Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Preserving difficult to preserve products. Adding beeswax to any lotion recipe.

Is it really November 30th? It really is starting to smell and look at a lot like Christmas, eh? Michael's smells like a Christmas cake bomb just went off in the middle of the store, and it gives me such a headache! (Which is saying a lot because I'm not scent sensitive and I love love love cinnamon and nutmeg!) My mom has finished up the Christmas cake and pudding - a little late, but that's my fault for not being available to make it with her - and we've received the first of our Christmas cards! 26 days to go!

A happy late Thanksgiving to my American readers, and Happy Hannukkah to our Jewish friends!

In this post on minimally processed ingredients, Ali asks: I made a facial scrub a while ago, combining powdered milk, ground oats, powdered rose petals and powdered sandalwood (very fine). My idea was to mix it with rose water on the spot and apply it as a face mask or simply rub it as a scrub. Since I left it in my bathroom to apply it during my showers, it did get some water in it.. And… got very moldy… I actually kept using it for a while, because it made my skin feel so amazing every time, like there was some kind of chemical process going on in that mixture that got "oilier" and left my skin feeling sooo soft and bright. It smelled like blue cheese at the end so I guessed it was time to let it go, despite the amazing effects it was having on my skin! SO…my question is: What happened in there? Was it an extremely unsafe thing to do? AND: I'd like to give this magic mix to my friends for christmas, but I wouldn't like them getting the cheesy part of it.. Are there any very safe preservatives I could add to it? or should I just explain that NO WATER should get in the mixture? 

What you did was astoundingly unsafe, and I would be hesitate to recommend that you share this recipe with friends and family as they might end up in the same place. When we're using botanical or natural ingredients like milk and oats and roses, we need to preserve the product very well or keep it away from water. Every time you dip your hand into that container, you're adding more fuel to the bug filled fire, contaminating it even further. You can add a very good preservative like Germaben II at its full strength, but I'm loathe to suggest that given what happened the first time you made it.

If you really want to make this again, get yourself individual packages and store them that way with instructions to use only dry hands with the product and to use each package once and once only. Tell your friends and family your tale of blue cheese skin scrub and remind them not to get any water in the packages. But remember, I hesitate to suggest this to you as it sounds like a really bad idea.

Please please please, dear and gentle readers, when something has mold or growth in it, throw it away. Do not continue to use the product. Trust your nose and your eyes and get rid of it. I shudder to think what could happen if we spread these products on our skin or near our eyes, nose, or mouth. Gah!

So what can we do to preserve difficult to preserve products? The first thing I'd do is use a broad spectrum preservative designed for high levels of botanicals - something like Germaben II - and add a secondary preservative at a lower level. The second thing I'd do is consider the container in which I was storing said product. Different packages offer different levels protection, and you could pick something where you dispense the product instead of dipping your wet hands into it. Or consider single use containers, like baggies or vacuum sealed bags. Finally, consider your product. Some products seem really awesome, but end up being impractical or just plain gross after a while.

In this post on zinc oxide cream, erinwray2 asks: This evening I made a lotion as well with humectants (honey and glycerin in the water phase) I really like your recipe it worked out great. Now I'm trying to make up my own recipe to help my daughter with her eczema. I found some findings at a university experiment that beeswax, raw honey, olive oil/ or coconut oil mixed together helped heal eczema suffers. So I made up a bunch for her to test out and it works wonders! better than the medicated stuff I spent $100 on. Now my question for you is do you have any posts on adding beeswax to lotions? I saw that it can be added as a thickener right? But wouldn't know how to add it to a recipe. I like the 'modified first lotion recipe with humectants because I use the raw honey in that and then the oils in the oil phase. So I just need to add my beeswax but don't know where to start. Any suggestions on a post. Thanks again!!

Thanks for your kind words on the recipe. (I encourage everyone to offer feedback on any recipes you try from this blog so I can make changes or promote those to others!)

Beeswax can be a great addition to a lotion to make it more tenacious after washing or just after a long day of being on your skin, but it can feel a bit more waxy than we'd like at over 3% (just my opinion), so I'd stay at or below that level. Remove up to 3% from any of your oils and butters and add the beeswax. 

6% Polawax
11% liquid oils
10% butter
3% cetyl alcohol

Remove 3% from the butters - that would be my suggestion - or even remove the cetyl alcohol if you feel it's too thick when the lotion cools. 

6% Polawax
11% liquid oils
7% butter
3% cetyl alcohol
3% beeswax 

It really is that simple! Let us know how it turns out! 

In this post on heating and holding equipment, Lynda asks: I see in the photo above you are using what looks like light weight polypropylene beakers. How do you keep them from floating to the top? I tried using them in a pan full of water with a wire rack on the bottom. I placed them on the wire rack and they floated and careened to the top of the water. I had to balance a plate on top of them to weigh them down. I got away with it, but I worried about the effects of condensation. I made a 100 gram (total) batch, so my ingredient didn't weigh a lot. 

I am using lightweight plastic beakers I bought at Lotioncrafter, but sometimes I use lightweight plastic jugs, and the key is to put more than a few grams in the container and not to have a ton of water in the double boiler. If you take a look at the picture, you can see there's a decent amount of each phase in the container - if I remember correctly, there should be at least 100 grams in each container, minimum - and I don't have a lot of water. I will remove water until the containers don't float. As well, don't have the water boiling or roiling in any way or it will destabilize the containers. 

