Saturday, September 28, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: When should you use a preservative? How to avoid dirty heels with lotion bars? How to tell if something's gone rancid?

I love Saturday mornings. I see comments come in all week, but this is the morning I get to write about what I was thinking. It's great fun, and I love to see how you respond.

I'm sick. I have the September back-to-school cold and I'm grumpy and annoyed about it. I spent yesterday in bed, but I'm a bit better today. It got me thinking of the benefits of peppermint essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil on our breathing, and that's why we use those things in cold products. So I went outside and enjoyed a little chilly fresh hair to see if it would help. It did, but I froze out the family!

In this post, When should you use a preservative?, Vanessa asks: I own a small natural body business. I made a sweet orange body butter and a month later it was moldy. Should I be using a preservative and what do you recommend? I use shea butter but have now switched to mango butter with almond oil it seems to be a better combination for my customers. Thanks. 

I'm not sure if you're using water or not, but whenever you use water in a product or have a product that might be exposed to water - like a sugar scrub - we must use a well tested, broad spectrum preservative. There are no exceptions to this rule.

I can't make any recommendations as I don't have enough information on your recipe, so I suggest checking out the preservatives section of the blog to see the downloadable comparison chart to figure out where you might start!

In this post, Lotion bars for very dry feet, Rachel asks: Hello there, thanks for such a wonderful site, I have set it as my home page so I don't miss anything. I was wondering if anyone else has the problem of getting dirty heels after using lotion bars? If I wear thongs (now I'm giving away where I'm from), my feet have lots of dirt stains on the heel. I love the idea of using lotion bars and wanted to know if there was an ingredient to add or remove. My lotion bar is beeswax, mango butter, jojoba and olive oil. 

There's pretty much nothing I can think of doing to avoid this as putting grease on your feet will attract dirt. I'd suggest putting on socks? Can anyone think of a suggestion or two?

In this post, Mechanisms of rancidity, Farrah asks: Thank you for explaining the mechanisms of oxidation; it's super useful. I have a few butters in my workshop and I'm not very familiar with how they smell when fresh (I bought them then never used them), and I'm having a hard time figuring out if they oxidized or not. There's illipe, kokum, mango and shea butters (all refined except the shea. There's cocoa too but I'm pretty sure that's still good; it smells delicious and I know that it stays good pretty long. Other than smelling, how can we tell if they've oxidized a lot? Are there other hints and clues that can help me figure out if they're still good to use? 

The short answer is that the only way to tell is to observe them. What does that mean? Smell them to see if they smell fresh and nice. Look at the colour of the product. Feel the product and test the viscosity by pouring it out. If they look good, then you can use them. Having said this, our oils start going rancid the moment they're turned into oils at the manufacturing plant, so there will always be rancidity.

I suggest putting a date on them and keeping them in the fridge or freezer, if you have room. And don't buy tons of an ingredient, even if if it's a good deal, if you aren't going to use it. There's no point in me buying a litre of olive oil every year as I'm just not going to use it, even if it's almost the same price for 500 ml!

In this post, Learning to formulate: making creams, Mary asks: I know that stearic acid is a thickener, I just want to use an emulsifier and no other waxes (especially one made with palm oil.) 

No, you don't need to use a thickener in a lotion. It's just a nice thing to do. And some of them - like the fatty alcohols or fatty acids - can help stabilize an emulsion as well. But feel free to leave it out and substitute another oil or butter or anything else you want. (Stearic acid isn't a wax - it's a fatty acid.)

Just a reminder, if you are interested in the classes I'm teaching at Voyageur Soap & Candle in Surrey, B.C., you will want to register soon as the first group is only three weeks away!

I've had a few people ask if I will teach in other locations far from home. Sure! Set something up and I'll come. I would need someone to pay for my transportation and lodging, though. Running youth programs and working for a non-profit charity doesn't leave a lot for travelling! (Wouldn't have it any other way, though!)

I'm still working my way through the comments, so watch for tomorrow's Weekend Wonderings!

1 comment:

Sabine Haller said...

Hmm - I live in Surrey, but sadly the wrong one, across the pond. I would have loved to go for a training session with you!

Great article, just one thing, if your Mango Butter smells rancid, don't throw it, it always smells a bit funny. I didn't know that and chucked out 1kg of it!!! I stick to Shea and cocoa now, at least I cna identify the freshness by smell there....