Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: Next week's project!

If you're interested in joining on the fun with next week's body butter project, click here to learn more about the supplies you'll need. If you made last week's lotion, then you have what you need!

59% water
2% sodium lactate

10% oils
15% butter
3% cetyl alcohol
7% Polawax (e-wax)

0.5% to 1% preservative
1% fragrance or essential oil

Join me next Tuesday for some instructions and the video!

Newbie Tuesday: You made lotion!

I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to wake up every morning to your e-mails and comments about your first time lotions! (And Lise is right - the excitement of seeing your emulsification happen never gets dull!) This we'll rejoice in your successes and trouble shoot some issues, then do it all again next week with body butter! If you have no idea what I'm writing about, check out the post on last newbie Tuesday for the first time lotion recipe. If you want to play along, but don't know where to start, click here.

Alex wrote to say: My name is Alex, and I am having a great time following along with your "Newbie Tuesday" posts! I've been reading your blog for a while, but I was intimidated to make anything myself - until now! I posted about my first lotion making experience on the newest post in the series. I'm very happy with the finished product! It went really well, and your instructions were so thorough and awesome! I have attached some photos of my process to this email. Feel free to post the photos if you think they will be helpful to others. I am really looking forward to the rest of the series, and I can't thank you enough for all of the wonderful information and encouragement!

I followed the recipe above and I aimed for a 100 gram recipe, so all I did was weigh the percents as grams (i.e., 69 grams water, 15g oil, etc). The directions were really helpful and I thought every detail was covered really well! I used shea butter for my butter and sunflower oil for my oil. I also used pink grapefruit essential oil. One mistake I made was I tared the water phase container while weighing the water phase initially...I should have written down the weight of container + water (as Susan said in the directions hehe... I guess I got too excited!!) I just chanced it and added 10 g water at the end of the heating and holding. One other problem i had was that my containers were bouncing around my double boiler a little bit during heating and holding. Maybe they are too light?

The consistency of my final product was fluffy and thick enough to put in a jar rather than a pump container. On the skin it was a tad oily, but I didn't mind! It absorbed fine after a few minutes. I think it's a pretty decent thicker, oilier winter lotion and I'm very happy with the result! lol I guess the real test whether this is a true success will be if the consistency stays the same over time! :)

This was super fun and I cant wait for the rest of the series!! Thanks so much for the great info and encouragement!!!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Alex! 

If your containers are bouncing around in your double boiler, then they are too light and/or your water is boiling a little too vigourously. If you are planning to do more lotion making, I suggest investing in some glass containers that have a little weight to them - Pyrex type jugs are a good choice - or putting more stuff in the containers. This is one of the down sides to using plastic. They can actually float and spill out into your container if you aren't paying complete attention to them as you're video taping next week's body butter recipe. (Yes, this happened to me yesterday!) 

If you find it too oily or greasy, are you already thinking of ways to reduce the greasiness in the next batch? Are you already thinking of ways to convert this into a spring or summer lotion? 

Rosi commented in this postHello Susan. I made my lotion yesterday and I also made some modifications on it. I added 70% water, 4% glycerin, 2% cetac, 10%, 5% coconut butter. It is supposed to be for the hair. It came out wonderful, until now it is still together, it has not separated. How long does it take for the lotion to separate if it will separate? I would like to make it less thick though, so what should I do add more water or reduce the the BTMS. I used BTMS 25. Thank you so much,  I keep looking at the lotion all the time and also touching it. My first lotion!!!!!

I think we all share the same sentiment. When made my first lotion, I think I used it up in a few days as I kept putting it on, making my friends and family try it, and I really did march around the house singing, "I made lotion! I made lotion!" It was such a great feeling! 

If a lotion is going to separate, you can't predict when it will separate. It could be right away, it could e a day or two later, it might be a year later. Ideally, you'd use BTMS-50 instead of BTMS-25 when making an emulsified product with 15% or so oils, but BTMS-25 can still emulsify things. And at 6%, odds are pretty good that you'll stay emulsified. I love the fact that you modified it yourself - using BTMS instead of Polawax! 

How can you make it thinner? Using 2% cetac will definitely reduce the viscosity - quite dramatically, in fact - so do you want it thinner still? 

Leman wrote in an an e-mail: I have made the newbie basic lotion recipe with success :-)) and here are my notes and photos attached if you like to share it. 

(Click here to see all the photos! How organized can you be? Wonderful!)

Measuring the water phase - here you will see a paper tissue between the scale and the beaker because once I pour the boiled water into the beaker my scale becomes unstable due to heat (the numbers keep going down) so I put a tissue to prevent the heat affecting this!

Heating up my water and oil phase to 70C - don't you love my new thermometers :-) I used mercury thermometer in the past and broke them twice they were just pain, these are called milk thermometers and as you can see the red zone is clearly marked for 70C :-) I am in love with them!

Now this looks silly I know! I put spatulas underneath my beakers to stop them from bouncing! they bounce so much when heating. I need to find proper wired rings!

Now this is the point of emulsification!!!! yupiiii.... the picture is not very clear I am afraid as I had to ask my boyfriend to take the pictures while I was pouring the oils phase into water phase as I was afraid I would either drop the camera into my double boiler or ruin my lotion and he took the picture of my hands rather than the process!

I mixed it with my milk frother for about 3 mins while the beaker was still in the double boiler but heat turned off. I took the beaker out of the double boiler and continued mixing for another 2 mins.

Letting it to cool to 45C. adding cool down ingredients. Hand mixing cool down ingredients for about 2 - 3 mins as my milk frother won't mixed it anymore! Consistency. This turned more like a cream than a lotion even though I topped up the water I lost during heating.

This is my lotion/cream in a jar! :-)) 

Few notes/questions:

- When heating for the 20 mins in double boiler the water phase was around and above 70C however the oil phase kept dropping below 70 even though they were in the same double boiler. Why is that? Sometimes I have this problem the other way round - oil phase going around 85-90C and water phase around 70-75C and it is a struggle to keep them both at around same temperature. Any tips here?

- I have weighed the water phase with the beaker together so I could add the lost water. Around 1g was evaporated so I compensated that.

- I am happy with the texture this time even though I used a milk frother. I think in the past I mixed it way too much and that's why I'd always have a lotion/cream more like a mouse consistency with lots of bubbles! This time it was perfect with soft silky texture, no bubbles. 

- I poured the oils phase into the water phase. This was the first time I did that, I usually pour my water into oil. I saw traces of oils in the oil phase beaker when the beaker has cooled down. I think it is more practical to pour water into oil. I think that's ok isn't it. We can do either way, right? I have measured my beaker with the traces of oil in it and then cleaned and dried and measured it so I could see how much oil I have wasted! It turned out that I have wasted 0.7g to be exact. Does that really matter? I mean since we are making small batches I guess it does matter. I think I am going to pour my water into oil from now on... 