In the same post, Dan asks: I see in one of your posts you mention using a metal rack and that sometimes you forget to use it. What is the metal rack that you use on the bottom of your Fondue Pot?

I have to admit that I don't use the metal rack that often. Generally only when I've got one container and I'm heating it up quite high. I had a Pyrex jug shatter from being on the heat shortly after I started making products as I didn't realize it had a little crack in it, and I made a point of using the rack a lot after that. But I'm getting lazy and complacent as time goes on...

I have a rack that you could get at the dollar store or a kitchen store with little feet on it. It's intended to go on the bottom of a pot when you're canning. (I would put a picture of mine, but I have no idea where it is and the workshop is a mess from all the craft groups I've been doing lately!) Here's a nice DIY version of a rack! 

Join me tomorrow as we continue taking a look at the comments and questions you've had on the blog over the last few weeks! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

(Early) Weekend Wonderings: Substitutions for mango butter,

Happy Black Friday! And thanks for your lovely Thanksgiving wishes, but I'm Canadian, and our holiday is the second Monday of October. But I'll always happily accept good wishes and blessings any time of the year! I'm not going near the shops today because I don't really do crowds, so let's spend some time looking at the comments we've seen in the last few weeks!

In this post with the anhydrous primer recipe, Jing Yi Kenny Tan asks: It's difficult to get mango butter where I'm from. If I were to replace it, do you recommend shea butter or cocoa butter? (I live where it's summer the whole year.)

Eek! My most hated season all year round! Why is there nowhere where it's early spring or late fall all year 'round? (I get the physical reasons about the earth going around the sun and the angle at which we're tilted, but that doesn't mean I have to accept it!)

It's hard to make a blanket substitution for our butters as it depends upon the application. In the case of the anhydrous primer, the goal is to create a solid stick that offers low greasiness and high whiteness to create a blank canvas for our eye shadow. Shea butter probably wouldn't be a good choice for that as it is a greasy, less stiff feeling butter than mango. Cocoa butter would be a better choice as it's less greasy feeling than shea butter and will give the stick some stiffness. You might have to play around with the proportions in the recipe as cocoa butter is harder than mango. So you could put in less cocoa butter or less beeswax. Don't make a lot of this - say a 50 gram batch - and play around with that a little bit.

If you were to ask this question about a whipped butter, a product in which scooping a product from the container is one of the goals, you'd want to consider using mango butter because it's less stiff than cocoa butter. If we were talking about a lotion bar, either would be an acceptable substitution, depending upon the skin feel you wanted. If you wanted something slightly greasier, use shea butter and up the beeswax slightly. If you wanted something less greasy than shea butter, use cocoa butter and decrease the beeswax slightly.

When you're substituting one ingredient for another, always keep the goal in mind. For the most part, you can substitute one butter for another, but remember that you'll be changing the skin feel and you could change the viscosity or stiffness of the product, so choose it with those factors in mind.

Eeting mentioned in this post that she added the oil to the water phase very slowly, over 10 minutes. Please don't do this. Just pour the oil into the water phase (or the water into the oil phase) at a normal rate, then mix. There's no value in doing it really slowly!

In this post on the pumpkin seed lotion, Marjo asks: I loved this cream! Used grapeseedoil for I like the skin feel. It is very fluffy, if I'd turn it into a salve sudocrem alike would I get that stiffness by incorporating stearic acid into the recipe? 

I have no idea what sudocrem is, but you can substitute cetyl alcohol and stearic acid for the other in most recipes to change the thickness. Cetyl alcohol offers more glide and is thinner and silkier feeling than stearic acid, which tends to be thicker and stiffer with more drag. (Sarah once coined the rhyme, "Cetyl is slick while stearic is thick!" which is a great description.)

Related posts:
Why include stearic acid?

Join me tomorrow as I catch up on comments and take a look at what you want to know! (I am working on comments from mid-month. It's been a busy couple of weeks!)

Monday, November 25, 2013

What do you want to know?

I'm getting ready to write a week of Newbie Tuesday posts to go with my whole "it's Christmas, so here's how you make things" and I wanted to incorporate some of the things you want to know into the series. One of the really fun things about teaching is learning from participants what they want to know, right then as they make the products, and I thought I could work with some of those questions you have on the blog.

You don't have to be a newbie to have questions! (In fact, I think I have more questions now that I'm an experienced formulator, but I feel more confident in where to find the answers!) What do you want to know about making your own products? Questions about ingredients, substitutions, processes, equipment, and so on are all welcomed.   If you're stuck on how to make a double boiler, what oils can be substituted for other oils, or how to heat and hold, ask the question! Remember - there are no stupid questions, only questions not asked!

In the meantime, I'm gathering together posts that will offer more information to newbies and veterans alike on the process of making products. If you want to run ahead, may I suggest you start with the creating product series, which I developed more for newbies, or the formulating lotions and creams series, which I developed more for experienced lotion crafters. (In either case, hit "newer post" at the bottom of each page to move to the next entry.

I can't wait to see what you want to know!

Oh, and please subscribe to the post so you can see my questions, comments, or answers. People are asking questions that require a follow up question for me, and it means your question will go unanswered! 

These pictures are from my class at Voyageur Soap & Candle. The top one is of the classroom, and the bottom is of the shop from the classroom. I love that place! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: How should we heat our ingredients?

Hi everyone! I'm off to teach my lotion making class at Voyageur this morning, so I only have a few minutes to look at your comments. There'll be more tomorrow morning as I have the whole day off! I can't believe it! 

