shelves are really messy because I have a ton of Pyrex jugs and plastic jugs and wooden spoons and molds and other supplies I use for craft group, but otherwise everything has a home.

When you get into your working space, make it clean and tidy. Get the things you need close by - paper towels, spoons, mixing devices, scale, pipettes, thermometers - and make sure you have your notebook open and a pen right next to it.

For cleaning, some people insist on an as-close-to-sterile as possible workspace. This means cleaning the counter and equipment with alcohol and ensuring all the utensils and containers are newly washed. For some people, using a finger to scrape things off a spoon into a tin can is adequate (click here for video - and no, I don't know what bee's oil might be! Whatever you see in this video, do the exact opposite in your own workshop and you'll be just fine!) Wearing plastic gloves is always a good idea and goggles can be very useful as well. A lovely apron or lab coat will protect your clothes, but I always make a point of wearing an old shirt and shorts as well as my apron because at some point, I will get greasy! (Yes, I buy Spray & Wash and OxyClean in bulk!)

I've put down some spare pieces of laminate flooring on my workbench to make it easier to clean, and I have a glass cutting board on top of that (easier to clean up!). I've got one of those anti-fatigue mats on the floor, so I can remove it and clean it off when it gets covered in those inevitable spills!

Cleanliness is essential, but tidiness isn't. I've found, though, that having your workspace organized and free of clutter is a good thing. You'll find fewer things are knocked over, and you'll have more space to do everything you want to do! I might be the Queen of Clutterdom, but I can't stand having my wonderful and useful counter space taken up with stuff! 

My mom is laughing as I write this as I really am the reigning monarch of messiness. I'm a flat surface abuser who tends to be more floor-ganized than organized, and I'm telling you about the dangers of clutter! I think I might have to find her some kind of medication because she's rolling around the floor now, holding her sides, trying to breathe as she does that thing with her hands that women always do when we're laughing really hard saying, "Stop, stop. Too much!" Wow, I didn't think she'd find it THIS funny! 

Create a cool down and filling space. We don't think or talk about this part of making products much, but when you've finished one project and want to get into a second one, that 8 cup Pyrex jug of lotion will get in your way! Find a flat clean space, and put your product there to cool with a dishcloth or other fabric thing loosely draped over the top. (I don't use plastic wrap because I don't want condensation plus I really hate plastic wrap! It's never easy to get off the roll and it clings to itself. Nope, I use a nice clean towel that I can use again and again!) Don't put your product into the fridge when it's warm as you run the risk of heating up your fridge! Clean this space, if necessary.

Prepare this space as well. Get your bottles ready with funnels or other filling things nearby, and make sure you have paper towels handy. Make sure the space is easy to wipe down if/when you spill.

Join me tomorrow for some helpful hints on the weighing and measuring of our ingredients!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Creating products: Assembling your ingredients - obtaining supplies

The second step in creating products is to assemble and weigh your ingredients into the proper containers. Let's take a look at obtaining our ingredients in this post.

Where can you buy ingredients? At a bath & body product retailer, of course!

I'm fortunate in that I have three retailers within driving distance - Suds & Scents, Aquarius Aroma & Soap, and Voyageur Soap & Candle - and another with overnight delivery by post - Soapcraft. If you can, I really recommend having a supplier you can visit in person. I know this isn't possible for some of you, but if you have the choice between mail order and saving a few dollars or getting to know your local retailer and spending slightly more, I'd go with the local retailer every time. It's not just about supporting your local, but you'll have someone with whom you can discuss new ingredients and recipes and someone who can offer advice on that recipe that tanked. (And let's be honest, most of the people in your life will get that glazed look when you start going on about cationic polymers or fatty alcohols, but you can always count on your local supplier to get just as excited as you are!)

If you aren't sure where to find ingredients, check out the these posts with the information kindly provided by readers like you! (Look under frequently asked questions on the right hand side of the page for permanent linkage.)

Where to get supplies in Asia?
Where to get supplies in America? 
Where to get supplies in Australia/New Zealand?
Where to get supplies in Canada? 
Where to get supplies in Europe? 