Once again, thank you so much for the wonderful blog and sharing your knowledge with us. You are an angel! 

Amazing, Leman! Thank you for taking all those photos to share with us! Have I mentioned yet that I'm jealous of your beakers? I have one and I need to get more! And your lotion looks amazing! 

To answer your questions - I think the difference between the heated oil phase and heated water phase has to do with the way the water and oil conduct heat. I can get my water phase to 70˚C in what seems like a short period of time, whereas it feels like my oils take forever to get there and aren't that eager to stay around 70˚C. And it doesn't really matter whether we go oil into water or water into oil when we get to our mixing stage - just do what works best for you. (Click here for a post on that topic!)

HollyB wrote to say: Thanks for holding our hands. I'm definitely making more lotion. Next time I want to use some honey, since making things with hive products is my thing. Can hardly wait for the next Newbie Tuesday. Thanks again.

Wow, that's one gorgeous label, Holly! Are you thinking about modifying your recipe to include some honey and beeswax? 

Julie wrote to say: Bonjour Susan. First, thank you so much for your website! I have only found it a few months ago and I have not read everything yet, but it has been a delight to read so far. Following my discovery of cold process soaping, I have been trying to make lotion and other related products. I am still not done reading your book on making lotion, but reading your blog today while the kids were sleeping, I decided to give a try to your Newbie Tuesday lotion
making and bring the practice into the learning. As you ask for tale and pictures, here's mine:

The recipe I used:
- 69% water
- 15% avocado oil
- 5% mango butter
- 3% stearic acid (sorry I do not have cetyl alcohol yet, but it is on
my next order wish list)
- 6% BTMS
- 1% Optiphen
- 5 drops of each Lily of the Valley FO (NDA) and Bamboo FO (Saffire
Blue) (about 0.5%)

It was the first time I used an electric mixer to make lotion. I liked the results. I have used stick blender before, but mine died when I last try to make liquid soap and my other one is bigger and makes too much bubble for a small lotion recipe. The electric mixer made the lotion "fluffy" but no big bubbles. It was also the first time I use BTMS as an emulsifier (my usual been e-wax). I found the lotion a little waxy feeling at first, but very soft and powdery afterward. The waxy feeling actually feels very nice on hands and feet and is almost a little addictive (I can't stop rubbing my hands together). Maybe the stearic acid has also its part in the waxy feeling. I will be very curious to try cetyl alcohol when I get it.

Another thing I did different than your instructions (and I would love to have your point of view and experience on it) is the holding phase. Don't worry, I did it. But I used my oven instead of a double boiler. I melt my oils/butters in the microwave then I place the water cup and the oil cup in the oven at 175*F with a thermometer in each cup. Once it's reach 70*C (it actually goes up to about 75*C) I start counting the 20 minutes holding phase. I found this way easier than making a double boiler, but please let me know if you think it works the same or not.

Bonne travail, Julie! (And that's all the French I remember from grade 12! How sad is that?) Thanks for sharing with us! BTMS offers that powdery feeling that some people like and some don't. (If you're looking to reduce greasiness in your products, BTMS-50 is the first place I'd start!) Heating and holding in the oven works very well, so keep doing what you're doing! 

Lorraine wrote to say: I found your fantastic blog a couple of months back after I got hooked on various newbie bath & body recipes and today graduated to my first lotion with your kindly-shared expertise! Here are a couple of pictures of the end product.
As I was out of cream rather than lotion, I actually decided to cut my teeth on the Lush Dream Cream dupe as my first foray and it seems to have come out great! As I’m not a huge fan of camomile I substituted that for some powdered green tea, hence the green tinge in the photos.
I’m absolutely made up with the feel of the cream, the fun of the process and excitement of emulsification -  XD – and now I’m hooked! I can’t wait to run out of my other ‘bought’ products so I can have fun making more up at home.   Think I'll be buying one of your e-books before long as I'd love to show some financial support to your youth groups.

These look wonderful, Lorraine. (And I love your e-mail name of Cupcake Crafts!) But you don't have to wait until you run out products - there's always an excuse to make more!

HB commented in this post: I forgot to reweigh my water phase and added it to the oil phase. As the emulsion was magically happening, I remembered. So I put it all back on the scale and added water to make 100%. Good thing I'd written down the weight of the container earlier! And now I'm marching around the house with the bottle in hand saying, "I made lotion! I made lotion!" 

Congratulations on your new lotion, HB! Isn't it a great feeling? Make sure that any additions you make - generally water that you've forgotten - isn't too out of what temperature wise with the rest of the product. That's why I boil up a kettle of water and let it cool down. After the 1000 gram batch of foot lotion that died horribly because the little bit of water I had to add wasn't at the right temperature, I make sure I have heated water around!

A few thoughts for you, our wonderful newbie lotion makers...
1. What's the first thing you want to tweak and why?
2. What oils and butters are you thinking of buying for your next project?
3. Are you lusting after cute bottles yet?
4. Are you still thrilled with your first lotion?

And are you ready for next week? We're making body butter! And don't hesitate to share your thoughts if you're a first time (or relatively new) lotion maker! I made lotion! I made lotion! Yep, it's still exciting for me all these years later! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

A few administrative things for the blog on a slightly rainy Monday morning...

I'm in the workshop today - it's finally warm enough! - stocking up on just about everything I need! I'm out of or just about out of shampoo bars, conditioner bars, intense conditioner with coconut oil, winter hair custard, intense conditioner with all my conditioning agentsleave in conditioner, body butter, body wash, bubble bath, cuticle balm, hand lotion, sugar scrub, solid scrub bars, and foot scrub bars. (And no, I won't get these all done today, but I can start!)

Okay, I realize that I probably sound pretty mean from here on down...but I have to set my boundaries or I will end up giving too much of myself away and have nothing left for me or the people I love.

Please don't ask me to duplicate any products for you. I wrote that series as a way of teaching you how to do it yourself and thought it might inspire you to learn new ways of making products, and I'm done with it for now. (Click here to see my explanation as to why I'm done with duplicating products.) Instead, why not learn enough so you can duplicate your own products? Check out the formulating series or the duplicating series to see how you might do it yourself! (It's going to take some time, but everything awesome takes time, and it's worth it!)

If you're new to the blog, please read more than the first or second post you see before writing to me. Odds are pretty good that I've written about the topic that interests you before. (I'm up to 1505 posts, most of them about bath & body products!) I know the blog can be huge at times, so check out the tour I've posted in the upper right hand section that says "before you write to me..." Or check out the FAQ to your right. I love getting your e-mails, but you aren't the first person to try to convince me that beeswax is an emulsifier or GSE is a preservative. You aren't the first person to refer me to Skin Deep or the EWG about an ingredient being bad for you. This is why I really recommend that you take the tour before writing to me because you'll get to know a little bit more about my philosophy of formulating and creating products. (I don't have a clue what "natural" means, I believe in preservatives, I don't consider Skin Deep or the EWG reliable scientific sources.) Plus, you'll find out where stuff is, and that's always a good thing!