In this initial post on duplicating products, Sherry asks: Do you recommend any particular tools to start off with? I noticed a woman on Youtube using beakers and some sort of little mini stove/heater system. Not sure if I should invest in some sort of set or just use the stove?

You don't want to expose your ingredients to direct heat, like putting them in a pot, so we use a double boiler to heat them. You can create one on your stove top with a large pot filled with water with a smaller container on top, or you could buy a device to help. Because I make my things in my workshop, a place without a stove, I use my Rival fondue pot. It can hold quite a lot - I can get three Mason jars in there at once or a few beakers - and I can control the heat. But the stove is a good option.

If you are interested in the fondue pot, it's a great time of year to get it. I've seen it on sale for $29 to $35 in Canada. It's harder to find other times of the year. And it makes a great present! 

Related posts:
Weekend Wonderings: Creating a double boiler (scroll down)
Creating products: Equipment (part 1)
Creating products: Equipment (part 2)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pumpkin seed oil: Making a zinc oxide cream for my husband

In yesterday's post, we made a light lotion with pumpkin seed oil. Today I want to modify that lotion to include some zinc oxide.

So what's the deal with zinc oxide and why would I include it in a lotion? It is approved for use as an anti-chafing and soothing ingredient (in the U.S. it is classified under category 1, skin protectant). It is slightly astringent, so it is great for oily or inflamed skin. It is anti-septic, anti-microbial, and fungicidal, so it can act as a treatment for annoyed skin as well. And finally, it's good for relieving the prickly feeling and irritation of heat, so it's a good choice for summer products. As my husband will be working outside in this cold and windy weather, we thought it would be nice to have something he could use to help protect his skin or repair it.

How do we modify yesterday's recipe to include zinc oxide? Add 10% to 20% in the cool down phase of the recipe and mix well. (I like 20%.) Yes, that really is it. You can do this with any recipe. Add 1% to 20% zinc oxide in the cool down phase and mix well. It can be a body butter, heavy cream, light lotion, regular lotion, etc. Add some zinc oxide and you have a zinc oxide cream!

And yes, I'm a huge jerk for making you wait until today to see that one little modification. 

What do I think of this? Look at how fluffy the product remains, even with that zinc oxide in it! It goes on lovely - but very white.

Some of you might be asking what the SPF of this product would be because zinc oxide is a physical sunscreen. It isn't any SPF. We can't and won't make our own sunscreen around here. Heck, we're pushing the boundaries of what we can say about a product by saying that it might repair chapped skin! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pumpkin seed oil: Making a light lotion

I've been having fun playing with my one oil lotions, so I thought I'd try making a pumpkin seed oil lotion with Polawax that I could turn into a zinc oxide lotion for my husband.

What is my goal for this lotion? I want something that will offer some occlusive properties, some protection properties, and a whole lot of soothing and barrier repair mechanism properties for a lotion to help my husband when he's been out in the cold and wind at work for the night. Because it's going on his face, I want something that doesn't feel too heavy or greasy. I also want something I can use when I come home from a day outside or in the cold for my hands and body.

What can I include in a lotion of this nature? When I'm looking at a protecting lotion, I always turn to the big three approved occlusive and barrier ingredients - cocoa butter, allantoin, or dimethicone. I don't want to include cocoa butter as he will be using this on his face and he has oily skin, so I'll leave that out. I quite honestly didn't even think of using dimethicone - not really sure why as I love the stuff! - so my barrier ingredient will be allantoin at 0.5% in the heated water phase.

I'm using chamomile hydrosol, my favourite soothing hydrosol, aloe vera, and witch hazel to offer anti-inflammatory properties. If you don't have these things, you could use distilled water in their place or something like 0.5% powdered chamomile extract in the cool down phase.

I'm using glycerin as my humectant because it not only draws water from the atmosphere to our skin, but it also restores normal hydration in the stratum corneum, increases skin elasticity, and improves impaired barrier recovery. All of these things are great for skin that might be chapped or damaged in some way.

I'm using hydrolyzed silk protein because its low molecular weight means it will penetrate the skin and behave as a humectant. I'm using polyquat 44 as my cationic polymer because it offers skin conditioning and moisturizing at a level of 0.5%, which is pretty awesome!

In my heated oil phase, I'm using 24% oils as I know that'll make a light to medium weight lotion. I'm using 19% pumpkin seed oil because I know I want 2% IPM to make it feel less greasy and 3% cetyl alcohol to make it slightly thicker, leaving me with 19% of the 24%. With Polawax, you want to use 25% of the total oil phase in emulsifier, so 24 * .25 = 6%. So there's my heated oil phase.

I want to include Vitamin E in my lotion as both an anti-oxidant and a skin softener at 1% in the cool down phase. And I have to include panthenol at 2% in the cool down phase because it improves stratum corneum hydration, reduces redness and inflammation, increases wound healing by stimulating skin epithelialization, improves skin barrier mechanism repair, mitigates itching and soothes irritation, and behaves as a humectant. How can you not want to include this?

And finally we need our preservative. I'm choosing to use liquid Germall Plus because it's my favourite. I can use it at up to 0.5% in the cool down phase. You can choose another suitable broad spectrum preservative you prefer.

28% distilled water
10% aloe vera liquid
10% witch hazel
10% chamomile hydrosol
3% glycerin
0.5% polyquat 44
2% silk protein
0.5% allantoin

6% Polawax
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM
19% pumpkin seed oil

1% Vitamin E
2% panthenol
0.5% liquid Germall Plus (or preservative of choice)

Please use the basic lotion making instructions for this product.

