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! 


Leman said...


Silly question but how do you clean pipettes?!

No idea why pyrex works well agains heat :-(

What would be your order of prefrence? - pyrex, beaker or Mason jar?

My scale is this one for those from UK who might be interested. It has never failed me.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Leman! I've put that information about pipettes and Pyrex in the post. (I set it to post this morning without finishing it, so I had to re-write it before re-posting this morning!!!) I would prefer beaker, Pyrex, Mason jar, but I don't have enough beakers - I need to save up for a few more - so it would have to be Pyrex first every time!

Leman said...

Thanks Susan :-)

mamafrog said...

I hate to ask this, and it may be slightly off topic--this is great information and I'm trying to organize it in my notes so I can find it, but it's confusing when I'm reading and you say go to this post for more information. How about...just a do an ebook and let us donate for it?? I'm not trying to interrupt your flow because this series is really great and I'm getting some good info now on how to do this stuff. It would just be great to eventually have a book with it all collected in it. What do you think?

melian1 said...

i love my little scale from TKB for making tiny test batches. it weighs down to .01 and cost $12.00

Anonymous said...

I use an oral syringe to measure things like oat protein and fragrance. It's sturdier and easier to get an accurate measurement. I get 1 mL and 3 mL ones from a pet pharmacy.

catherine said...

I've found these 15 ml dropper bottles from Brambleberry to be way more convenient than pipettes:

Just pour your liquid extracts, preservatives, etc into these bottles, label, and then dropper away! So much cleaner and faster too. :)

You know, another thing I'm curious about, everybody's workshops! Mine's a humble plastic box with stacked smaller boxes inside it. I can devote only half a cabinet shelf to my supplies in our small galley kitchen in our small condo. Maybe I'll send a pic. :)

It would be fun to drool with envy at everyone else's gleaming rooms with tables and shelving devoted to their supplies and equipment, where they tool away on their lotions... :)