How do I choose what e-mails I'm going to answer and those things I'm going to put on the blog? Curiosity, mostly. Something piques my interest or lends itself nicely to a blog post, so I'll choose that one. I try to answer as many e-mails as I can in the morning, but please remember that I work full time, take classes at the university, plan and run my youth groups, and have friends and family with whom I want to spend time, as well as doing research and writing the blog, so my time at the computer is very limited. (I also like to play video games from time to time and read!) Please don't be offended if I don't have time to re-write your formula for you: I need time for myself some days.

This is not directed at any one person - please don't take offence if you see something of yourself in this post because it really isn't about you - but to all of you, my wonderful readers, in general. I love this blog - I love hearing about your first time lotions, I love hearing about your hundredth time lotions, I love trouble shooting your problems, I love referring you to places where you can get ingredients, I love seeing pictures from your countries, I love seeing the studies that show I'm wrong, I love learning more about you and why you got into making bath & body products - but I'm only one person with limited time, and I find it hard to get everything done I want to get done in a day.

With that said, join me tomorrow for Newbie Tuesday where you get to show off your amazing lotions! I'm so excited about this! Your pictures and stories are so much fun - keep them coming!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When should you use a preservative?

I'm getting a lot comments and e-mail from newbies lately - welcome! - asking about preservatives. The answer is - whenever you have a product that contains water or might be exposed to water, you must add a preservative.

If you want to make an oil in water lotion (what we normally make), you must add a preservative. If you change every millilitre of water in the lotion to being honey or aloe or a hydrosol, those are still water based ingredients and you must add a preservative. If you make a body wash, shampoo, conditioner, or any other product that contains water or a water like ingredient, you must add a preservative.

If you have a product into which someone might put their wet hands - for instance, a sugar scrub - you will need to add a suitable preservative. (Click here for more information on water activity and preserving!)

Let's go back a step...What is a preservative? Preservatives help prevent microbial growth in our products, which can cause separation of our emulsions, speed up rancidity of our oils and butters, and cause weird smells and colours.

Vitamin E is NOT a preservative. It is an anti-oxidant that can help retard rancidity, but it is not a preservative that will prevent microbial growth.
Citric acid is NOT a preservative. It can be used as an anti-oxidant that can help retard rancidity, but it will also mess with the pH of your product (making it more acidic by 1 pH at 0.2% or so).
Grapefruit seed extract is NOT a preservative. (I've gone into greater detail about this in this post.)
Essential oils are NOT preservatives. They might have some anti-microbial features (like eugenol), but none of them have been proven to be effective preservatives in our products. (More about this tomorrow!)

It really doesn't matter why you can't use a preservative - if you make a water containing product, you must use a preservative. Offering up what seems like a good reason to leave out the preservative doesn't mean it's okay to leave it out. Fungus, bacteria, and yeast don't care if you're allergic or sensitive, if you're vegan or you want the product to be organic - they'll still grow in your lotions, and make you and the people you love sick. Everybody's got their something: I'm lactose intolerant. Lactaid Ultra pills don't help, and I've even gone as far as taking two before eating Raymond's amazing homemade ice cream and I still get sick. It sucks, but that's my reality. I don't get to eat ice cream or drink egg nog or enjoy cake with tons of whipped cream. In a similar vein, if you are allergic to preservatives, if you want only 100% organic products, if you're against them somehow, or if you don't want to spend money on more ingredients, then you don't get to use water containing products and will have to stick to anhydrous products.

I know this sounds harsh, but this is the reality. I don't care how many blogs or suppliers out there try to convince you that you can make products that don't contain preservatives, you can't make a water containing product without a preservative, and writing to me to ask for my blessing to make a water containing product without a preservative is pointless. It's like asking your vegan friend to grill you up a tasty steak - it's not going to happen.

Related posts:
Preservatives - a whole bunch of posts on the topic
Why use a preservative?
Mechanisms of rancidity
Storing products in the fridge
If you really want to make products without preservatives...
The importance of preservatives

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Are you a newbie who has made some lotion?

Are you a newbie who has been following Newbie Tuesday? Have you made your first lotion recently? Want to share your success or troubleshoot your failure? Then write to me (sjbarclay@telus.net) or visit this post and comment and we'll get to it on Tuesday, January 31st! (I like the e-mailing 'cause I get to see pictures, but comments are good.)

As for this week...it's Rated T for Teen video game club today, so I won't be writing anything new until tomorrow! We had a power outage all through town yesterday due to a fire at the power station - look in the centre of the photo, which was before the explosion - so I didn't get a chance to write anything yesterday. We'll be back to normal on Sunday (and I have the week off, so yay, more time to research and experiment!) 

Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How can you tell it's a good recipe? Do the math!

Jenna wrote as a comment in this post on recipes: I have created this recipe and have made it before. There were moments that it worked and moments that it didn't. So after finding your blog a short time ago, I finally have the courage to ask about my recipe. 

water 300g 
ewax 25g
shea butter 40g
sweet almond 52.5g
jojoba 52.5g 
preservative 2.5g
vit e 30 drops

The first thing we need to do is work on the math for this recipe and put it into a percentage so we can see if we have the right amount of various things. How do we do that? Add up all the numbers we have - the water is 300 grams, the e-wax 25 grams, and so on (leave out the Vitamin E as it's hard to know the weight of 30 drops), and figure out if we have enough of each ingredient in the mix.

The ingredients in this lotion total 472.5 grams, so this recipe ends up being...
63.5% water
5.3% e-wax
8.5% shea butter
11% sweet almond oil
11% jojoba oil
0.5% preservative
0.2% Vitamin E (I had 0.2% left over with the rounding, so I figured I would put it in the Vitamin E)

What can we tell about this lotion now? It's a high oil lotion - 63.5% water phase with 30.5% oil phase - and it needs more emulsifier. If we use the 25% rule from Polawax (we use 25% of the oil phase in our emulsifier), we should be using 7.625% emulsifier in the lotion to make sure it's emulsified well. (It's recommended for some emulsifying waxes NF that aren't Polawax that you use 1% more in a lotion, so really, you want to use 8.625% e-wax in the recipe). So the first problem here is that we aren't using enough emulsifier. (And this would explain why it failed. Sometimes

My second suggestion is to add a thickener. Some people call cetyl alcohol (or any fatty alcohol) or stearic acid a co-emulsifier - that's not really true, but it will help keep the product emulsified. And it will thicken it up, which is a bonus! I'd remove 3% from the oil phase and add 3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid. Which one you use depends upon your goal for this product. If you want a foot cream or body butter that stays on a long time, I'd go with stearic acid. If this is a body lotion or hand lotion that you want to glide on easily, cetyl alcohol. I've removed 3% from the sweet almond oil to make up for the 3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid, but you could reduce the jojoba or the shea butter instead.