What ingredients should you consider as a newbie bath & body products crafter? If you want to make lotions, I recommend getting the following...
  • an emulsifier - an easy to use, all in one emulsifier, like Polawax or e-wax (although I recommend Polawax as it tends to be more forgiving than any of the e-waxes. I hate to recommend it as I'm mad at Croda, but it really is good for beginners). If you think you'll be making hair care products, BTMS-50 is a good choice as well (but it does make for a drier feeling lotion and some of us - including me - aren't big fans of that!) 
  • a thickener - something like cetyl alcohol or stearic acid. These aren't expensive ingredients, so if you want to buy a little of each, that's not a bad thing. (I think each of them is about $6 a pound? I do know they are often the least expensive ingredients we use!) 
  • a broad spectrum preservative - this is not optional. I won't go into my preservatives speech here, but if I suspect any of you are leaving out the preservative, you will hear it yet again! 
  • a humectant - glycerin is a great choice as it's inexpensive and effective, but there are others like sodium lactate, sodium PCA, and honeyquat. 
  • an anti-oxidant - something like Vitamin E or ROE (rosemary oleo extract). This is kind of optional as you won't be making huge batches of product that will sit around for up to a year. 
  • a few oils and a butter - click here for some of my recommendations or click here for the listing for all the oils I've reviewed
  • bottles and jars - you will need these for packaging your products. You can't re-use containers because the oils might go rancid, so you'll want to order a few bottles (maybe some with pumps, some with disc caps, some with turret caps - the choices are endless!) and jars to ensure you have a lovely, clean environment for your amazing creations! 
Warning: Looking at packaging can be addictive. You will spend hours pondering how your creation would look in a cosmo oval or boston round, pump vs. disc cap, clear vs. coloured, and frosted vs. clear. Seriously consider the cost of shipping if you're ordering packaging from far away sites. Bottles generally come in huge containers, and I have found that you can spend up to the cost of the packaging on the postage or delivery costs! So beware! 

You can go out and buy extracts and proteins and silicones and all kinds of wonderful ingredients, but these are the basics for a lotion.

So you've got your ingredients - now what? Join me tomorrow for more on assembling your ingredients for product creation! Any suggestions to add to this post? Please comment and share your experiences and thoughts!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm on the TV!

Hey, ma! I'm on the TV! How exciting is that? My local TV station came to interview me about my love of cosmetic chemistry and our youth programs, and this is the result! I think this link should work - click on cosmetic chemist when you get there - but let me know if it doesn't!

In case you're wondering, I'm making the liquid conditioner recipe you can find here. If you've never experienced the joys of seeing emulsification happen, you'll see it in this video! 

Creating products: Choosing your recipe

Choosing which recipe to make can often be the hardest part of creating products. I can spend hours in the workshop looking at my ingredients, thinking about what I could make with those lovely new esters or surfactants, doing an inventory of what I need to make for my personal needs or for gift giving, and before I know it, it's time to go to work! So I always try to have an idea of what I want to make before I get into the workshop! 

What are you going to make? Are you in the mood to play with surfactants or do you want to make a lotion? Do you want a hand, foot, or body lotion? Do you want a thick, buttery cream or a light moisturizer?

What kind of lotion do you want to make? Click here for a post on that topic
How do you define a lotion, body butter, cream, or moisturizer? Click here for more! 

Let's say you've finally decided that you want a thick, greasy body butter to fight your dry, flaky elbow skin - where do you find a recipe and how do you know that it's a recipe that will work?

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I'd like to suggest that you might find some recipes you might like on this blog. I think I've created for almost every type of product - except for a successful eye cream, CP soap, and a bubble bar - and I hope they can be considered good recipes. For instance, here's my basic body butter recipe that we can modify like silly to suit your needs and your supplies. 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs offering recipes for bath and body products. Some are good, some are great, and some scare me. Take everything you see with a grain of salt and ask yourself a few questions before spending your time and supplies to make that recipe. 

How can you tell if you have found a good recipe? Click here for my checklist

If you're an experienced bath and body crafter, you could create your own recipe! Here's a link to the start of the learning to formulate lotions series with a ton of links to help you out. If you're a newbie, here's a post on why I don't think you should formulate your own recipes until you have more experience. 

Your supplier is always a good resource for recipes. My favourite recipes tend to come form Lotioncrafter, The Herbarie, and Voyageur Soap & Candle. I also like the Majestic Mountain Sage blog and The Soap Queen blog for ideas. 

One of the down sides of using suppliers' recipes is that they often use ingredients we don't have at home. What can you do? Substitute your ingredients for the suggested ones! (Click here for the posts on substitutions.) This is one of the reasons I harp on and on and on about knowing your ingredients. You don't have to buy a ton of new oils to create that body butter recipe! You can use what you have and still make something great! (Here's an example of how to modify a lotion with ingredients you have on hand.) 

Learn your INCI names (click here and here)! Many suppliers will change the name of their ingredients to reflect the philosophy for their company, and the easiest way to waste money is to order the same ingredient from two or three different suppliers and not realize you've done it! (And yes, there might be a test so study hard!) 

