Saturday, September 8, 2012

Why did I buy that again? Cera bellina

Cera bellina (INCI:  Polyglycerol-3 Beeswax) is a form of beeswax in which the fatty acids have been esterified to create a polyglycerol that is more hydrophilic or water liking. It can be used in just about any product you want, including lotions and other water containing things. Anywhere you might use beeswax, you can use cera bellina.

What the heck is esterification? Esterification is a chemical reaction - for our purposes between a carboxylic acid (like a fatty acid from vegetable oils) and an alcohol - that leads to the creation of an ester and water (as a by-product). The alcohol is question here is glycerol or glycerin, as we can see in the name polyglycerol (meaning many glycerols). Want to know way more about esters? Click here for another page I've written about esters, or click here for a great page from the UK

As you can see, cera bellina comes in pastille form, which you can add to the heated oil phase of your products. The melting point is 63˚C to 73˚C, so you'll want to heat your ingredients to at least 73˚C and hold for a bit to melt every little pastille to the maximum melting point. I suggest using a double boiler instead of a microwave as there can be pockets of really hot and really cold bits in stuff heating in microwaves.

If you're using this in a lotion, for instance, you would put it into the oil phase and heat and hold as normal at 70˚C for 20 minutes.

Click here for more about heating and holding of lotion based products.
Click here for more about heating and holding anhydrous products! 

Why use it instead of beeswax? It can help eliminate those horrible little grains you get from butters, it can create oily gels, it can help make products a little more glidy (unlike beeswax, which makes things quite grippy), and it can help disperse pigments in things like lipsticks. As with other esters, it seems to have a slightly longer shelf life than beeswax - although the shelf life of beeswax is pretty long already - and it can help solubilize other oils. And it'll feel less greasy than beeswax. You can add it to a facial serum, for instance, to make a thicker version where the oils won't separate from each other, or you could use it to make an oily gel for a body scrub. This viscosity building feature is why I'm interested in it! 

You can use cera bellina to make an oily gel, and there are different amounts for different oils. For instance, Lotioncrafter notes that you will need about 8% for avocado oil, 12.3% for jojoba oil, and 25% for IPM! What I've seen suggested is to start at 10% to 15% to make an oily gel and take good notes for future reference. (Definitely click on the link to learn more - Jen has a ton of information on this ingredient!) 

To learn more about this here for a translated document from Aroma Zone with recipes and great pictures about viscosity or click here for Lotioncrafter's listing!

Join me tomorrow for the first of my experiments with cera bellina!

Related posts:
Better crafting through chemistry: Esters


Lise M Andersen said...

Thanks Susan!! I've been eyeing this ingredient for a while but haven't actually ordered it yet. I will now be following your experiments and posts with great interest! :)

Mychelle said...

Enabler! I'm looking at this on Lotioncrafter right now. :)

Aljonor said...

Hey Susan:
I have this same ingredient for a few months now and just decided to use today as an oil gel. I purchased mine from Theherbarie. However, their recommendation is:
1%-5% for oils,
1%-2% for emulsion, and
1%-20% for lip balms

I am going to try it at 2.5% for a gel oil. I will let you know the results.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lise. I'm posting my experiments with eye gels tomorrow morning.

Hi Aljonor. I have the suggestions from both Lotioncrafter and Aroma Zone, 10% for oils is supposed to make an oily gel. I wouldn't go below 10% - I tried 5% and it didn't really make a gel, more of a pourable liquid. I know Lotioncrafter notes different amounts for different oils, but it seems like 10% is a good place to start. I haven't used it in an emulsion yet or a lip balm, so I can't comment on those numbers.

I'm not sure where the Herbaries got their numbers, but I'd love to know more about why she'd suggest something different. If you have more information, let me know!)

Andrea said...

I couldn't find much info on this elsewhere on the net or at Lotioncrafter - is this a 1:1 replacement for beeswax (since it IS beeswax)? Or, since it has higher gelling potential, does it need to be used at a lower %?

I'm looking at this and various glycerides to prevent graininess in balms (mango butter issues mostly) without tempering (tempering works but takes agggges, and if you're making tiny, tiny batches with lots of variations to try all sorts of formulas and flavors the time adds up!)