You have the preservative at the right level if you're using something like liquid Germall Plus, at the low end for something like Germaben II, and too low for Optiphen. (Check out the chart for more information on preservative suggested usage levels).

Why did the recipe work some times, but not others? Because Jenna likely had the two other types of emulsification - heat, mechanical, and chemical - going for her, even when the chemical emulsification didn't work!

Let's re-write this recipe!

60.2% water

8.5% emulsifying wax
8.4% shea butter
8% sweet almond oil
11% jojoba oil
3% cetyl alcohol or stearic acid

0.5% preservative
0.2% Vitamin E

Here you go, Jenna! Let us know how it worked!

Related posts:
Calculating percentages from weight. 
Convert recipes from percentages to weight. 
Why do we weigh our ingredients?
Troubleshooting an epic lotion fail!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Heating, holding, freezing, and thawing our ingredients!

The temperature of our ingredients is a hot topic these days, so let's take a look at a few questions I've been posed in the last few weeks...

If we heat carrier oils, will they go rancid quicker? Are we destroying the goodness in them?

I answered this question last year in this post, but let's summarize it here. (Quick answers are no and no.)

Heat won't ruin our lovely oils because we aren't heating them up to a temperature where they will start smoking or burning or oxidizing. (For instance, coconut oil has a smoke point of 180˚C or 350˚F. Click here for a list of the smoke points of various oils.) As you can see, the more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. Grapeseed oil isn't as fragile as one might think: It has a smoke point of 216˚C, which is right in the middle of the list!

Yes, heat will increase the rate of oxidation of our oils, but only by a bit, and we can compensate for that by including Vitamin E or another anti-oxidant. It's not going to speed up the rate of rancidity so much that a 1 year shelf life lotion becomes a three month shelf life lotion. It's more like making a 1 year shelf life lotion a 11.5 month shelf life lotion. And besides, if you don't heat and hold, you're not going to get a great emulsification anyway, which severely limits the shelf life of every product to "the moment it fails", which could be shortly after creation.

Can we heat delicate oils - like evening primrose, borage, squalane, and so on - in the heat and hold phase of our products or should we leave them for the cool down phase?

There is no chemical difference between what we call exotic oils and carrier oils. They both contain fatty acids, phytosterols, polyphenols, and all kinds of vitamins and minerals. The concept of one oil being a carrier oil and another being an exotic oil has no basis in chemistry - it's a designation we've given the oils based on availability and cost. Wheat germ oil might or might not be an exotic oil depending upon the section of the store your supplier puts it in and how common it might be in your part of the world. Don't get me wrong...there are differences between something like borage oil and sunflower oil (for instance) - borage feels drier, it contains GLA, it has a different fatty acid make up - but they aren't so different that we have to treat borage with great delicacy and sunflower oil with reckless abandon!

I've only seen one oil listed as needing to be in the cool down phase and that's kukui nut oil. And to be honest, I'm not seeing anything scientific showing that kukui nut oil can't be used in the heated oil phase of the product or anything about its sensitivity to temperature. I got this information from a supplier's website, and I can't promise you that it's accurate. 

Every carrier or exotic oil we use should go into the heated oil phase to ensure it emulsifies into the product. If you put them in the cool down phase, you are risking an epic lotion failure, which is doubleplusungood and to be avoided! There is no need to put our exotic oils into the cool down phase because we aren't heating them up to the point of smoking, which is really the only way we can damage them.

70˚C or 158˚F is not that high a temperature in the grand scheme of things. Vitamins can handle high temperatures - click here for information on Vitamin C, for instance - as can our fatty acids, polyphenols, phytosterols. In this study, phytosterols were heated for either 50˚C for several weeks or 100˚C for an hour, and the oils "did not show any significant variation in the phytosterol content."

Tara asked in this postIs there some validity in the point that it is the CHANGES in temperatures that help to destroy our oils? I like to freeze most of my oils, but they need to be brought to room temperature before I can use them. I then refreeze them and thaw them again the next time I use them. Is this more destructive than if I just leave them at room temperature (or slightly below, as my work area is in the basement)?

It's a good question, and yes, there can be some changes in ingredients when they go from being frozen to heated, but there doesn't seem to be so big a difference when it comes to oils, butters, and exotic oils. The changes of concern are when we have to worry about ice crystals ruining something - say veggies or meat - or when we have a lotion that goes from being in my freezing car after a week of snow days into my too warm office. I regularly freeze and thaw my oils without problem.

So can you freeze and thaw then re-freeze your oils? Yes. It's fine. Can you leave your oils at room temperature? Sure. There's no problem there either!

I know the plural of anecdote is not data and I can't just ask you to take my word for the idea that you can freeze and thaw oils without problem, but I can't find any good studies showing that it's okay to do this. You can see what the North Dakota State University has to say about freezing oils (very brief, scroll down a bit). The key problem with freezing anything is the creation of ice crystals by the water in the product. Oils and butters don't contain water, so there's no problem there! 

If we can freeze our oils and butters, can we freeze our anhydrous products? In theory, yes. It would depend what product you're freezing. If you want to freeze a bath oil - sure, go ahead. Bath melts? Why not? Your sugar scrub base (without sugar)? Sure! A balm or lotion bar? Why not? And so on. And don't worry about the bottles - when oil freezes it contracts, unlike water, which expands! (Click here for more on water and freezing!)

You cannot freeze products that contain water! Emulsified products are especially fragile when it comes to freezing as are products that might contain water soluble ingredients (like conditioner bars that might have hydrolyzed proteins and panthenol, for instance).

Learn more about oils, butters, exotic oils, and esters in the emollients section of the blog!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Newbie Tuesday: It's time to make lotion

It's Tuesday! Did your supplies arrive? Are you ready to make a lotion? Do you have your supplies ready? All right! Let's go!

Sorry I didn't have a video ready - it's been hovering around 0˚C in my workshop and the heater only brought it to 9˚C on a good day! I'll try for the next recipe! 

Download a PDF of this post here! 

69% water

15% oil (sunflower, soy bean, rice bran, or olive oil)
5% shea or mango butter
3% cetyl alcohol
6% emulsifier (BTMS or Polawax)

1% fragrance or essential oil
0.5% to 1% preservative
(This doesn't total 100% because of the difference in preservatives!)

Note: I've changed the emulsifier to be 6% - it should be 5.75% if I'm using Polawax, but I considered that you might be using all kinds of weird and wonderful emulsifiers, and 6% will cover those of you using Polawax, BTMS-50, and e-wax very well. I've reduced the water to 69% to compensate.

Secondary note: Check your preservative's suggested usage rate to ensure you're putting it in the right phase. Most will go into the cool down phase, but some won't! (Click here for the list.) 

You can do this! It's not rocket science - it's cosmetic science, which much more awesome and useful in your daily life! You will not pre-suck! (We define this in craft group as saying you suck before you've even started so when you fail, you can say "I told you so", and not lose face. Or saying "I'm not good at this new thing", and you won't be, because it's something new and we're not going to be perfect the first time out!)