I've tried to organize information on ingredients on this blog by category. So click here for the emollients, here for the extracts, here for surfactants, and here for preservatives. (Look to your right for the permanent links!) As well, you can find information on various ingredients on the right hand side of the blog. 

When you're crafting, make notes. Make lots of notes. Make more notes than you think you need, then write some more. For products that might be affected by heat or humidity, write the temperature and weather. Write down the type of mixer you used - hand mixer with whisks, hand mixer with beater, Kitchenaid, stick blender, spoon, and so on. Write down everything you think might be relevant. 

The way to successfully tweak a product is to make many many many notes so you know what you want to do next time. Get a fantastic notebook or binder for the workshop (you don't want to be jabbing away at an iPod touch or iPad or other computery thing when you're covered in oils and other liquids) and create a file on your computer for all those observations you'll be making when things are bubbling and mixing. If you know what you did right or wrong this time, it makes it easier to create an awesome product next time! 

To sum it all up...
1. Choose a recipe you know works well from someone you trust.
2. Substitute those ingredients you don't have with those you do. 
3. Make lots and lots of notes! 

Join me tomorrow for some thoughts on measuring our ingredients. 

Creating products - an overview

I've had a few days to lie in bed and think about what I could be doing if I wasn't ill, and I got to thinking about lotions. I think I can break the lotion making process into six stages - choosing the recipe, assembling and weighing the ingredients, heating and holding the ingredients, combining the two phases, adding the cool down ingredients, and choosing my packaging. I thought I'd spend a few days going over each of these steps, adding links and encouraging you to share your thoughts in the comment section.

As a note, when it comes to other products - say, a shampoo - you'd still work through all those phases, but you wouldn't be concerned with something like emulsification. 

Join me in a few minutes for step 1 - choosing your recipe!

Links to the posts in this series...

Choosing your recipe! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A few days off

With the return to school, we get the return of all things contagious, and, as usual, I'm the first to get everything! I'm down for a few days with what I think is the stomach flu. If you donate to our groups, it might take me a bit to email the e-books as I'm stuck in bed and sleeping a lot. If you email or comment, again, please be patient. Look for new posts on Saturday or Sunday!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thoughts for a not-so-warm Tuesday morning

I haven't had time to write up posts for this week, so you're going to get things off the top of my head for the next few days! Sorry! 

Fellow enjoyers of sewing - When did we stop calling ourselves "sewers" and started using the word "sewist"? According to WordSpy, in 1964. I don't care how old the word might be, sewist just sounds silly. And yes, I grant you that sewer might look like sewer (as in where waste water goes), but sewist? There's something really weird about that word. I've tried saying it a few times, but it just sounds wrong. Sewist. I don't know - I'm not going to use it!

How do you know which preservative to choose for your product? In general, you'll want a broad spectrum preservative (one that fights bacteria, fungus, and yeast) and something suitable for the application at hand. If you have a lotion, shampoo, or anything else with water, you'll choose one suitable for water containing applications. If you have an anhydrous product, like a scrub, you'll choose one suitable for anhydrous products. Here's the handy dandy chart on preservatives I've created to help you make those choices!

So what're you making this week? Are you planning out your Christmas gifts yet? I'm hoping to get into the workshop on Saturday and make some shampoo bars (one left!) and a ton of body wash!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why we don't heat & hold in the same container

This question came up in yesterday's post about mixing - why don't we heat and hold in the same container? Here's a post I wrote on the topic just before Christmas last year. The summary? We use separate containers to get better emulsification and less artificial emulsification.

Sorry for the short post today, but I have a ton of things to get done before work/school this week, like making granola bars, inari (to freeze), clothes washing, and so on. I was supposed to get it done yesterday, but we offered a craft group in the morning and went swimming in the afternoon! Then I slept for 12 hours, which has really messed up perspective on time! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Questions about mixing

In the small batch post, Annette asked: The problem I have is with the mixing - The oil phase is so small, it starts to re-solidify really fast! Also, what do you use to mix the small batches? I have tried just about everything but a hand whisk! Any tips for the mixing phase?

Before we get to the mixing ideas, please make sure you have heated and held your lotion phases for 20 minutes. Unless you're in my unheated workshop in the winter where it can get to -11˚C, your oil phase should have lots of time before it starts to solidify! If you are heating and holding and this is still happening, please give me some details because this is really strange.

I make a lot of small batches and I rarely use a stick blender, although a lot people swear by them. I find they're a pain to clean and my husband generally likes to keep them for food! I prefer my Black & Decker hand mixer with the regular mixing attachments and whisk attachments. I bought another one - Hamilton Beach - that comes with mixers that have silicone covers and one whisk attachment. Both were about $25 from Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart, respectively.

