Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekend wonderings: Mixing gums, filling bottles, and "natural chemicals"

In this post on high shear, Lucy Townsend asks: If using guar gum in shampoo making and oils, I just mix with a spoon, would this be considered to be a "low shear" method? Am I using the correct method?

Are you using guar gum or cationic guar gum? They have similar names, but they aren't the same thing.

Guar gum is non-ionic, can be used at 0.3% to 5%, and works best in the pH range of 5 to 7. Cationic guar gum is cationic (positively charged), should be used at 0.2% to 1%, and works best in a pH range less than 7. They are both soluble in water and glycerin, and form gels. The instructions for the usage of each is slightly different, though.

My instructions for guar gum call for it to be sprinkled over room temperature water and left to sit for 15 minutes before being stick blended. (This would be considered a high shear way of mixing.)  My instructions for cationic guar gum is to sprinkle it in water and stir occasionally for 15 to 30 minutes until it is well hydrated. It doesn't say how to mix the product, only that it needs to be mixed. I've never bothered to use anything but a fork to stir my guar gum and I've used a fork and mixer for cationic guar gum mixes with great success for both. But is this is the right way to do it?

I checked with a few suppliers, and only Lotioncrafter offered instructions on how to use the cationic guar: "Add GuarCat™ to the vortex of well-agitated water and mix until dispersed. Adjust to pH 7.0 or less to remove the boron treatment and promote hydration of the polymer (citric acid can be used to adjust the pH as needed). Continue mixing for 15 minutes for full viscosity development." As you can see, they are recommending we use mixing stronger than using a spoon because of the words "well agitated". I'm not sure what equipment is necessary to well agitate the water, but I've used a hand mixer in the past and it seems like the water was well agitated there.

What is the right way to do it? I'm not sure. I don't have enough information. I'm gathering together what I have, but if using a spoon is working for you, then continue with that until we learn otherwise!

What do you suggest, my lovely readers? Do you have some links for me? I'd love to read more!

Related posts:
Anionic, cationic, and non-ionic?
Chemistry Thursday: Let's take a look at pH

A side note: Dear Suppliers: Could you please put the instructions on how to use your ingredients on the listing on your site? I don't need an essay, but something like this in the post somewhere would be nice. "This ingredient is water soluble, and can be used in the heated water phase of your products at up to x%. It can handle temperatures up to x˚C." It gets really frustrating to buy something from you and not have a quick reference on how to use it. I know it requires a bit more work from you, but it shows us that you know your ingredients!

And as another side note, if you want to know how to use an ingredient, check out Lotioncrafter. She has great write ups about her ingredients, and there are tons of data sheets available. Yes, Jen Welch carries my e-books and generates a lot of donations for me, so I am a bit biased about how great she is as a person, but the site is really well written and offers tons of information I have yet to see at any other supplier's sites. (If you have a favourite, well written site to which you refer regularly, post it in the comments and I'll check them out!)

In this post, melian1 shares: If you're using weirdly shaped bottles, like tottles, put it into a Pyrex jug or cup to stabilize it. And I wanted to share how I cope with bottles that don't stand on their own. I have got a large tub left over from using lard to make soap with, and I filled it halfway with rice. I plunge the tubes or bottle partway into the rice (the tub will hold several), and it remains upright and easy to pour into. Anything that spills or dribbles, after the bottles are removed from the tub, I just take out the clumped rice and toss it. Between times, I keep the lid on it, and re-use the same rice over and over, just tossing what gets messy and re-filling as necessary.

Great idea! I'm going to try this next time. I have some sand in the house - we had it for our wedding - and I'll try that! Thanks for sharing!

In this post on creating mineral make-up, Anonymous asks: How natural are these ingredients? I'm not big on chemicals. Thanks. Then Patti G asks: I have a question on the comment above about the Natural chemicals. I have removed all store bought bad for you chemical products from our house and bodies. Are all these ingredients good for your body and health? Or are they like the store bought products? Thank you for all this Great information. Patti G

Nothing on this planet is "chemical free". Please see this post - chemicals are your friends - or this one - International Year of Chemistry - or this one - I'm chemical free - to see why it is impossible for anything to be chemical free. Chemicals are all around us. They make up our air, water, bodies, environment, and...well, everything. Anything composed of elements from the periodic table of elements is a chemical, which means that everything is a chemical. 

If you are committed to using or not using certain ingredients in products, it's up to you to do the work figuring out what you want to use and what you won't. It takes time and energy to find reputable sources who can offer good information you can trust, and it takes time and energy to find the products or ingredients you will use. There's a lot of misinformation floating around about ingredients, and sometimes it's hard to find a reputable source. (For instance, does SLS cause cancer? Read this Snopes entry to learn more!) 

Related posts: 

I'm not sure how to answer something asking me if the ingredients are "good for your body or health". There is an objective answer and a subjective answer. The objective answer is that all the ingredients I use on this blog are "generally recognized as safe" and have suggested usage limits. (Check out this link.) Cosmetics are regulated by a bunch of governmental agencies in just about every country on this planet, contrary to what some people might think. 

The subjective answer? Check out this post called Question: Are the ingredients I use on the blog safe? I use them on my husband, my mom, my best friends, and the kids in my youth programs - would I do that if they weren't safe? 

Every ingredient we use is "naturally derived" in that every ingredient we buy uses natural resources to make them. Our surfactants come from coconuts, palm kernel oil, sugar, and so on. Our emulsifiers come from things that contain fats, usually coconuts or palm kernel oil. Some things are derived from petrochemicals, but petrochemicals are natural ingredients, too. Calling something "derived from..." is technically true because everything we buy is derived from something in nature, but it might be miles and miles away from the original. Calling silicones "naturally derived" from sand might be accurate, but it isn't right. 

To answer the question, I have entries on each of the ingredients I use in my mineral make-up base and you could do a search or click on the section of the blog called mineral make-up on the right hand side of the blog. (Here are links to the ingredients in the eye shadow post - sericite mica, titanium dioxide, and Dry-Flo. It's up to you to read them and decide if you want to include them in your life!) 

I hope you don't feel I'm making fun of you, Anonymous and Patti G. When I first started making products, I wanted things that were "chemical free" and natural, but I soon learned that I was using the wrong language and was happy someone took the time to talk to me about these things. I quickly learned to love my synthetic and not-so-natural ingredients when I found out they weren't horrible and poisonous and dangerous! 

Have a weekend wondering? Visit this post and share your thoughts!


Lise M Andersen said...

Hi Susan,

I work with Guar Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride for several things and have always - depending on how thick I want the gel - dissolved up to 3% into room temperature demineralized water (stirring gently for 10 minutes), then adding citric acid to lower the pH and thicken to gel-like consistency. I've never found it necessary to use a stick blender when I use this method. With lower concentrations (1% and under), though, I find the gel will go more liquid after about 24 hours

Michele Clarke said...

For 6oz Malibu bottles I stick them inside a paper towel roll. Fits perfectly. Now my 8oz bottle didn't and I had to juggle a bit.

Lyn said... also has a wonderfully helpful website. Each ingredient has instructions on use and a link to a sample recipe and MSDS sheet. They also have a pretty good formulary and a lot of resources on making cosmetics. It is a very fun website :-)