Just think...in about an hour, you can say you've made a lotion and have something to show for your hard work and research. (Take a picture of it and send it to me at sjbarclay@telus.net so I can see what you've made! I'm quite excited by all of this!)

Ensure that your space is clean and tidy. Make sure all your containers, utensils, and everything else have been cleaned well. (Click here for related link.) Get a bottle (or two) ready for your lotion. (You don't need to clean your bottle. If you bought it from your supplier, then it's assumed to be clean!)

If you're making the recipe I mentioned in the first Newbie Tuesday post, then you'll make about 3 ounces or 90 ml of lotion, which will require a 2 ounce bottle with a little left over or a 4 ounce bottle with some head space at the top.

First, turn on your double boiler apparatus (or turn on the burner on the stove) and get the water in the double boiler warming. I'm not sure of the exact amount of water you should add to your specific double boiler: Add enough that the tops of containers aren't covered by the water and it won't spill into the containers if the water accidentally starts boiling. I generally find that getting the water half way to 3/4 of the way up the side of my Pyrex jug should take me through to the end of the heating and holding phase. You can boil up the water in a kettle or pot before using it in the double boiler, if you like.

Next, get your supplies and equipment ready. You'll be using a scale for all the measuring, so make sure it has a prominent place on the counter top. You need two heat proof containers (Pyrex jugs, for instance) - one for the heated water phase, one for the heated oil phase. And you'll need a spoon for each container because you won't be able to resist having a stir as they heat!

Have your notebook beside you with the recipe printed in quite large font and a pen or pencil at the ready. Writing notes is vital to make sure you know what you did this time and what to do (or not to do) next time!

Put your Pyrex jug on the scale. Now weigh out your heated water phase - just the water in this recipe - into your heatproof container.

Weigh your container - hit tare on the scale (zero out the number) so you can get the "before" weight of your heated water phase. (We need this number to know how much water evaporates during the heated water phase so we can compensate for it before we combine the two phases). Now put this container into your double boiler.

Put the second Pyrex jug on the scale. Weigh out everything from the heated oil phase - your oil, butter, emulsifier, cetyl alcohol - into the jug, then put the jug into the double boiler.

I forgot to take a picture of this container on the scale, but this is what your heated oil phase will look like - some oils with the pellets of emulsifier and flakes of cetyl alcohol sinking to the bottom or maybe floating around the top. Depending upon the butter you use, it may or may not be showing as large chunks in the container.

Monitor your containers. Use your thermometer regularly. (If you're using glass containers, try not to let the thermometer hit the floor of the container or you'll be taking its temperature, not your product!)

When the temperature of both phases reaches 70˚C or 158˚F, start your timer for 20 minutes. The containers should heat and hold for 20 minutes at 70˚C or 158˚F. (The temperature might fluctuate and get up as high as 85˚C. That's okay, as long as the temperatures of both containers are over 70˚C and relatively the same when you combine them.)

In the meantime, while you're waiting for the heat and hold phase to come to an end, you can fill up a kettle or another container for heating water and heat some water. You'll add some of this to the heated water phase just before your combine the two to ensure you have a water phase of 70%.

If you haven't written any notes yet, write them now! What oil did you use? Which butter? Did you go a little over the suggested amount for anything? How long did it take for the phases to get to 70˚C? And so on. Also while you're waiting, put away the things you don't need and get out those things you do need like a funnel or plastic bag to get the lotion into the bottle, the bottle, perhaps a label, and definitely your cool down phase ingredients. Check on the water in your double boiler and make sure you have enough so you won't run dry before the 20 minutes is up. Maybe do a little air guitar, or check your e-mail on your smart phone. Twenty minutes isn't that long, but it might feel that way when you're excited to see your lotion finish!

When you've heated and held both phases at 70˚C/158˚F for 20 minutes, remove just the water container from the heat and measure it. How much water did you lose? Add up to the amount you should have had originally. Let's say you measured 500 grams for your container and water phase - if your container now reads 475, add 25 grams from the water you boiled up separately. (It is okay if the water in the kettle is a little hotter than the water phase, as long as it doesn't make the water phase 85˚C or 100˚C while your oil phase is around 70˚C. This is unlikely to happen with so little water and your water phase being over 70˚C, so don't worry!)

Add the oil phase to the water phase and watch the emulsification happen. Isn't it awesome? The way the everything the oil touches turns into milky white without you having to do anything! This is chemical emulsification and it's awesome! (I remember the first time I saw emulsification - I was so excited! I love it when the kids in my craft group see it for the first time - it really is quite awesome!)

This is the part of lotion making where we mix. I like to use my hand mixer on setting 1 or 2 using the beater attachment and mix for a few minutes - maybe 4 minutes or so? Then I set it aside and let it cool down. Put a thermometer in the container and wait a bit. The temperature of the room is important here. If you have an unheated workshop like mine, it can take a really short period of time to cool down - maybe 10 to 15 minutes. If you have a warm room, it might take longer. Some people use an ice bath to cool it down. I guess you could do that if you really wanted it to cool down quickly - I've never tried it because it never seems to take very long to cool in my house!

And yes, it's okay to have a stir with a clean spoon while you're waiting for it to cool down. See how the viscosity changes as the product gets closer to 45˚C. It can take up to three days for a lotion to come to its final viscosity, so don't worry that you are currently seeing something with the consistency of slightly thickened milk!

When the product reaches 45˚C or 113˚F, add your cool down ingredients. In this lotion, that would be your fragrance/essential oil and preservative (I use liquid Germall Plus, which goes into the cool down phase. Your preservative may vary. Check before you start making the lotion!) Mix again. Maybe 2 or 3 minutes? Now leave it alone. You're done. We're just waiting for it to get cool enough to bottle.

If you're going to put this in a jar, you can do that right away and let the product cool in the jar. Do not put the lid on the product - we don't want condensation! Cover the jar(s) with a paper towel until cooled.

If you're putting this into any other kind of bottle, put a clean cloth or paper towel over the top of the container, and let it cool down to where the jug isn't warm to the touch any more (room temperature - around 20˚C or 68˚F). You can try using a funnel to get your product into the bottle, but I prefer to use a piping bag (that you'd use for icing - find them in the cake decorating section of your favourite craft store or Daiso!). Some people suggest using a plastic bag with the corner cut off - for some reason, I can't make this work for me and end up with lotion everywhere.

Put some pressure on the bag, then let it off, then add a bit more, until your container is getting quite full. Bang the container on the table to get rid of the air, then add some more. Keep doing this until you reach a point where you want to try putting the pump into the bottle. Make sure it doesn't overflow because it'll get into the pump mechanisms!

And now you're done! Rejoice! Do a happy dance to celebrate the making of the lotion! You've done it!