Also, thank heaven for your blog. It's such a joy to read and I love the scientific accuracy of info here :D

Mary Walton said...

Has anybody tried using the cera bellina as an emulsifier in a o/w emulsification. As it can hold together very nicely at 5%, 95% of oils if the water phase was thickened with konjac would the CB be sufficient ? Wish I had some to try myself will somebody try this please?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Andrea. Sorry I missed your comment. Yes, replace it 1:1 for beeswax.

Hi Mary. You can't use this - or beeswax - as an emulsifier as neither has the right chemistry to do that. I'm wondering where you found this information as I can't find it on the data sheets or from the two suppliers to which I link. And I don't know much about konjac, but I thought that was water soluble? If it is, then you can't use it to thicken oils.

Mary Walton said...

Hi Susan thank you for your reply. I wanted to make a cold cream type of moisturiser. In the original Galen recipe the beeswax was used as the emulsifier, I thought the cera Bellina would do the same but better. Konjac in my opinion is fab. It is water soluble and can make runny to solid gels using half as much as xanthan, it is not snotty and gives a lovely skin feel.

Melanie said...

Does anyone know the HLB value of Cera bellina? All the sources I find just say "low HLB."

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Can you please put your name on your comment? I don't allow anonymous posts on this blog!

Can you please post your recipe and a bit more information on what you mean about it separating? What does this mean?

Nanette said...

Mary Walton or anyone who may know,
Where do you get your konjac? I'm not a big fan of using Amazon suppliers, personally, and I can't find it elsewhere.

Lee said...

You are amazing and I truly appreciate all the knowledge that you share. Blessings on your poor back. You have said no post is an old post, I hope that is true. I am interested in using cera belllini wax to make a hair “gel” from my pomade recipe. Would you be able to tell me first if CB could make a hair gel and second how might I adjust my current pomade recipe to make it more of a gel. This is my first time using CB instead of beeswax. I would like to make sure I have a strong starting place for experimenting without too much waste. Occasionally, I add some bentonite clay to the mix, but I did not know if this should be included in the measurements. My measurements may not be exact – no math whiz – but they should be close. Thank you for your assistance.
55% oil (blend – Avocado, Argan and Mustard Seed)
35% wax (beeswax)
10% butter (kokum)

Lee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

HI Lee! Nope, no post is an old post! I see the comments for all of them!

This is definitely something you'll have to experiment with in your workshop as there's no way to know what the end result will be. I honestly don't understand the idea of using something greasy in my hair - it's already incredibly oily - so I've never made products of this nature. The nature of experimenting is making something you don't like and learning from it, so there's a good chance you'll end up with something to throw away. Make small batches and keep good notes. Try substituting 10% cera bellina for the beeswax and see what happens. Or 20% or 30% and see what happens.

I have made some eye gels with this ingredient on the blog. Click "newer post" on this post to see the first one.

I know it sucks to make something that has to be thrown out, but experience is often the best teacher. I wouldn't know what I know if I hadn't thrown out a few products I hated!

Let me know how the experiments turn out!

Crombie said...

I have been using cera bellina as a replacement for beeswax in my Luxury Solid Lotion Bar. It is the second ingredient after Tallow and then follows with some premium oils. The combination, especially of tallow and cera bellina, in solid lotion bars is nothing short of skin-loving luxury. I just keep hoping it will come down in price.

Penny Sosebee said...

Hi Susan,
I recently received a wonderful lip scrub with vanilla beans. It is wonderful & I want to dupe it.
It is all oils & includes Lecithin. This scrub comes in a tube like hand cream & has a very nice consistency. Not like normal lip scrubs with sugar thrown in some oils.
I want to say almost slightly emulsified.
Would the Lecithin be contributing to this consistency or is it being used as an emollient?
My other question would be if I might possibly get close using Cera Bellina?

There are no other emulsifiers listed in the ingredient list so I don't think it's a typical emulsified scrub.