1. Weigh your water phase into a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

1a. Weigh your total water phase on a scale - jug and all - so we can compensate for the lost water before mixing. And set some water in a separate container to heat. A pot with water on the stove or boiling up the kettle works well. You don't need to boil it the whole time - bring it to boiling now and you'll have some less-than-boiling water for step 3a.

2. Weigh your oil phase into a heat proof container and put into a double boiler.

3. Heat both phases to 70˚C and hold for 20 minutes. This is to kill any nasties that might be in any of our ingredients, as well ensuring both phases are the same temperature when we mix them together. (This is part of the emulsification process - the heating part of emulsification.)

3a. Remember how we measured the water phase in step 1a? Measure it again - zero your scale and measure the jug and all. Add enough of the warm water to get you to the total weight from step 1a.

4. When both phases reach 70˚C, pour the water phase into the oil phase and mix very well with a stick blender or hand mixer (or Kitchenaid if you're a lucky person!). Mix periodically as the temperature drops.

5. When you reach 45˚C, add your cool down ingredients and mix very well.

6. Allow the lotion to come to room temperature before bottling. If you are using jars, just glop in what you have made. If it's a lighter lotion, you could probably pour it into the bottle with a funnel. For thicker lotions, I have found using a piping bag (disposable, from the cake or chocolate decorating store) is the easiest way to get things into bags.

So what do I think of this lotion? I really like this one. It is light feeling when I put it on and light feeling when it's on my skin, but I know it's there. I would say it's about medium greasy. It's not too greasy, but not too dry feeling either. An hour after application, I can still feel there's a sheen of oil on my skin and it looks a tad shiny, but it's not greasy.

As an aside, I was surprised at how fluffy the lotion was when I finished mixing. (I thought I took a picture, but I didn't...sigh...) I think this is because I didn't include a butter.

Join me tomorrow as we turn this into a zinc oxide lotion!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Whew, I'm exhausted!

Sorry for the silence, but I'm exhausted after our International Gaming Day @ library event on Saturday. (Want to see the map? Click here!) We spent almost 8 1/2 hours playing board & card and video games with 73 participants ages 2 to adult! The girls made an astonishing number of cupcakes and cookies, and we cooked more hot dogs and buns than I can count!

Thanks to readers like you who support our youth programs! We really really really appreciate it!

Six ingredient lotion: Meadowfoam seed oil and cocoa butter

As I'm researching the ingredients you suggested in last week's Why the heck did I buy this and what can I do with it Wednesday, let's take a look a six ingredient lotion we could make with meadowfoam seed oil. (Wow, that's a whole lotta links in one sentence, eh?)

Meadowfoam seed oil is a light, slightly greasy feeling oil that has a long shelf life and can boost the shelf life of other oils. I thought it would be nice to combine it in a lotion with Ritamulse SCG as the emulsifier because that offers a slightly thickened and dry feeling, with a little cetyl alcohol to offer thickening, slip, and glide.

In the water phase, I used distilled water with 3% glycerin as my humectant and 0.5% allantoin to work as my barrier ingredient. (I would normally use a combination of cocoa butter, allantoin, and dimethicone as my three approved barrier ingredients, but I only had six ingredients to work with, and dimethicone was one too many!)

If you're the type who thinks about things being natural, I would say you could call this lotion 95.5% natural as Ritamulse SCG is Ecocert. The 4.5% I don't consider natural would be my fragrance oil, preservative, and cetyl alcohol.

63% water
3% glycerin
0.5% allantoin

5% cocoa butter
16% meadowfoam seed oil
3% cetyl alcohol
8% Ritamulse SCG

0.5% preservative (liquid Germall Plus)
1% fragrance oil

Weigh the heated water phase in a heatproof container and put into a double boiler. Weigh the heated oil phase in a heatproof container and put into a double boiler. Heat both phases until both reach 70˚C and hold for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and mix. When the lotion reaches about 45˚C, add the liquid Germall Plus, and fragrance and mix well. Bottle, and rejoice.

A double batch of this made 6 ounces or 180 ml of lotion for me.

What do I think of it? As a body lotion, it's a bit thin for my tastes. I found it to be quite watery as I put it on, and it didn't stay greasy long enough for me to rub it in as well as I would have liked. After two hours, it didn't feel like I had really applied any lotion to my skin, and the next morning, it definitely wasn't there.

As a hand lotion, it was awesome. It was light feeling and moisturized without leaving a greasy sheen behind. (The features that made it a less than stellar body lotion made it a really great hand lotion, which really goes to show you it really is about the goals and purpose of a product!)The allantoin and cocoa butter are in there to help create the barrier to keep the world out, so using this as something like a crafting hand lotion would work well!

If I wanted to thicken it as a body lotion, I'd go to 10% cocoa butter or another butter to make it thicker or I'd use a thicker feeling oil like rice bran or olive oil with the meadowfoam seed oil. I wouldn't change anything as a hand lotion!

Remember that using different ingredients than I've used here will change the skin feel. If you use e-wax or Polawax, this will be a greasier feeling lotion, so consider using mango butter in place of some of the cocoa butter so it'll stay less greasy feeling. BTMS-50 or Rita BTMS-225 will make it feel slightly drier than my version. Feel free to use cetearyl alcohol in place of the cetyl alcohol for a waxier feeling lotion, and feel free to replace the meadowfoam seed oil for any other oil or ester you like. Feel free to try other liquids in place of the water, such as aloe vera or a flowery hydrosol. 