I know there are people who swear by stick blenders and others who swear by mixers, and although there some science behind the shear and speed and all of that, it really doesn't become a huge issue for lotion making unless you're into all kinds of strange emulsions or gels. My personal preference is for a mixer!

In the picture above, I'm using spoons and I do that for things like shampoo bars. For my surfactants, I always use a fork. There was a study a while ago - sorry, can't find the link - that going back and forth with a fork is more effective for stirring than going in circles with a spoon. I've been doing this for a while and I find it lessens the amount of bubbles in the product. I even have a large wooden spoon for those really big batches around Christmas time! 

Wendy had a similar question: It is very difficult to mix small batches. I have been searching for a stick blender with a disk-like attachment like one of those milk frother things but with more power. So far I find the easiest way is to use a milkshake mixer because you can lift the cup up high so the mixer reaches the very bottom. I bought one from Walmart for $20. I also was having the problem of the oil phase solidifying so I heat the stainless steel cup with oil phase in it and pour the water phase into the oil. I know lots of people say you are supposed to add the oil phase to the water phase but so far I have not had any problems. Do you think it matters which way you put the phases together?

Thanks for the great idea, Wendy! I've been looking for something like that for making emulsions with Sucragel emulsifier. I really don't like the emulsifier for lotions, but I've been dying to make the oily gel into a scrub or intense moisturizer.

As for adding the water phase to the oil phase and the oil phase to the water phase, on the surface we don't notice much of a difference. But under the surface, there are some differences. (Click here for the post on phase inversion.) For years, I added the oil phase to the water phase because the water phase container was generally larger than the oil phase container and it made more sense. I had exactly two lotion fails during that time: The first was because I didn't have the water and oil phase at the same temperature, and I forgot to put emulsifier in the second one. Neither seems to have been because I put the oil phase into the water phase. It worked, but it could have failed. If you're using an ethoxylated emulsifier - Polawax or e-wax, for instance - then the water phase into the oil phase will make for a more stable emulsion. If you're using a non-ethoxylated emulsifier, then it doesn't really matter.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with questions! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Questions about heating vessels

A few questions came out of yesterday's post on evaporation!

What are the jars in this picture? These are 500 ml wide mouth mason jars (okay, technically they're Bernardin 500 ml wide mouth jars, but you get the idea). I find they are a great choice because I can cram quite a few of them into my awesome double boiler and they are designed to take the heat. I will warn you, though, they can break if you let them touch the bottom of your pot for too long, so get yourself a $2 wire rack they can sit on the bottom on what jars would consider luxury and they'll last longer.

This is a great time of year to get boxes of jars on sale. I suggest them for both heating and holding your products as well as storage. Get some of those plastic lids and you have a nice storage system for your lotions and potions. (Just be careful using glass around the bathtub!)

As an aside, have you seen the new Pyrex jug shape? They're trying to emulate the OXO slanty ones that make it possible to see the measurements through the container. I like them for cooking, but they are awful for product making as I can only get one of them into the pot! So more Mason jars for me! 

What is the appliance in this picture? This is a Rival electric fondue pot. I fill it up with water, put the switch to 400˚F until it's boiling, then reduce it and heat my ingredients in it. It's awesome because I'm not tied to the stove and I can control the temperatures. As you can see, it's not small - no, no, no! - as it can contain an 8 cup (2 litre) Pyrex jug easily.

This is a great time of year to be able to purchase one of these as they seem to more plentiful around Christmas. I have three of them - two for making products and one for actual fondue (do-it-yourself tempura party at my place!). I think they're about $45 and I think my family bought my last one at London Drugs, but I've seen them at Home Outfitters, Linens & Things (I think they're gone now?), Bed, Bath & Beyond, and larger retailers like that. I have scoured the thrift stores for something like this, but I have never ever found one.

They're non-stick, so you could actually heat a shampoo bar in the pot instead of using the double boiler or water method, but there's all that cleaning up to do of the pot before you can move on to the next project instead of just cleaning one container while another project is heating and holding!

Is it just me or does every Simpsons' fan call it Bloodbath & Beyond? I can't help myself! 

Why do you have three things heating in the pot? I'm not really sure. I'm guessing one was for a different project because I don't think I've ever had three phases for the heating phase! There's the oil phase, the water phase, and the ??? phase here. I think I set it up to take this picture. Just like I wouldn't heat and hold with the spoons in the container. At the very least, the spoons get really really hot!

Join me tomorrow for more question-y fun!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Question: Evaporation!