The next part of lotion making? Making cute labels. Marching around the house with the bottle in your hand saying, "I made lotion! I made lotion!" E-mailing your friends and family (and tutor - sjbarclay@telus.net) and telling them tales with attached pictures! And generally rejoicing in the fact that you set out to accomplish something and did it! You're walking on sunshine, and don't it feel good? Indeed!

Please write your comments in the section below to inspire others to give it a try! (Can we try to keep all the newbie lotion making comments in this post and keep all the comments in this post about first time lotion making?)  Next week's Newbie Tuesday post will be the troubleshooting and sharing part of the process, so please e-mail me (sjbarclay@telus.net) or comment below and let me know how it went for you. I want others to learn from your experiences, but I also need to know if this tutorial was helpful! If you encounter a problem - like a lotion fail, for instance - please write out your recipe and process, letting me know about any changes (for instance, type of oil and butter), so we can trouble shoot it next week! Please send pictures and let me know if it's okay to use your experience and photos in the post next week. (And let me know what screen name you want!)

Congratulations! You did it! Now use it all up very quickly so you have a cheap excuse to make another one!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Points of interest relating to the cold on a very snowy Friday

I haven't written about it much this week, but apparently I'm living in the "Freezer Valley" now (as opposed to the Fraser Valley - ha ha ha, it's a pun or play on words!). The snow started on Saturday, January 14th, and has continued throughout the week. I've had to cancel four craft groups, and the university, the schools, and my work have been closed since Tuesday! I know it probably doesn't look that bad, but the roads are very dangerous right now - we don't clean them properly, people don't have snow tires, and we don't really know how to snow drive unless we grew up somewhere other than southwestern BC - and we're waiting for the freezing rain to fall.

Updated to add: I'm definitely not going out today or tomorrow or any other day until the roads are safe again! Nothing in my life is THAT important! You know when they warn you that you should be worried about the "other drivers" on the road in weather like this? I am the other driver! 

The good thing about this week is that I've managed to get all my paper work done - hooray, it's a post Christmas miracle! - and I've managed to get samples of everything for craft group for the next two months, so I'll have nice, easy to follow shopping lists with examples to show the kids!

The humidity is really low around here right now - about 25%, when it's generally more in the 50% or higher range - which means for the first time in a long time, I have to worry about my hair being too dry rather than trying to keep the frizzies away! Normally, I'd get into my workshop and make myself a nice intense conditioner with coconut oil, but it's -6˚C in there, which is just slightly higher than the outside temperature. (I don't mind the cold, but I do mind freezing! And even the little ceramic heater and the larger radiator don't get it warm enough to avoid muscle spasms!) Instead, I've just heated up some virgin de coconut oil and put it on the ends of my hair. I smell amazing right now - so coconut-y - and my hair will be happy with the extra moisturization! I look like I haven't washed my hair in a week, but it's not like I'm leaving the house any time soon, eh? (A tip for the oily haired amongst us: Don't put this near your scalp or you'll get more oily for a while. Just put the oil on the ends of your hair and the really dry bits!)

Which brings me to the second point of interest for a very snowy Friday. My oils and surfactants are either frozen or around the cloud or titer point. I get e-mails or see comments or read posts on forums about whether or not we should keep our oils in the fridge or freezer and my answer is always a resounding yes! The concern is that we might hurt a fragile oil, and my answer is that there is nothing you might find in an oil that can be damaged by freezing. In fact, you're retarding rancidity and stopping the clock on the shelf life by freezing it!

Let's put this in perspective. You've just purchased some wonderful hemp seed oil with a shelf life of three months. Let's say you're a lucky person like me, and can drive to your supplier and pick it up. Even if the three month shelf life of that oil starts on the day you purchased it (let's say January 20th), your oil will be unusable by April 20th. Time flies when you're trying to find time to get into the workshop, and before you know it, it'll be spring break in March before you find time to formulate something awesome with it. And now that product has a shelf life of one month. If you freeze the oils, you effectively stop the clock on January 20th, so when you make that product in March, it'll be good until at least June! Now that's a big difference!

I always put my more expensive oils into the freezer if I don't use them the week I buy them. Comfrey, calendula, pomegranate, sea buckthorn, hemp seed, and other exotic oils get popped into a freezer bag in the bottle and frozen. When I buy larger amounts of regular oils - things like rice bran, olive, sunflower, and soy bean - I package them into smaller bottles, label them, then get them into the freezer. (Because I make smaller batches of products and I don't sell what I make, I don't go through as much oil as you'd imagine!)

If you've been keeping your oils in the fridge (or my workshop!), bring them back by heating the bottle in warm water - something like a double boiler on low - until the cloudiness disappears. You can do the same with your surfactants - just remember to heat them slowly until they clear up and become more liquidy. (As a note, make sure you have a little plate or metal ring on the bottom of the double boiler so the plastic bottle doesn't warp while you're heating it! It won't get totally ruined, but it will have trouble standing up afterwards!)

Related posts:
Rancidity: A primer
Mechanisms of rancidity. 
All the posts on various oils

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Essential oil: Rosemary essential oil - anti-inflammatory studies

Rosemary essential oil is regularly referred to as an anti-inflammatory, but does this claim stand up when we take a look at the science?

"The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of rosemary essential oil (REO) on experimental models of nociception and inflammation in animals. These data suggest that REO possesses anti-inflammatory and peripheral antinociceptive activity." (1) And this study noted that, "carnosic acid has a strong anti-inflammatory potential". And this study on wound care with rosemary essential oil noted, "Reduced inflammation and enhanced wound contraction, re-epithelialization, regeneration of granulation tissue, angiogenesis and collagen deposition were detected in the treated wounds. Conclusions: Results indicated that the essential oil of Rosmarinus officinalis was the most active in healing diabetic wounds and provide a scientific evidence for the traditional use of this herb in wound treatment. However, further scientific verification is required to confirm and assess the range of wound healing potential of essential oils of Rosemary chemotypes." (2) As a note, this study used "aqueous extract and essential oil" and each was applied to the wounds. The essential oil was found to be more active.

Why does rosemary work in this way? The studies I've seen note that 1,8-cineole and carnosic acid have anti-inflammatory properties. Does it work if we just inhale it? No. We have to actively apply it or inject it (please do not go around injecting yourself with rosemary essential oil, regardless of what the studies say!)

Can we come to the conclusion that rosemary essential oil can behave as an anti-inflammatory? I think we can!