Have fun formulating! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Covering up medicinal hydrosol smells? How long does Vitamin E extend a shelf life? What is rosemary extract - anti-oxidant or preservative?

In this post, Making a toner for the oily skin type, Lynda asks: I made the toner recipe above and I don't like the way it smells. I love the scent of fresh rosemary, but the brand new rosemary hydrosol I opened to make this has a medicine smell about it . I find that most hydrosols have that bit of a medicine smell to them. Is this normal? Alas, I don't really like the scent of witch hazel either. Any ideas about a good essential oil to add here that might freshen things up? 

I'm with you! Those medicinal smells are normal (although I find chamomile a bit musty smelling), but some of us need to cover them up with something else. What works? You can use a small amount of an essential oil - maybe 0.5% - and make sure that this will work on your face. Tea tree might be a good choice, but that's kind of medicinal as well. You don't want anything that might be minty - tingling might not be a good idea on lips and near eyes - and I don't suggest anything too earthy. You might be smelling this all day, so consider what you really like. You could do lavender essential oil - although I wouldn't like that - or consider something like vanilla essential oil or extract.

If you aren't adverse to fragrance oils, I found that a light scent, like green tea or cucumber, at 0.5% can chase the medicinal smells away and it isn't horrible on your face all day.

Anyone have any great suggestions? I admit I'm not that fond of most of the smells of essential oils as they're either too floral or too earthy! 

In this Weekend Wondering post, Stacy asks: I have a question that I can't seem to find an answer to: What is the exact (or approximate) time frame that Vitamin E extends the shelf life of an anhydrous product? Days? Months? 

As I mention in this post on anti-oxidants (found in the FAQ), there are just too many variables to figure out the shelf life of a product beyond an estimate, and that gets even more complicated with anti-oxidants.

How old is the oil when you use it? How are you storing the product? What's the temperature? Opaque or clear container? These are things that can speed up or slow down oxidation, so they will have an effect on your product.

If you store a lotion bar with a shelf life of six months in your bathroom where the heat is on and people are taking a warm, steamy showers twice a day, you'll have a shorter shelf life than one left in my unheated workshop through the winter. Add some Vitamin E to the product and it'll last longer, but we simply don't know how much longer.

Based on my own experience, I have found that my lotions avoid rancidity much longer than I would expect. For instance, the lotions I made for last Christmas smell as fresh as the day I made them, and they should have had a life span of less than a year. (I know anecdotes don't make up data, so please take this as an example.)

In this post, Lotions: a basic recipe, Anonymous asks: What do you think of rosemary extract, or ROE, as a preservative?

I don't because it isn't. Rosemary extract is an anti-oxidant, something that retards rancidity in our oils and oil soluble ingredients. A preservative is something that prevents contamination of our water containing products by things like bacteria or yeast.

Related posts:
Rosemary essential oil
Preservative section of the blog
A closer look at anti-oxidants
Rancidity: A primer
Mechanisms of rancidity

I better run! International Gaming Day @ the library beckons!

International Gaming Day @ the library

Today's the International Gaming Day @ the library event, the most wonderful day of the year! Something like 1400 libraries around the world are taking part in the largest board & card game and video game event in the world. I encourage you to check out your local library and drop by for a bit to see what they do there!

We're celebrating it from 12 to 8 at the Yarrow library in the gym. We've got all the video game systems, including a Pokemon zone for DS and 3DS play, and all our board games. If you live in the Fraser Valley, I encourage you to stop by and say hi and have some fun playing Just Dance or Rock Band or Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. or any number of other games. It's going to be great fun!

If you can't make it to gaming day at the library today, try to make it to your local library in the next week or so just for a visit. Look at some books, take some out, see what they have to offer - support your local! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Newbie Tuesday: Recipe 101

I think the most frequently asked questions on this blog are about figuring out recipes, so let's take a look at these concepts briefly before I refer you off to the posts you can find in the FAQ that offer more detail.

Recipes should always be done in weight, and we represent this by a recipe done in percentages.

33% beeswax
33% liquid oil
33% butter
1% fragrance oil

This recipe totals 100%. There is a chance that it might not add up to 100% - for instance, when I suggest using 0.5% to 1% of a preservative - and it's okay if it's out by 1% or 2% in the grand scheme of things. The ideal is 100%.

In the recipe above, substitute the % symbol for the word grams, so it looks like this.

33 grams beeswax
33 grams liquid oil
33 grams butter
1 gram fragrance or essential oil

Related post:
How to convert from percentage to weight?

Yes, I know there are three countries in the world that still hold on to Imperial measures - America, Singapore, and Uganda - but grams are so much easier to use. If you convert the % symbol to ounces, you'll end up with 100 ounces of this product, more than you could use in a few years! Even converting 33% by 0.1 ounces will give you 3.3 of each ingredient for a total of 10 ounces, which is still too much for a first time recipe!

If, however, you convert it to grams, you get 100 grams, which is about 3.5 weighed ounces. Your scale will weigh grams - check the little button that says oz/pound/grams or something like that.

RECIPES ARE ALWAYS DONE BY WEIGHT. We don't do things by volume because that's not an accurate way to measure. Think about putting something like beans in a cup. You could have 250 ml of beans or 252 ml or 248 ml or even as low as 240 ml. 10 ml might not sound like a big deal, but it's two teaspoons, which is the kind of measurement you use for things like yeast or baking soda, and we know what happens when you leave those out of a baking recipe. Little variations can be enough to make a recipe fail in cooking and that's true for making bath and body products as well.