Thank you,
Penny S

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Penny! Sorry, but I don't think I can really help you as I don't know the product and haven't tried it. Lecithin can help emulsify things - check out the post on it in the emollients setion. I don't know the consistency, so I can't tell you if cera bellina will help get you there. It will thicken oils, which is pretty awesome, but I don't know if it'll thicken them enough to make this product. All I can suggest is that you try out a few different ingredients and see where it takes you. Keep good notes, and come back here and let us know what happens next!

Lisa said...

Hi Susan!

First of all, thank you for such a wonderful, informative blog! I have personally benefited from it a million times over. I also have a couple of your e-books, which are awesome!

I have used Cera Bellina in my lip balm and body butter recipe and LOVE the feel it brings. But, I am moving over to more natural products, and I'm pretty sure cera bellina would not fall into that category.

Would you be able to weigh in on this? Is this considered an all natural product? Is there a way to explain what it is to my natural customers that would satisfy them?

If not, I am going to have to hunt for a replacement.

Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Lisa or Susan,

Hi! I'm brand new to making my own products. I've been trying to find a body butter recipe to use my CB in but can't find any online. Can you tell me how much I would use in a recipe? I know its 75% solid/25% liquid. Most recipes I've seen call for 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup almond oil. How much CB would I add to this recipe and also do you have a different body butter or lip butter recipe that would work great with it as well? I have raw shea, mango and cocoa butters to use. Thanks and I love your blog Susan!

Rene Daniels said...

For the previous post about the body butter ^^^^^^^ Sorry it posted me as Unknown, I thought it would use my google Id. My name is Rene Thanks again! :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rene! I don't do things by cups and volume, so I'm afraid I can't help with a recipe like that. I'm not really sure what you mean. Are you wanting to make an anhydrous body butter with cera bellina to do what? Thicken it up? Because a recipe like the one you've quoted will be quite thick already and won't need cera bellina added to it. Any recipe you use of mine - generally 80% butter and 20% oil if you're using shea butter - won't need thickening.

If we can figure out your goal, we can offer more suggestions! Let us know!

suki-san said...

talk about an old,old response to a question from long ago, but it occurred to me that if Nanette no longer required an answer, someone else, i've seen this for sale online @ a U.S. company based in Portland,OR called Essential Wholesale & Labs (i think),they're online & pretty reasonable for cost..also, i got some cera bellina recently, but it wasn't called that, its called 'Smooth & Creamy Lotion Bar Additive'& its sold, again in the U.S. @ Wholesale Supplies Plus, online..hope this helps someone..thank you for a great & helpful blog, Susan!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Suki-san. As I mention repeatedly on the blog, there are no old posts as I see comments on all of them and loads of people read things that are more than a few weeks old on this blog. Thank you for sharing your supplier information. We really appreciate hearing from people who have made purchases about their experiences!

Anonymous said...

Hello! Can you tell me the shelf life of Cera bellina? I assumed it would last for years but... And would it be too much to ask about the life of Crothix, glycerin, Polysorbate 80? I know the seller can tell me, but I honestly think they may be giving me a shorter life than necessary. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello! Can you tell me the shelf life of Cera bellina? I think it would be several years, but would like to be sure before wasting any ingredients! Also, if it's not too much to ask, can you also tell me the approximate life of liquid crothix, polysorbate 80 and glycerin? I think I'm being told a much too short span by the seller and would like a second opinion! Thanks so much!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi CJ. I've written an answer to your question in Monday, January 9th's Weekday Wonderings. The short answer is that I suggest finding a supplier you can trust to give you accurate information. (I'm not being sarcastic. If you can't trust your supplier to give you accurate information, how can you possibly trust them with anything else?)

Oily McCoily said...

hi Susan~ thanks for all your invaluable information written in a way i can actually understand :) you mentioned that cera bellina can be used as a co-emulsifier, and also suggested using at 1-2% for emulsions. If i were to make a lotion incorporating cera bellina~ would i simply add it at 1-2%, or do i have to make adjustments so that my total emulsifer content (say e-wax and cera bellina) equal 25% of my oil phase? Or is my e-wax still 25% of my oil phase *plus* 1-2% cera bellina? I hope i managed to ask that clearly... I'm kinda like, a newborn at lotion making. Thank you in advance :)