If you want to know more about the mechanisms by which carnosic acid works, look for the paper Carnosic acid and carnosol potently inhibit human 5-lipoxygenase and suppress pro-inflammatory responses of stimulated human polymorphonuclear leukocyte (Biochemical Pharmacology; Jul2008, Vol. 76 Issue 1, p91-97, 7p), where the authors state "Recently, we found that CA [carnosic acid] and CS [carnosol] activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, implying an anti-inflammatory potential on the level of gene regulation." Or look for the paper entitled Carnosic acid and carnosol, phenolic diterpene compounds of the labiate herbs rosemary and sage, are activators of the human peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. (Planta Medica (PLANTA MEDICA), 2006 Aug; 72(10): 881-7 (56 ref))

1. Takaki, I., Bersani-Amado, L., Vendruscolo, A., Sartoretto, S., Diniz, S., Bersani-Amado, C., & Cuman, R. (2008). Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil in experimental animal models. Journal Of Medicinal Food, 11(4), 741-746.
2. Healing potential of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on full-thickness excision cutaneous wounds in alloxan-induced-diabetic BALB/c mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology; Sep2010, Vol. 131 Issue 2, p443-450, 8p

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Essential oils: Rosemary essential oils - aromatherapy

It's interesting how many of the studies I've found compare lavender and rosemary essential oils when it comes to aromatherapy. (A quick recap from this post on lavender and aromatherapy: The studies are showing that inhaling lavender essential oil can decrease anxiety and stress and the expression of same as well as increasing sleep.)

In one study by Diego et al (1988. As noted from p. 292 of the Handbook of Essential Oils), a study was conducted with lavender and rosemary essential oils. Participants inhaled one or the other for three minutes before a math task. Both essential oils were found to affect performance compared with a baseline. Both increased calculating speed, but the lavender increased accuracy. (An increase in speed without an increase in accuracy is kinda pointless! They wondered if the people who inhaled rosemary were "overaroused"!) The rosemary group reported feeling more alert, while the lavender group reported having a less depressed mood. All reported feeling less anxious, more relaxed and more alert, but there was a feeling of general drowsiness for the lavender group.

In another study (see link below), the lavender group saw "a significant decrement in performance of working memory" and a decrease in reaction times. The rosemary group showed enhanced performance for overall quality of memory but an impairment in speed of memory. Both groups reported feeling more content than the control group, but the rosemary group reported feeling more alert than the other two groups. As a note, they mention the whole speed vs. accuracy thing - perhaps a reduction in speed facilitates a higher level of accuracy? (page 32).  (Moss, M., Cook, J., Wesnes, K., & Duckett, P. (2003). AROMAS OF ROSEMARY AND LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OILS DIFFERENTIALLY AFFECT COGNITION AND MOOD IN HEALTHY ADULTS. International Journal Of Neuroscience, 113(1), 15. (Click here for the study. I really recommend that you read this. It is simply fascinating and gives all kinds of reasons why aromatherapy works.)

I have looked at a number of other studies, and they are coming up with the same thing. Rosemary makes you more alert, more speedy, but less focused. I just didn't want to overwhelm you with citations!

So this sounds pretty positive...except it sounds like inhaling rosemary might result in some kind of alertness but also some spazziness where you can't control your power? (I feel like this most days!) I don't get the idea of being relaxed but alert - remember, though, I'm all about the hyperness - but it sounds like the use of rosemary in aromatherapy might result in someone feeling a bit more energetic, but not quit as focused. (Like a firehose spraying everywhere! Lots of power and energy, but less control).

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at rosemary essential oil's role as an anti-inflammatory!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

If essential oils are so great at being anti-oxidants, why don't we use them more in that capacity?

Essential oils can be fantastic anti-oxidants, and we do use them in that capacity all the time in cosmetic products. ROE, rosemary essential oil, powdered rosemary extract, green tea extract, and so on - we use all these things to prevent our oils from oxidizing in our products!

Although cinnamon, clove, and rosemary essential oils (to name a few) are good anti-oxidants, there is some dispute as to whether they are better than BHA and BHT. (Özcan, M., & Arslan, D. (2011). Antioxidant effect of essential oils of rosemary, clove and cinnamon on hazelnut and poppy oils. Food Chemistry, 129(1), 171-174, and other studies). Click here for more information on rosemary essential oil as an anti-oxidant.

The other problem with adding essential oils as anti-oxidants is that you have to have the fragrance that comes along with them. This is fine if you like the smell of lavender or sage or rosemary, but what if you hate those fragrances? What if you don't want the possible psychological effects of those essential oils, or what if you're going into the desert and the combination that works best for your shampoo or conditioner bars is almost the same as the combination that works to annoy snakes?

Finally, essential oils need to be respected for their effects - they might make us more or less alert, more or less drowsy, offer us relief from pain, penetrate our skin - which means they might not be the best choice as an anti-oxidant for our products.

Related posts...
Rancidity: A primer
Mechanisms of rancidity

Essential oils: Rosemary essential oil - anti-oxidant and anti-microbial?

We see claims all the time that rosemary is a good anti-oxidant and anti-microbial, but does it stand up to tests of these assertions? Let's find out!

Rosemary essential oil has been used as an anti-oxidant for quite some time - we can see this in the use of ROE or rosemary oleoresin extract (I think that's what that stands for - I've seen a few interpretations). There are countless studies on this topic, but I'll quote a few here. This one, from the awesomely named journal Meat Science, found that "The effect of the addition of rosemary essential oil on the oxidative stability of frankfurters depended on the level of added essential oil and the characteristic of the frankfurter. The rosemary essential oil successfully inhibited the development of lipid and protein oxidation in IF with that antioxidant effect being more intense at higher concentrations of essential oil." (Read the entire study to see the effects on white pigs, which weren't so great. IF stands for Iberian pigs.) This study concluded that "Strong inhibition of LP [lipid peroxidation] in both systems of induction was especially observed for the essential oil of rosemary." This study, entitled Antioxidant Activities of Rosemary, Sage, and Sumac Extracts and Their Combinations on Stability of Natural Peanut Oil, concluded that "Rosemary extract (except for 3 and 4 h) exhibited the most antioxidant effect compared with other individual extracts."  In a study researching if rosemary and sage essential oils could retard rancidity on par with BHT. "Plant essential oils inhibited oxidative deterioration of liver pâtés to a higher extent than BHT did." (Estévez, M., Ramírez, R., Ventanas, S., & Cava, R. (2007). Sage and rosemary essential oils versus BHT for the inhibition of lipid oxidative reactions in liver pâté. LWT - Food Science & Technology, 40(1), 58-65.)

This study found that "rosemary extract had a higher antioxidant activity than blackseed essential oil", which really doesn't tell us much about anything, but I figured I should include all the studies I found instead of cherry picking those which confirmed my position. 

It seems that every essential oil is considered antiseptic or anti-microbial, so I always take any claim of this nature with a huge grain of salt. But there are some good studies being conducted on rosemary essential oil and killing bacteria. The conclusions of this study noted: "In the present study, the antimicrobial activity of the essential oils from clove (Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. et Perry) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) was tested alone and in combination...Both essential oils possessed significant antimicrobial effects against all microorganisms tested...The antimicrobial activity of combinations of the two essential oils indicated their additive, synergistic or antagonistic effects against individual microorganism tests." Very interesting!