Ingredients aren't uniform. One tsp of olive oil doesn't weigh the same as a teaspoon of this Natrasorb bath you see in the picture. You'd get 5 ml of each, but you'd barely have any Natrasorb bath in your product by weight.

Scales aren't expensive. If you're planning to make more than the one product that caught your eye, you'll need one. I started with one - now I have three, plus a tiny one for smaller amounts. Check out your local kitchen store and get one that measures down to 1 gram to start or get something from your local supplier.

Related post:
Why we weigh our ingredients rather than using volume measurements.

Let's say you made a lotion bar in your workshop from scratch. How do we turn that into a recipe by percentage?

30 grams beeswax
33 grams liquid oil
30 grams butter
1 gram Vitamin E
1 gram fragrance oil

Total the recipe = 95 grams

Now divide the amount of the ingredient by the total recipe and multiply by 100 to get the percentage.

30/95 x 100 = 31.58%
33/95 x 100 = 34.74%
30/95 x 100 = 31.58%
1/95 x 100 = 1.05%
1/95 x 100 = 1.05%
Total = 100%

If you get a weird number like 31.57658, round up to the nearest 1/10th or 0.1. So you could have 31.6% beeswax, just remember to round down another ingredient at some point. And for things that should have 1%, like fragrance or essential oil, keep those at 1%. It's not like you can measure 1.05 grams anyway!

Related posts:
Calculating percentages in products
What happens if our recipe totals more than 100%?

Because the goal of making bath and body products is to make safe and effective products we can make again exactly the same. By using percentages, we can easily check if we're using our ingredients in safe and proper ways. We can make sure we have just enough emulsifier to make the lotion work and just the right amount of preservative to keep the product safe. We can make sure we aren't wasting supplies using far too much of something.

It also means we can make larger batches of our products without a ton of work. If you want 300 grams of a recipe, multiply everything by 3. If you want 1000 grams of something, multiply the numbers by 10. If you want 3500 grams of something, multiply by 35. And so on.

Related post:
Doubling, tripling, and dodecahexing our recipes. 

If you want more in depth information, check out the section on calculations in the frequently asked questions section of the blog. There's loads of information there! And check out the newbie links section of the blog as I'm updating it regularly!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Long weekend wonderings: A new page linking to all the HLB system pages! Altering the pH of your products. Using sea buckthorn in a solid perfume? Why is lotion white? And a request for feedback on my recipes...

There's this sudden increase in people wanting to alter the pH of their products, and what I can tell you is that if you don't have a good pH meter - not the strips, not a guess - then don't. The recipes I write are pH balanced with the ingredients I use. If you are going to change the ingredients dramatically - a common example is using a large amount of decyl glucoside, which has a pH as high as 11, in place of a surfactant that has a pH of 6 or lower - then you might have issues, but for the most part, I make sure that you don't have to do all that work at home.

I wanted to let you know that I've created a new page for all the HLB system links on the blog, including a new arrangement for the pages that I thought might help make it more of a course where you go from an introduction to harder things as well. I'm looking at putting these in a PDF for download over the Christmas holidays.

In this post on sea buckthorn oil, Lea asks: I was wondering what your opinion was on using this for solid perfumes, I know it's expensive. But I am still curious. Everyone seem to use jojoba oil. 

Sure, but there's no reason to use this or any other expensive or exotic oil over another when making a solid perfume. The reason we use oils in a solid perfume is to be the medium that transmits the fragrance to our skin, so you can use any oil for this purpose. Some people use greasier feeling oils, others use less greasy ones. The skin feel for this product isn't nearly as important as the consistency of the stick when applying the product. You want something stiff that will melt when it touches your skin, so you'll want to choose the butter well. But when you apply it, you're using a tiny bit on your skin, so you don't want to worry about what will offer glide and slip and less greasiness and everything else we think about with oils. You just want something that won't melt in the tube and will apply to the skin nicely.

If I were to pick oils for this application, I'd want something with low odour - so nothing unrefined - with a long shelf life. You might want to add some Vitamin E to make the shelf life longer. I wouldn't bother with jojoba oil - an oil that has increased in price really dramatically over the last year - but something light feeling and long shelf lived, like fractionated coconut oil (two year shelf life). You can use any hard butter you wish, but don't use all coconut oil or all babassu oil as they melt around 76F, which is low enough to melt when the product is in your pocket or during a slightly warmer day.

Check out my visual SnapGuide to learn more about making solid perfumes.
Check out the post on the topic on the blog...

I'm afraid I can't find the comment at the moment, but someone asked me how two clear things - water and oil - could come together and create something white, like a lotion or cream. What a great question! And I found a great description about this from the Guardian science question page...

Q Why does milk look so different when it is frozen? asks Laura D

A Milk at room temperature is an emulsion – globules of fat dispersed in a watery solution that also contains tiny protein particles. That's why milk looks almost white – these globules and particles are just the right size to scatter the wavelengths that make up visible light.

Pretty cool, eh?

If you like it, please comment. If you hate it, please comment. If you've tried the recipe and it worked, please comment. If you tried the recipe and it failed in some way, please please please comment so I can work on it.

Beth has been travelling around the blog sharing her thoughts about the recipes she has tried (here's an example), and it's giving me such great information! I want to hear whether you tried it, whether you liked it, what you changed and what you didn't, and everything else so I know what is working and what isn't and what I need to fix! It also tells me what recipes are popular and what I should work on in the future. If I never see a comment about a specific type of product - let's say, a solid scrub bar - then I won't bother posting more about it. If I see loads of comments, I make a point of developing more recipes when I see how popular it is. (This is one of the reasons you're seeing more facial product recipes...)

