Have something you want to ask? Visit the Weekend Wondering comment post and ask away!
In an e-mail, Brittany asks: I've struggled with the heating of the water phase for a while now. You suggest to heat the water phase for 20 minutes, but to add more than the needed amount to account for evaporation. I find that after 20 minutes, most of my water is completely gone so I'm stuck with having to add more and reheat. This continues until I just end up adding the unsterilized amount I need to make up for evaporation. Any tricks to make this easier or am I just missing something?
I answer this question in great detail in this post - question: compensation for evaporation - but the basic idea is to heat and hold some water in a separate container and add it to the product after you remove the heated water phase from the double boiler. I measure out my heated water phase, weigh the entire container before heating, and add back what I lost at the end of the process. You can boil up some water and let it cool down to 70˚C to 80˚C as well. Please use distilled water for this process.
You don't want to add non-heated water to the heated water phase because it will mess with temperatures, which can lead to a serious lotion fail.
If you are losing all your water, something is happening that isn't quite right. Even making a 100 gram batch of lotion (say you have 60 grams of water) shouldn't result in losing all the water. Those Pyrex type jugs I have above will lose a lot more water than one that is partially covered - see this post for more information - so you might want to reconsider using another type of container. Perhaps putting a piece of plastic over the container to stop such huge amounts of evaporation would help?
As a quick note, I don't remember suggesting adding more water to the water phase at the start of the heating process. My suggestion has always been to add more similar temperature water at the end of the process. If you find a post where I suggest adding more, please let me know so I can correct that!
Surface area and evaporation
In this post on emulsifying systems, Sera asks: I was wondering if you can use Polawax for a lip balm, instead of beeswax? I have Polawax at home but no beeswax and I really want to make a moisturizing lip balm.
No. Emulsifying wax is not a wax - it is an emulsifier. Beeswax is what we would consider to be a traditional type of wax. The two are NOT interchangeable in any way. Adding it to a lip balm will make it taste weird, and it won't have any of the stiffness we come to associate with a lip balm.
Waxes are used to stiffen our products without making them too brittle, increase the melting temperature, and add structure to a product. Emulsifying waxes are used to bring water and oil together in a product to create emulsions. They are not even remotely close to each other in function. You can find beeswax in small white or yellow pellets, but this appearance is a coincidence.
Part of the confusion is the name - beeswax and e-wax do sound similar - but if you want to see if one can be used in place of the other, ask your self about the function of the ingredient. If I want to create a lotion, I need an emulsifier, therefore I should choose e-wax. If I want to create a lotion bar that is stiff and only melts on contact with my skin, then I want to use beeswax. We can use beeswax in our lotions to add a bit of drag and tenacity, but beeswax isn't an emulsifier.
Great question, Sera! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Question: Mixing oils and water
How do some people manage to get water soluble things into anhydrous products?
In this post on bath bombs, Anonymous comments: Epsom salts?
I think this is in relation to the idea that one can put Epsom salts into a bath bomb. I haven't tried this. Have you? What were your results? I'd love to know what you thought of making and using a product like this!
Definitely don't put Dead Sea Salts into a bath bomb - they are very hygroscopic and will set off the fizz in your products while they are sitting waiting to be packaged!