Saturday, October 22, 2011

How do some people manage to get water soluble things - like honey - into anhydrous products?

In this post, Nedeia asks: This topic makes me ask another question: honey in anhydrous products. Yeah, I know, I know, we need an emulsifier, we need a preservative, but there are people out there selling products like honey lip balm. and they swear that the product will not separate. they sell cuticle salves that are quite hard, and no trace of honey on the bottom. And the ingredients are "Natural Beeswax and Honey from our own hives, Shea Butter, Almond Oil and Vitamin E Oil.". now how do they do that? I never managed to incorporate honey with success in such a product. I know it will draw moisture from the air and some day it could ferment. I know the theory.... Are they just lying, or do they have a secret way of mixing? Especially when I know that you should not heat the honey at more than 40 degrees centigrade, if you want to keep any of its properties and not obtain a simple sweetener...

Take a look at this post - Iron Chemist: Sodium lactate - I managed to use sodium lactate in a lip balm and it didn't weep out! Here's the recipe...

5.4% lecithin
2.1% sodium lactate
20% beeswax
25% aloe butter
21% rice bran oil
26.5% fractionated coconut oil

Mix lecithin and sodium lactate together first until well incorporated. Then weigh out the other ingredients into the same container and heat in a double boiler until melted. Pour into lip balm tubes and rejoice.

First, an aside about solubility...We can divide our ingredients into two categories when it comes to solubility. A rule of thumb is "like dissolves like". Water dissolves water soluble things; oil dissolves oil soluble things. Water is polar; oil is non-polar. Adding something like oil to a water based product will lead to the oil pooling on the top. Adding a water soluble ingredient to an oil soluble mixture generally leads to the water based thing weeping out of the product.

There are some ingredients that require alcohol or other solvents, but we aren't going into that in this post! 

To get something to emulsify, we need three things - an emulsifier (the chemical), heat, and good mixing. In this situation, I'm using all three. I've heated my ingredients up to the melting point; I'm using lecithin as my chemical emulsifier; and I'm mixing the product. I think the key to the success of my product is the fact that my water soluble ingredient makes up a small portion of the recipe - sodium lactate at 2% - so I'm able to keep it from separating.

Take for example something like an oil based sugar scrub. If I add sodium lactate (or another water soluble ingredient) to an oil based scrub - like this one here - I will find the water won't mix in and I'll get a little gooey mess on the top of the product. Sure, it will incorporate at first, but eventually we'll see some separation.

But if I use this recipe - this one has lecithin and lanolin in it - I'll be able to incorporate some watery ingredient, like a protein or a humectant, into the mix.

Ingredients like lanolin (click here for a post) can handle some water, and ingredients like lecithin can behave as emulsifiers. When you see an anhydrous product that contains water, look for those ingredients to see if they're using them as emulsifiers. If you don't see those ingredients, then it might be that the company is using a lot of heating and mixing to keep the ingredients in the anhydrous mixture. It could be that they aren't telling the truth and they are using an emulsifier, or it could be that their products will eventually weep out and look awful. (Believe me, this happens more than you would imagine!)

I don't know about not heating honey - do you have some information you can send me? This is intriguing! I use honey in one of my products as a humectant, and I put it into the water phase to heat with the other ingredients for the 20 minutes heating and holding phase. I hate to think I'm wasting those lovely qualities!


Sara @Osmosis said...

I use honey in my lip balm and I do find that it separates out, but it does this before I pour into the tubes. I can see the honey at the bottom of my beaker and I stop pouring when I get to it. My lip balms have the yummy hint of honey. So there is some waste, but I think it's worth it for the sweet taste without using an artificial sweetener.

Lise M Andersen said...

Great post Susan! I've always been wary of using honey in any emulsion or product at all (but am a big fan of using raw honey 'as is' as a face mask). Admittedly, I've never researched it, but seem to have heard that heating honey wasn't the best thing for it. I am now also intrigued and will have to look into this further. Perhaps we can compare notes!

Tara said...

I've also heard that cupuacu butter is good for holding some water as well. I wonder if that's what makes it such a great moisturizer. It seems to me that the better moisturizers, such as lanolin, lecithin and cupuacu butter, all have this attribute; they seem better at moisturizing than oils with this capability do.