Thanks, Beth, for taking the time to share your thoughts! It's been lovely seeing your comments every day.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: How do self-emulsifying emulsifiers work within the HLB system?

In the same Weekend Wondering post, kiev asks: As I am new to lotion making and have done some of the no no's you have listed. I am trying to understand the HLB system and that has prompted a question regarding Ewax or any self emulsifying system. I am currently using Ewax - don't know enough to try to formulate my own emulsifiers yet. I do have an HLB calc and I run my recipes through it just to see the HLB number and to try and start making a correlation between the number and the end product - my emulsifier is ewax which I use as recommended at 25% of oil phase (so in essence I am not really using the calculator for that purpose). Anyway my ewax is listed at 15 HLB from my vendor. My oil phase combinations have been everything from 8 to 11. When I get to the point of trying my own systems I use 2 emulsifiers both high and low HLB to match the HLB of my oil phase - so how is a self-emulsifying product with a HLB value of 15 working for all my creams regardless of the HLB number? I suppose this is more a question of curiosity, but it does make me wonder why in a self made emulsification system you match the oil phase but don't have to with an self-emulsifying system. 

This is a fabulous question! The short answer is that we don't worry about the HLB system with a self emulsifying system. Why? Because the beauty of buying something like Polawax or e-wax or Ritamulse SCG is that we don't have to do the calculations and risk possibly getting it wrong. (I realize this answer sounds a bit like me saying don't worry about it, but that's really the answer.) We don't need to do the math for those things because the math has been done for us. And we know that these ingredients work because we've seen them work for years in all kinds of different situations. For instance, we can make a lotion with Polawax with an HLB value of 7 and another one at 11 and still make a great, emulsified lotion, so we know that the HLB value of our lotion doesn't matter when using this emulsifier.

There are emulsifiers that can't handle certain ingredients, which can give us an idea of its HLB value. For instance, Sucragel AOF can't handle non-vegetable or non-seed oils or butters, which gives us an idea that it'll have an HLB value of 6 to 8-ish. And we know that certain emulsifiers can only handle so much oil regardless of how much we use - like Ritamulse SCG - so we have to be aware of the restrictions that come with those emulsifiers.

I know I've seen emulsifiers that have an INCI of something like polysorbate 80 and cetearyl alcohol, something with an HLB value of 15 and something that isn't an emulsifier respectively. Honestly, I have no idea how something like this will work. 

Are you sure what you have from your vendor is a self-emulsifying emulsifier? I ask because there are a few vendors who call things self-emulsifying that aren't, things like glycerol monostearate or cetyl alcohol, things that either don't emulsify at all or aren't emulsifiers without a partner in crime.

So what's the long answer? You just read it! 

Related posts:
Is glyceryl stearate an all-in-one emulsifier? (Short answer: No.)
Check what you've got - emulsifiers!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Sucragel, lecithin, and xanthan gum? Lotion bars without wax? How to mix 100 gram batches? Using meadowfoam seed oil neat!

It's a long weekend around these parts - November 11th is a statutory holiday, so I'm off work - so I have time to answer more comments than usual! Let's take a look at some quick questions and answers!

In this post, Chemistry Thursday: Solubilizers and emulsifiers redux, Sue asks: This is a great site - really useful. I am trying to make a natural emulsifier that also thickens. Cetyl alcohol is no good for my skin. I was thinking of using sucragel and xanthan gum. Also, I noticed on miessence site that they have used soy lecithin, xanthan gum and another gum (but no emulsifier, so I am assuming these are their emulsifiers). Looking at soy lecithin, there are many sites where you can buy it in health food shops - is this the same type used for cosmetics? 

Let's review what you have. You have Sucragel, which is an all-in-one emulsifier. You have soy lecithin, which is a low HLB emulsifier. And you have gums, which are thickeners are not emulsifiers. neither of which are emulsifiers, but they are thickeners. You can make a lotion with Sucragel AOF alone, but not with the other ingredients alone.

If you have Sucragel AOF, you don't have to go to all this trouble. It's an all-in-one emulsifier that will turn your water and vegetable oils into a lotion. A thin lotion, which is why you want to use a thickener, I think, but a lotion nonetheless. Just read a few of the recipes I've written below to find one that you might like.

Related posts:
A light lotion using Sucragel AOF
Sucragel AOF - a heated recipe
Sucragel AOF - more complicated recipes
Sucragel AOF - facial moisturizer recipe

The quick answer is that you can use lecithin from the health food store as as an emollient, but not as an emulsifier. Lecithin isn't the same from shop to shop and supplier to supplier because you can get it from a number of different sources like eggs or soy beans. It can have an HLB value of 4 or 7 depending upon the way it's processed, and a lot of our suppliers don't have that information, so it seems unlikely the health food store would have it. To use it as an emulsifier, you have to combine it with a high HLB value emulsifier like ceteareth-20 or polysorbate 80 to create an all-in-one emulsifier.

You cannot use it on its own without a co-emulsifier to create something that will emulsify. The way we see lecithin used by homecrafters who post tutorials on YouTube or Pinterest isn't the way it's necessarily supposed to be used.

And note that you will have a browny-yellowy coloured lotion if you use lecithin! 

