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! 


Gab said...

I don't think this has been mentioned, but I'd just like to confirm, I'm assuming the equipment you use for creating cosmetics should only be used for that purpose and not food?

Also, is there any special consideration for cleaning up, or is just soap and water ok?

Sorry for the dumb questions but it's better to ask than to assume. :)

Katie said...

Is that photo of the beautifully swirled cream from your whisk attachment?? If so, I might have to go out and get a kitchenaid or something!
Gab, I usually keep all of my lotion utensils separate from my food utensils. I sell my products, so I do this to be extra cautious. I keep a whole set of measuring cups, beakers, utensils and blenders just for cosmetic preparation. It's a nuisance, but it is better than risking contamination. I also wash everything on the 2-hour super-hot cycle in the dishwasher.

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

Susan, I was wondering the same thing as Katie. I like the way that swirled butter in the tin looks. Is that a picture of your product? If so, how did you get it to look that way? It looks like you swirled it while it was in the tin.

Gab, I use a separate set of utensils for my products that I don't use on my food. (That's not a dumb question because it is better to ask than to assume).

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thanks for the kind words about my whipped butter. The swirl is from an icing tip - a 1M to be exact - and icing bag. I put the whipped butter into an icing bag and piped it into the tin with a swirl on top. I love my cake decorating supplies for making my products look cute!

I'll address the other questions tomorrow (Saturday) morning!

Newbie said...

Hi Susan,
Great blog! I'm a newbie who's thinking of starting to make my own cosmetics. I asked around and most recommendations were to get a stick blender - I'm interested in body butters though I might do more (shampoo and conditioner) if successful. You seem to favour a mixer but I'm wondering if it's necessary for a newbie who might only be dabbling.
Thanks in advance!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Newbie. There are reasons to get a mixer and reasons to use a stick blender. Check out Sunday, March 2nd's Weekend Wonderings for a longer anwer to your question!

René Beyers said...

Hi Gab -

I think the cream looks fabulous but just for my two cents, I've found a food processor actually works better than a mixer. I drizzle the warm oil into the base with the lid on and processor spinning. My cream turns out fabulous and I'm certain different recipes would have different results… so just some feedback. Also, I have all my equipment 'ring fenced' from the things I use for cooking! Good luck with it and there are NO dumb questions!! :)