Anonymous asked this question: Hi Susan thank you for the wonderful information so generously given here. After reading you post on blending lotions I wonder if I am over stirring my lotions. I have tried manual, stick blending & mixer but always end up with same result: even thought the finished lotion looks smooth when I put in the pots, the next day or so it starts to look like whipped milk cream that has been over whipped, kind of congealing which gets back to smooth texture after a bit of manual stirring but it doesn't stay smooth for long I have to keep on stirring every few days. Hope you can help me solve the mystery, thank you.
This doesn't sound like a mixing issue: It sounds like your lotion has failed. (Click here for the original and entire post.) If you have to keep stirring it to keep it smooth, it means that you don't have an emulsion - you have an oil phase and and a water phase that don't want to stay together.
Remember, we need three things to make an awesome emulsion in our products...
- chemical emulsification - this is where our emulsifier comes in. Pick a good emulsifier and use it at the right percentage!
- heat emulsification - in general, solubility of our ingredients increases when they are heated. Click here for more about the heating and holding phase of our products.
- mechanical agitation of some kind - mixing ingredients so they will stay emulsified.
I think you are. Twenty minutes is a long time and although it doesn't seem like you're ruining your emulsions, you're getting bubbles in them and you're taking a total of 30 minutes to mix a lotion. I'm all for mixing, but 30 minutes - that's time in which I could make something else!!! If your lotions are working well, then try mixing for a shorter period of time - say 5 minutes for the combining phase, 5 minutes for the cool down phase - and see if you have fewer bubbles. If your lotions are staying together through sheer will and mechanical emulsification, you might see some problems. But if you're using a well thought out recipe, you'll be just fine!
Leman writes: Also, my creams froth a lot when I use a milk frother. I mean I can hardly fill 50ml into a 100ml jar and I am thinking I must be doing something wrong or frothing too much or the fact that it is a milk frother!. Any ideas anyone?
I wouldn't use a milk frother to mix your products...it's intended to froth milk, so it's going to mix a ton of air into the product. If you want to mix small batches, consider using a hand mixer with only one beater (I find this works great for my 100 gram batches!) or even mixing by hand (see below)
What's the best way to mix your products?
Lise comments: I feel incredibly old fashioned-- I mix pretty much everything by hand unless I am doing a whipped butter or whipped cream (I have a whipped cream cleanser that I've done for years). Even then I only use a stick blender. I feel I have much better control this way. I also do whipping cream (the kind you eat) by hand too. :)
I love the fact that we have to clarify what whipping cream is to a group of bath & body crafters! Did I tell you about the time I smeared cake icing all over my hand to test if it was done? Yep, I make more products than I do food...but I digress...
melian writes: i use a stick blender, in fact until this blog i didn't realize you could make a successful (long term stable) emulsion without high-shear blending! i also don't spend 10 minutes (or more) with the sb, either. i think that if i continued with the sb until it cools, i'd have whipped cream rather than a nice lotion. i create the emulsion, then let it sit and stir it with a spoon now and then until it is at the temperature i want for whatever i'm doing next. i have discovered that adding eo or fo when it is cooled down is not the best idea, as unless i hit it with the sb again for a couple of minutes, it will sometimes seep out and gather at the top of my tube of lotion (in other words it wasn't emulsified into the lotion). using the sb at cool-down causes all sorts of whipped cream effect and foam and stuff.
And I like to use a mixer - it can get a bit foamy on top if I go a little crazy, so I do it on a slow speed with the beaters, not the whisk attachments. I also like to use a Kitchenaid if I need to do a large batch, but again I do it on a slow speed with the paddle attachment. If I'm making a body mousse or sugar scrub, I'll do it on about level 4 with the whisk attachment and I'll let it go for a while. Some people love the stick or immersion blender - I find it spatters for me, and my husband likes to reserve it for food.
The key to all of this stuff is to read what you can, then get into your workshop and try out what you've learned. It might work, it might not, but you'll learn something in the process! Then come back here and tell us your experiences so we can learn more!
If you're making little batches, I have a few suggestions for mixing...
- It sounds like a milk frother might be small enough, but it adds extra air, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
- When making small batches, find something that works for you, like a hand mixer, stick blender, or mixing by hand (Click here for my post on the topic of small batch production). I can't imagine making something smaller than 100 grams - so much fiddly work and so many places to make mistakes thanks to 0.1 grams more than you intended.
- A tall container - like a beaker - is a better choice than a wide container. I like to use the taller Mason type jars - 250 ml, not wide mouth - to make smaller batches. A shallow container makes it harder to mix.