Tara made a great comment in response to yesterday's question about why some of my lotion recipes are so thickI used to agree that your recipes came out awfully thick, but then I learned to account for evaporated water. I now make sure my vessels that contain my ingredients for heating weigh the same before AND after heating. I make up the difference with distilled water that has been heated and held.

If you're not compensating for water amount, you will get a thicker lotion than you expected! Let's say you need a grand total of 70% water in your lotion. If you heat and hold for 20 minutes, you might end up with a total of 60% water in your your lotion and that's going to make for a much thicker lotion! So make sure you measure your water phase with container at the start of the heating and holding process and the end, and add enough heated water to get back to the number you need in the recipe.

And this relates to this question from Always Looking 4 1 More (from this post): I love formulating but I've been trying to keep my formulating (and my life) as healthy as possible. So I'm wondering how much of the "good stuff" that we use many natural oils, aloes, etc. for is retained in it after we heat & hold for 20 mins. or so? It seems the "good stuff" will all be destroyed and all we have left is a product that just "feels good and smells delightful". Are we inadvertently sending nutrients out into the air while trying to kill different kinds of germs and germ-causing elements in the oils and waters (eg, aloe)?

We've addressed the question of possible goodness loss in oils in this post, but let's summarize that before moving on to the water soluble ingredients Most oils have a smoke point well over 100˚C (for instance, grapeseed oil is around 216˚C and camellia seed oil is around 485˚F!), and we're heating our products up to 70˚C/158˚F and holding them, so the oils will be just fine. Yes, we might speed up rancidity slightly, though not by much. We aren't ruining any polyphenols or phytosterols or lovely fatty acids or hurting the oil in any way. On the other hand, not heating and holding our oils can have a huge impact on the emulsification of the product, and a failed lotion is definitely something that can ruin our oils and waste our money!

As for the water phase, the only things we add to the heated phases are things that can stand the heat! Anything that can't stand the heat goes into the cool down phase, which is at 45˚C or 113˚F. We aren't boiling our ingredients, and any evaporation we experience will be from the water portion of the lovely ingredient (every liquid ingredient has some water in it!). We are ending up with a more concentrated of the ingredient (for instance, aloe or a hydrosol), which isn't a bad thing. (Although we should add the water back to the product, so it'll all even out in the end.)

If you're really worried about things going out into the air - although I can't think of anything other than water and some smells - you can put a lid on your container, but just watch it to ensure that your ingredients stay around 70˚C or 158˚F. (Don't put the lid or plastic wrap on tightly!) This will also reduce the amount of evaporation in the product.

The good stuff we want from our ingredients include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, phytosterols, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and more, and those things are either heat tolerable or not. Something like panthenol wants to be added at the cool down phase because it can't tolerate heat, whereas aloe vera can.

If you're in doubt as to whether your ingredient can stand the heat, click here for some ideas on when to add our products to the various phases! And here are two posts on evaporation - surface area and evaporation and compensation for evaporation when making products!

And keep the questions and comments coming by commenting on a post or writing to me, Swift, at sjbarclay@telus.net! I'll do my best to get to your question in the coming days!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Question: Organic products and preservatives

In this post about preserving scrubs, Drei said...i think its better that there should be no preservatives. in my opinion, one there is a preservative in one's product it just make it less organic. thus there is also a some effects if you put some preservatives in it. that is why some people get allergies.

I appreciate your opinion, but I think I'd rather have a well preserved and safe product that uses 0.5% to 1% of a proven, broad spectrum preservative than an organic product that could be contaminated the moment I open it. Some people are allergic to preservatives, but I would argue that the small chance of an allergic reaction to a small amount of preservative is preferable to exposing someone I care about to contaminants that could cause serious health effects.

Besides, an organic product needs only to be 95% organic, so you could use a good preservative at 0.5% and still have something that is organic, but you'd have something that is both organic and safe. (Although the word organic is thrown around so much, it's really a useless descriptor these days!)

I know there is some debate around preserving scrubs, but if you're going to add water to a product - even water from your hand (or should I say especially if it's water from your hand!) - you need a preservative. I don't think you can really go wrong with a good, broad spectrum preservative in a product that might not need it! If you give the product to a friend and they have a reaction, then try another preservative. I'd rather have a friend suffer an allergic reaction to a safe, well preserved product than feel the guilt of having exposed them to some sort of contamination that could have long term health effects (or, worse yet, if you're selling products, having them sue you!). 

Question: What exactly is a lotion?