Tara said...

Last sentence was supposed to read: *better...than oils WITHOUT this capability do.

Nedeia said...

Hi Susan,

thank you fir dedicating time to write this post!

Indeed, choosing lecithin or lanolin could help us in adding honey to an anhydrous product. Unfortunately, I do not like the smell of lanolin in a lip balm, so I would have to cover it with something else. Unfortunately, the only time when I tried to mix lanolin and honey, all the honey gathered in the mixing bowl forming a blob that simply did not want to be incorporated by the lanolin. And there was quite some lanolin there.

Also, in one of the forums when we talked about honey in a lip balm, people were extremely cautious about using a preservative, because of honey (humectant , drawing moisture, possibility to ferment and so on). The conclusion was that it should be avoided, unless I find a way to preserve it. I did not want to take a chance to put it on the lips of my family and friends having a risk to get a bad product in a few months.

About the guys that seemed to be using honey, I have talked to them, and actually the honey they were talking about was the small quantity of honey that naturally occurs in the wax they use, so there was no extra honey. They have also said to me that it could be a good idea to change their products' description in order to avoid the confusion. That was nice.

About other people using honey - I see many handmade products that claim to have honey in them, and there is no emulsifier whatsoever. and they do not have the proper equipment to mix the product, I know it :). So, one day, their product will leak a bit... but they won't admit it :)

My main concern is related to the fact that , once I put a water soluble ingredient in an anhydrous product, even with an emulsifier like lecithin or lanolin, there is a chance to grow bad stuff in the product. I would hate that. Technical people from other forums tell me I should stay away, better safe than sorry. If it was only for me, I would try it. But if I give it to someone else, family or not, I want to give a safe product, that would not go bad in 3 months .

Unfortunately, I have no studies to show to you about some of the honey's properties going bad when heated over 40C. It's something I grew up with. Now I wonder if this is a fact or not :)). I have only used honey once in an emulsion, and I have added it in the cool down phase, but I believe the temperature was like 50 C. I kept mixing and it did not separate. I have a few friends that are beekeepers, I will drop them the question.

Now, I do have 2 questions related to your post:
1. is sodium lactate safe for using on the lips? I am always licking the lip balms and I would love to use something that will be 100% safe on the lips (even with toddlers, I use my lip balm for my daughter's lips too)

2. I do not have any lecithin available. Is the one you are referring to liquid lecithin or powdered? Is there a difference between the cosmetic grade lecithin and the food grade one? I am asking because I just saw a few days ago some powdered lecithin as a food supplement , and I was thinking to buy it for cosmetic purpose. Should I?

ok, going to treat my hands with a fabulous stiff cream with ... lanolin, scented with some amyris balsamifera essential oil , while reading your post about lanolin .... ah, looking forward to get home and experiment some more!!!!!

zaczarowany pierniczek said...

What an interesting post!
I've been thinking about this probelem too and I've found information that beeswax itself can be an emulsifer, but it is usually combined with lanolin in products with water phase. What does it look like from chemical point of view? Can esters and fatty alcohols or other compounds in beeswax be responsible for ability to emylsify?

p said...

Great post as usual! After reading your series on nail care, I started experimenting with making a balm that contains 35% lanolin and adding a small amount of glycerin (5%) - and I find that every time, the glycerin weeps out of the finished balm! I stir the melted balm like crazy, but even before I pour I can see that the glycerin is starting to settle to the bottom of the Pyrex - sort of similar to Nedeia's experience with honey. :(

At this point, my guess is that for lanolin to emulsify water phase ingredients, we have to provide mechanical emulsification as the balm cools down and the lanolin resolidifies. Is this right? One consequence would be that you can't really make a *balm* like this - it would turn out more like a whipped butter - and you couldn't make a lip balm in a tube, because you'd have to pour the balm into the tube when molten.

I think my guess must be wrong, because Susan's lip balm recipe in this post worked for her!

I am confused, and I'd appreciate any input. Has anyone else tried to use lanolin to incorporate a small amount of a water phase ingredient into a balm (poured while molten)?

M Konnerth said...