This study - The Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antioxidative activity of laurel, sage, rosemary, oregano and coriander essential oils - concluded that "The oils showed a high degree of inhibition against all the microorganisms tested. The highest and broadest activity was shown by the oil of oregano, while the oil of sage was the least effective."

And take a look at this study relating to the P. acnes bacteria (the bacteria that causes acne). "Significant changes in morphology and size of P. ACNES were observed by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in response to essential oil treatment...In conclusion, the AFM investigation of morphology and size of P. ACNES treated with rosemary essential oil represents a powerful technique, which can generally be applied to reveal the biological changing mechanisms of bacteria induced by antibacterial agents at the nanometer level." (Yujie, F. (2007). Investigation of Antibacterial Activity of Rosemary Essential Oil against Propionibacterium acnes with Atomic Force Microscopy. Planta Medica, 73(12), 1275-1280.) Now I realize that this study was all about the coolness of the atomic force microscope and not about how rosemary essential oil might be used against acne, but it is interesting to see that when P. acnes encounters rosemary essential oil, it withers and dies, which I think could give us some proof that it is good for acne (although I've been going on the assumption that it's because of the oil fighting properties!).

This study noted, "...basil, rosemary, and sage essential oils did not show antifungal activity against Candida isolates at the tested concentrations."  And this study summarized: "The essential oil of R. officinalis showed strong antimicrobial activity against: S. aureus, S. epidermis, P. aeruginosa, E. faecalis, K. pneumonia, and E. coli, moderate effect against S. bruneii, and no effect against C. albicans. It was previously mentioned that the essential oil of R. officinalis exhibit a significant antibacterial activity only against K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa, although its activity against C. albicans is lower compared to the essential oils of Thymus sp. and Calamintha sp."

So it looks like rosemary essential oil is pretty good with bacteria, but not so great with yeasts/fungi. How does it work with larger creatures?

Rosemary essential oil "has been shown to be an effective repellent (Hori, 1998; Koschier & Sedy, 2003), fumigant, and contact insecticide against a range of insect and mite species, with particular efficacy against stored product pests..." and it might be an effective because of the "1,8-cineole and α-pinene were determined to be the most toxic constituents to the two-spotted spider mite" (Click here for the entirety of this study.)

So I think it's safe to say that rosemary essential oil has demonstrated anti-oxidant properties. What about the anti-microbial properties? I think the science is showing that rosemary essential oil has anti-bacterial properties but isn't so great for anti-fungal properties.

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at the science behind applying it to our skin or using it as aromatherapy!

Newbie Tuesday: A little more information about lotion making

Greetings newbies! If you're new to this concept, please click here for last week's post so you can play along! We're getting ready to make a lotion on the 24th, then a body butter, then a cream.

This week ask yourself this question: What is making you nervous when you think about making a lotion?

Are you scared of making a failed lotion? What's the worst thing you think could happen if you fail making a lotion? You'll waste supplies. You'll waste your time. You'll get your hopes up and have them dashed when you see that it's failed. You'll suck and be a bad person. (I don't believe this, but this is the kind of weird thing our brain believes!)

What's the best thing that could happen if you make a lotion and it works? You won't have wasted supplies. You'll be happy that you made a lotion and perhaps do a little dance (that the neighbours may or may not see). You'll post a picture of it on your favourite forum or perhaps tell the keeper of a blog you like to read about it (and send her a photo). How 'bout we focus on that part of the lotion making process!

Yep, you might fail. But that's one of the ways we learn. Keep notes throughout the entire process. Write down what happens in every phase so you can make the product again if it's a success, or avoid everything you did the first time with failures.

Let's take a look at the lotion making process and where people tend to make mistakes so we can avoid them next week! I'm breaking the lotion down into 4 phases - the prep phase, the heat and hold phase, the cool down phase, and the packaging phase.

This is the time when we get all our supplies and equipment ready for lotion making. Clean the surfaces in your workshop with a good cleaner, and ensure all your containers and stirring implements are clean. I like to use Pyrex jugs in my double boiler, and I tend to use metal spoons I bought from the restaurant supply store to stir. I fold a paper towel and put it near the double boiler so I can have somewhere to rest the spoons, but you can use any sort of spoon rest you like.

Mistakes that can be made: 

  • Not having a clean surface, which could lead to contamination. Fix this by cleaning your surfaces before starting.
  • Not having your supplies ready. Fix this by buying your supplies in advance and making sure you have space for all your supplies.

A note on cleaning your space: I know a lot of people are worried about not cleaning their spaces well enough for fear of contamination, which can lead to scary things growing in lotion. Clean your space well, but don't obsess about it. I clean my space with alcohol - sprayed - and clean my heating and mixing vessels and utensils. Don't let the dog lick your utensils, wear gloves, put your hair back, and follow general cleanliness rules. This isn't to say we have to be lax about cleaning, just that we don't need to make this is the reason we don't make lotions!

Put everything from the heated water phase into the heated water phase container. Weigh your container and write the number down so you can replace the water that evaporates. Put everything in the heated oil phase into the heated oil phase container. Put both containers into a double boiler and watch until it reaches 70˚C. When it reaches 70˚C, start your timer for 20 minutes!

After 20 minutes, remove from the heat, weigh the water container again and replace the evaporated water, then pour the water in the oil phase or the oil into the water phase. Mix!

Mistakes that can be made: 

  • Not heating and holding for 20 minutes at 70˚C. Please do this. I know there are people out there who tell you you don't have to do this. I will tell you to heat and hold because this is the biggest indicator of success or failure when making a lotion. If a lotion doesn't fail because of a poorly written recipe, it fails because the maker didn't heat and hold! (There are exceptions here, but not many!)
  • Putting the wrong thing in the wrong phase. In this lotion, we put the water in the heated water phase. The oil, butter, cetyl alcohol, and emulsifier go into the heated oil phase. And the preservative and the fragrance/essential oil go into the cool down phase.
  • Not replacing the water that evaporated during the heat and hold phase. Boil up some water and let it cool down. After the 20 minutes of heating and holding, weigh the water phase again, and add enough to total the original amount. Now add the water to the oil (or the oil to the water) and mix well.

After you mix the lotion well (click here for more information on possible mixing techniques), monitor the temperature until it reaches about 45˚C, then add the cool down ingredients. In this case, that would be your preservative and your fragrance/essential oil. Mix again. Leave to cool to room temperature.

You can't really make any major mistakes here, except for adding things to the cool down phase that shouldn't be here and not waiting for it to get to 45˚C. Just watch your preservative - some can cause the lotion to curdle.

This one's easy. Wait until it reaches room temperature, then put into a jar or bottle. I use a piping bag to get mine into the bottle, but there are loads of ways to do this. The only way to mess this is up is to re-use an old, unclean bottle.

So what is holding you back from making lotions? Let me know! And get ready to make it next weekend! By January 31st, you won't be able to say you've never made a lotion!