Kat wrote to me to ask these questions: I have made several of the lotion recipes you've posted on your site. They are all wonderful, to be sure. However, I'm confused because every single one has come out too thick to pour. I define lotion as being pourable. Am I wrong? In fact, I've altered (to experiment) the recipes, reducing the butter amounts gradually (while increasing water) and have found that even at 3% butter, it's still too thick to pour. I've come to the conclusion that including any butter at all will make a cream rather than a lotion. Am I wrong? I have yet to make a pourable lotion (except for a facial formula which, of course, contained no butter). Can you offer any advice here? Thanks!

Dictionary.com defines a lotion as "a liquid cosmetic, usually containing agents for soothing or softening the skin, especially that of the face or hands."

A lotion is an emulsified creation, meaning something that contains water, emollient(s), and an emulsifier used as a moisturizing product. That is to say that a lotion is anything that we consider an oil-in-water or water-in-oil product. A facial moisturizer so thin it pours like water and a body butter so thick you can't get it out of the container are both lotions. That cold cream your mom used to use - a water-in-oil creation - and that sunscreen you put on last weekend are both lotions. There isn't a hard and fast rule about what should be considered a body butter, facial moisturizer, hand lotion, and so on, except that they are all lotions.

We have our own definitions of what should be considered a body butter - something very thick that I have to scoop out of a jar - or a facial moisturizer - something I can squeeze out of a small bottle with a disc cap - but these are subjective ideas. And don't get me started on creams, cremes, or hydrators! 

You're right about the butters thickening our products. The quickest way to make a pumpable lotion into a body butter is to substitute some of the oils for butters and the quickest way to turn a body butter into a pumpable lotion is to remove the butters, but butters aren't the only thickeners! For instance, I make a hand lotion with 60% water, 5% butters, and 13% oils that is easy to squeeze out of a malibu or tottle container.

But also consider your thickeners. What emulsifier are you using? What fatty alcohols - cetyl, cetearyl, behenyl - or fatty acids - stearic acid - or esters - cetyl esters - are you using in the formula? I can make a recipe with 10% butter that isn't very thick if I leave all the thickeners out, and I can make a recipe with no butters thicker by using stearic acid or cetyl alcohol. (Here's an example recipe in which I consider what each of these thickeners will bring to the party!)

Click here for more information about using butters in your lotions. Click here for more information about using fatty alcohols, acids, and esters in your lotions. If you want to know more about the different kinds of lotions we can make, click here! And if you want to learn more about making lotions, click here for the start of the learning to formulate series for lotions

So to answer your question - a lotion can be any emulsified product and isn't necessarily something you can pour. You can reduce the viscosity of the lotion by decreasing the butters, increasing the water, or reducing the thickeners. (I go over all of these things in the learning to formulate series, hence the not-so-in-depth answer here!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ecocert preservatives - kind of a wrap up

I hope you've enjoyed this look at three Ecocert preservatives - Leucidal, Advanced Leucidal - Aloe, and NataPres. I think my general apprehension about using these preservatives are threefold - they have short shelf lives, they are far more expensive than the preservatives I generally use now (liquid Germall Plus, Germaben II, and Phenonip), and they seem to have more restrictions.

The short shelf life worries me a lot because I might buy something today and not use it for a few months (hey, life gets really busy at times!), and I really don't want to worry about the shelf life of my preservative, of all things! If I buy it today, the longest shelf life my products could possibly have is a year, and that concerns me.  

I don't want to have to combine my preservative with another preservative to ensure it works. And I don't have the money to spend on really expensive preservatives. 

My other concern is that I want more solid information on the preservatives from the manufacturers and there seems to be less information than I'd like (for instance, can we use the Leucidals with cationic ingredients or not?) I don't know if the information is out there, but I couldn't get much even going to the manufacturer's site. (And what I've found, I've shared with you!) 

I know Ecocert preservatives they probably sound more appealing if you're a company, but I make my products for fun and my loved ones, so for me, I don't think I'm changing over any time soon.

So, Katie, to sum it all up - yes, there are Ecocert preservatives that seem to be effective. Are they natural? I don't know what that means any more, but these three apparently meet the Ecocert standards, so that might be the same thing? 

Preservatives: NataPres (Ecocert)

NataPres is an Ecocert preservative I found at Lotioncrafter. I purchased it, but haven't used it, and that's primarily because of the need for a secondary preservative.

INCI: Glycerin (and) Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate (and) Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract (and) Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Extract (and) Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract (and) Gluconolactone.

NataPres is a water soluble preservative that should be added in the cool down phase at 50˚C or lower. It is good against gram positive and gram negative bacteria, but the company suggests you add a little something more if you want to boost its efficacy against fungi and yeast, so it's not considered a broad spectrum preservative. (Click here for information on what beasties might live in our products!) Its suggested usage is 0.5% to 3% in the cool down phase of your product. Keep the sealed container of preservative away from sunlight, and I'd suggest keeping the finished product in an opaque container just to be safe.