I also find this post fascinating! I make a Lanolin skin salve that uses glycerin and BTMS and even with the BTMS - if I'm not stirring like heck as I pour, it will separate. In fact, the last few jars are always lighter in color than the initial ones I'm guessing the percentage of lanolin in those jars is not as high as the first ones poured.
I also make a lip balm with lanolin and honey - altho - no emulsifer and I seem to have better luck pouring it when it's considerably cooler and again - mixing like made inbetween pours. Again, by the end - the remaining honey has sunk to the bottom and is not usable.
I've had some of these lip balms for a year now and no problem with greenies growing.
Will the sodium lactate or lecithin solve the separation issue?

Helen Reynolds said...

Some of the enzymes in honey, invertase and diastase are damaged by heat and time. they can be damaged by low heat over a long time, or by high heat in a short time. So if you are just adding honey for sweetness, the heat isn't a problem. But if you are interested in some of the reputed healing properties of honey, heat is a problem - it's best to keep the heat around below 50 degrees C.
Thanks for the blog, it is great! said...

I am very surprised Ladies to hear that you are using Lanolin in your lip products as it is very drying. It is one of those products that once you start using it as in chap sticks or lanolin hand creams it gives immediate relief from dry skin but within a very short time the skin needs it again. That is why you are always seeing people with their chap sticks re applying. The lanolin occurs naturally on the coat of sheep to keep their skin dry when they have a wet coat. Anybody has any other experience with this?
I am using bees wax and lecithin as my emulsifier and I get a small amount of oil puddleing in the jar after a while. Have tried reducing the oil content- increasing the wax content but without another emulsifier in there I can t change this. I guess that maybe that is price to pay for a really natural product with pure emulsifiers.
Found your article enlightening
Many thanks

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Gaia! I'm not sure what you are taking about when you talk about using an emulsifier in an anhydrous product like a lip balm. Are you adding water soluble ingredients?

Erica Echternach said...

I know this is an old post, but THANK YOU TARA for the bit on cupuacu butter. I was just scratching my head on how my formula was going to work in an almost all oil product with a very small amount of water soluble ingredient. Cupuacu butter is in there, so I am hoping what you heard is right.

JackieeTran said...

I'm thinking about making my own body butter for my dry, sensitive, irritated, skin. From what I've read, it appears as though my lipid barrier is ruined. My skin is constantly red, tight and will lose it's moisture shortly after I apply moisturiser.
In retrospect, it makes senses now after doing research. I've been using e45 and vaseline for 19 years of life. Of course my skin hasn't been repairing.
After visiting hundreds of sites full of missmatching information, I stumbled on your site and thank god I did. Your posts are so detailed yet easy to understand. Thank you!!

Based on my current situation, could you help with a couple of questions.

Firstly, should I go for a whipped butter or something humectant based?

Should I have one moisturiser that does everything or have two separate ones - a moisturiser and a balm specifically more potent for reducing redness and inflammation

Will the anhydrous body butter even hydrate properly since theres no water content in the moisturiser?

My current recipe includes
- body butter -
shea butter
hemp seed oil
aloe vera juice
sodium lactate

- anhydrous body butter with humectant -
shea butter
hemp seed oil
sodium lactate

What properties should I focus on for my moisturiser? Should it have more linoleic acid, more gamma linoleic, more vitamins, more humectants?
I originally wanted to go with avocado oil because of all the vitamins it has but it has too much oleic acid. Something with more linoeic acid would be better for my damaged barrier right? I was also thinking of grapeseed oil for its high lineoic acid content but chose the hemp oil instead for its gamma linoleic properties.

Many thanks

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi JackeeTran! I'd go with a lotion that contains a lovely oil with loads of linoleic acid or gamma-linoleic acid, like evening primrose, soy bean, borage, rice bran, or sesame oil, and some great humectants, like glycerin, sodium lactate, or hyaluronic acid. Get an occlusive in there - cocoa butter, allantoin, or dimethicone - and you've got a lovely lotion.

No, an anhydrous product will not hydrate your dry skin. It'll trap in water, but if you don't have enough, there's nothing to trap in.

Check out this section of the blog on skin chemistry for some ideas of what ingredients might benefit you. And do a search for "dry skin" or "dry skin lotion" as I have dozens of recipes you could use as a starter one, like this one for a body butter.

Hope this helps!