We know about the leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate because we've been talking about Leucidal for the past two days, and it's the main preservative in that product (click here and here). Honeysuckle extract is interesting because it contains natural parabens, but it may not be as effective a preservative as once thought (click here and scroll down a bit for those links). The gluconolactone is added to be a chelating and sequestering ingredient (like EDTA), a free radical scavenger, and a moisturizer that is on par with about 2% glycerin. (This isn't to say that the gluconolactone will behave this way in your product.)

The Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract comes from the quaking or trembling aspen, and it can be found on its own as Natricide (click for data sheet from Lotioncrafter). In this product, you'd find it at 54% to 60%, whereas in this product you'l find it at a maximum of 20%.

I find the ratios of ingredients in this preservative interesting. The glycerin is listed at 60% to 70%, the radish ferment filtrate at 20% to 25%, with the next three extracts listed at 1% to 20%, with the gluconolactone listed last 0.01% to 10%. If we do the math, if we have glycerin at the least at 60% and the radish ferment filtrate at 20%, we only have 20% left for the honeysuckle and aspen extracts. So what is the main preservative here? It appears to be the radish root filtrate, but this product doesn't promise to be as broad spectrum as the Leucidal products - and it's from the same manufacturer - so I'm feeling a bit confused. Is it the glycerin that makes it less effective? I really don't know.

A big down side of this preservative is the need to keep it in an opaque container away from the sun. It reminds me a bit of working with Tinosan. The other big down side is the need for another preservative that is better with fungi and yeast. You might consider using an organic acid like potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate as a secondary preservative, or something like Optiphen. But I don't think those things are Ecocert, so you might have a problem there.

If you want to know more about this preservative, click here for a really extensive PDF from Lotioncrafter.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Preservatives: Liquid Leucidal (Ecocert)

Please read this post I wrote on this preservative as there are some concerns that it might not work well or at all. I know the appeal of natural can be very strong, but if it's on par with using no preservatives, we are putting ourselves and our loved ones at risk for all kinds of gross stuff! 

I have to be very clear that I cannot in good conscience suggest this preservative. Look at that linked post for more information. If you want to use it, I can't stop you, but I don't suggest it. I have left this post here because I hope you will take a look at the evidence against it and make your own decisions. Plus, if I take it down, people will ask about it and I don't want to have to answer the same question every week! 

Yesterday we took a look at Advanced Aloe Leucidal - today let's take a look at Liquid Leucidal as an Ecocert preservative.

Liquid Leucidal
INCI: Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate

From Lotioncrafter: "Derived from radishes fermented with Leuconostoc kimchii, a lactic acid bacteria that has traditionally been used to make kimchi, this product consists of an isolated peptide that is secreted from the bacteria during the fermentation process that has been shown to have antimicrobial benefits."

Liquid Leucidal is a water soluble broad spectrum preservative best used at under 70˚C (cool down phase) at 2% to 4%. It may not be compatible with some cationic ingredients, so be careful using this in hair care products (conditioners, leave-in conditioners, shampoos with cationic polymers), body care products in which you might be using cationic polymers, or lotions in which you might use BTMS.

A disclaimer about this last sentence: I wasn't able to confirm the information about incompatibility with cationic ingredients anywhere but the Herbarie. We saw yesterday that Advanced Aloe Leucidal was incompatible with some cationic ingredients, but that doesn't mean that this product is incompatible with cationic ingredients, too. I would expect the data sheets from the company (see below) to provide some information on incompatibilities, and I didn't find anything about avoiding cationic ingredients, so use them at your own risk. In my experiments, I avoided cationic ingredients - primarily cationic polymers - just to be on the safe side. 

The company claims that 1% liquid Leucidal can increase moisturization of our skin by 10% thanks to the isolated peptide.

This preservative would be suitable for all your products that contain water, although I recommend that you ensure your product is at 45˚C or lower before including it in the cool down phase. I tried it with lotions and twice the product seized horribly (once at 50˚C, the other at 52˚C). I've tried it with Polawax and Ecomulse (aka Ritamulse) and found no difference (in the ones that didn't seize, but that was a temperature thing).

I've tried it with a body wash and a bubble bath and found no problems in incorporating it into the cool down phase. So far, all of these products show no visible contamination.

Here's the data sheet on this product from Lotioncrafter! And here's a data sheet with information on the moisturizing properties of just 1% of liquid Leucidal. And here's a Powerpoint presentation with some sample formulae.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at Nata-Pres, another Ecocert preservative!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Preservatives: Advanced Aloe Leuicdal (Ecocert)

In this post, Katie posed this question: I also read that you do not consider there to be any natural preservative. Your post was from a little while ago, so maybe you have changed your thoughts on this? 

I should clarify that sentence - there are "natural"* preservatives, but I have yet to find one comparable to something like liquid Germall Plus. Each one I've looked at - and I admit that I've only been looking at those from Lotioncrafter or the Herbarie - have down sides or restrictions that make it impossible to use the preservative with more than a few products I make. Don't use in a product over pH 6, don't expose to light, don't use with cationic ingredients, don't freeze, and so on. On top of this, they all cost far more than the conventional preservatives like liquid Germall Plus, Germaben II, Phenonip, and so on.

Although having written this I realize that everything will have some kind of restriction. I guess I'm just hindered more by the three preservatives I write about below than I would be with liquid Germall Plus.

May I rant for a moment? One of the things I find with the natural movement is an unwillingness to follow good manufacturing practices like heating and holding our products (I'm not saying everyone does it, but when I see suppliers who recommend heating our lotion phases in a microwave, I start to get worried!) I'm really confused as to why this might be because it's a great way to ensure the products will last over time and not subject ourselves, our loved ones, and possibly our customers to unsafe products. If you follow good manufacturing processes, you'll make a very good lotion that will not need the maximum levels of preserving to avoid contamination!

*Footnote: As you well know, my wonderful readers, I have no idea how to define natural any more, so for the purposes for this discussion, I'm going with ingredients that are Ecocert.

Advanced Aloe Leucidal or Aloe Advanced Leucidal or Leucidal Advanced Aloe
INCI Water (and) Leuconostoc/Aloe barbadensis Leaf/ Sorbus Aucuparia Fruit Ferment Filtrate - click here for link at Lotioncrafter.

Water soluble, so not for use with oil only products like sugar scrubs or lotion bars. Recommended usage at 2% to 4% in the cool down phase (4% for really hard to preserve products) with a shelf life of 12 months. It has a pH range of 3 to 8 but works best with ingredients that have a pH of 6 or less.

This preservative is compatible with most non-ionic emulsifiers (like Polawax), cationic emulsifiers (like BTMS-50), and anionic and amphoteric surfactants, but isn't compatible with strongly anionic surfactants or emulsifiers or xanthan gum. It may or may not be compatible with Ritamulse SCG (known as Ecomulse at Lotioncrafter and Natramulse at the Herbarie), and isn't compatible with Plantamulse liquid (INCI Sorbitan Laurate (and) Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate (and) Dilauryl Citrate), Plantamulse pastilles (INCI Polyglyceryl-3 Methyglucose Distearate), or Sugarmulse (INCI Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Cetearyl Glucoside), according to the Herbarie's listing for this ingredient. Lotioncrafter notes there can be some instability over time with Ritamulse SCG/Ecomulse/Natramulse, but doesn't note it is incompatible.

My experience? (Remember, anecdotes don't make data, but I thought I'd share my opinion.)
This really doesn't work well with lotions if the product isn't ultra mega super cooled when you add it. I tried it a few times at 50˚C, and the lotion seized within a 30 seconds, whereas waiting until it reached 40˚C resulted in a non-failed lotion. The product claims to be heat stable, but I really didn't find that to be the case.

I did try this in a body wash with my normal surfactants (cocamidopropyl betaine, DLS mild, C14-16 olefin sulfonate) and in a body wash with polyglucose/lactylate blend and decyl glucoside and so far it's holding up (it's been since early June, so 3 months and no visible contamination in either bottle). Because I used a lot of aloe vera, lavender hydrosol, and chamomile extracts, I used the preservative at 3% to ensure good preservation.

If I were to use this ingredient as one of my main preservatives, I would use it in lotions with Polawax or other e-wax or BTMS-50 as the emulsifiers. I wouldn't use it with Ritamulse/Ecomulse/Natramulse because of the possibility of epic lotion failure. To be honest, I really wouldn't use this for lotions. I would keep this for surfactant based products - shampoos, body washes, bubble bath, facial cleansers - with a pH of 6 or under

With the body wash I made above with the polyglucose/lactylate blend, I started with a pH of 8 and had to bring it down slowly by adding citric acid at 0.2% at a time. If you were to use a recipe like this one, 6.51 isn't low enough, so you'd want to add another 0.1% or so citric acid to ensure you had a pH below 6.

Click here for a data sheet from the company on Leucidal Advanced - Aloe.

Join me tomorrow for more fun with Ecocert preservatives as we take a look at Leucidal Liquid.