Related posts:
HLB system - an introduction
LabRat's amazing HLB system tutorial (PDF, not on this blog)

Gums aren't emulsifiers, they're thickeners. They won't do anything to emulsify a product. Xanthan gum at 0.1% to 0.3% is supposed to be a good thickener of products, but I've found I needed 1.5% to 2% in my Sucragel AOF lotions to make a difference. Combining your gum with anything won't create an emulsifier as they aren't emulsifiers. Emulsifiers need to have a specific chemical make-up with a hydrophilic head and a lipophilic tail, and xanthan gum does not have these features.

Related posts:
Chemistry Thursdays: Solubilizers and emulsifiers redux

To summarize: You can make lotions with just the Sucragel AOF. You cannot make it with lecithin alone - it requires a high HLB emulsifier to work with it. And you cannot emulsify with xanthan gum in any way as it's a thickener.

In this post on lotion bars: tweaking the waxes, Brian asks: My girlfriend and I are planning to start making our own lotion bars to replace the expensive Lush massage bars we've been enjoying lately. We've been quite happy with their consistency, and we notice that their ingredients tend to omit wax, containing only butters, "perfume", and essential oil. Will cocoa and shea butter mixed normally produce a usable bar? Or does this require some more complicated process?

I'm going to be honest when I say the ingredient lists from Lush products often bewilder and baffle me as they seem to leave some things out or claim that things like cetyl alcohol are the emulsifiers. In the case of lotion bars, the ingredient list seems basic but lacking in wax, as you mention.

From the Bewitched Lime & Floral Oil Bar: Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Lime Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Chamomile Blue Oil, Violet Leaf Absolute, *Citral, *Geraniol, *Limonene, Perfume

What's important in this list? The cocoa butter, the shea butter, the jojoba oil, and the extra virgin coconut oil. The lime, chamomile, and violet leaf are fragrance components or used in such small amounts, they're not relevant for our needs.

So can you make a massage bar that will remain hard until use from this ingredient list? Definitely! You're using a ton of cocoa butter that melts when you put it on your skin, and I'd use that as the main ingredient. The shea butter, jojoba, and coconut oil should be used in small amounts. You'll have to play with the amounts, but I'd start at 60% cocoa butter and work my way down from there.

Why do we use wax in our products, then? Because it offers a more plastic kind of hardness. I don't mean plastic as in the stuff that you can't get open when you've bought new headphones kind of plastic. I mean a more bendy kind of feeling than you would get with cocoa butter alone. I love cocoa butter, but you couldn't use it right out of the container because it's so freakin' hard!

Can I make a suggestion? Babassu oil! This stuff melts on your skin on contact and it feels really divine. Use it as one of the liquid oils with the cocoa butter and you'll see why I suggest it!

In the post, How big a batch do you make for your first version of a product? Tara asks: How to do you effectively mix a batch as small as 100g? With my immersion blender, I find it hard to mix any batch under 400g.

I find the right container is vital for making small batches. I like these containers from Lotioncrafter or my beakers, something that is taller than it is wide. I tend to use my hand mixer for everything because I find stick blenders are a pain in the bum to clean, and I find just one beater on the mixer is more than enough! (But you could easily use a stick blender.) If it's a surfactant or foamy product, I use a fork or a spoon to mix it - no mixers!

I definitely suggest getting some 250 ml Pyrex jugs for your workshop. Just make sure you get the ones with the straight walls! (Drop tons of suggestions that you want these for Christmas and your friends will get you tons!)

In this post on meadowfoam seed oil, Beth notes: Wow - I love Meadowfoam Seed Oil neat. Tried it 2 days in a row now. I am revisiting the formulating body oil spray section and the amazing section on your blog regarding the skin fee of oils.  I remember you encouraging your readers to try oils neat and for me this has been extremely valuable information because its the only way I can determine if I really like a particular oil. Going to try making an oil spray using this oil and Fractionated Coconut Oil see how that works.

I know, right? Think of all the information you gathered from using the oil neat. You can see how thick it is in the bottle, how thick it feels on your skin, how greasy or dry it feels, how long you can play with it before it starts to feel like it's disappearing, how shiny it is on your hands, arms, nails, and so on. You can figure out whether it compares to something else you have. So much information you can gather just from a few minutes spent with your oil.

Just make sure the ingredient can be used neat. Oils and butters, yes. Essential and fragrance oils, no. Most esters and other emollients like lecithin, yes. And so on!

Join me tomorrow for more Weekend Wonderings!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fragrances - weather and seasonal changes?

Never underestimate the power of fragrance! I know there are certain things that remind me of the smell of the perm solution in the hair dressing shop in the mall that closed when I was maybe 6 years old and other things that make me want to take on the world. Those of us who fragrance our lotions know the product can take on a whole new life when we add just a titch of something fragrant, and I want to know about what you like!

As some of us move into winter and others move into summer, are you switching your fragrances? Are there holiday related ones that you prefer for this time of year? We've seen the over abundance of pumpkin spice related things - do you have a Christmas or Hanukkah smell? It's Diwali right now - are there fragrances you associate with that holiday?

I bring this up because it's the time of year that I get into nutmeg and all spice and cinnamon and want to smell like my our delicious Christmas fruit cake (which is awesome, not hard and crumbly like the horrible ones you've had in the past). I want to smell like egg nog and mint. I'm changing my fragrances to be more winter-y and I'd love to hear what reminds you of the changing season!

In the posts below, I'd love to hear about your favourite (up to) three fragrances you love for the season in which we're in and which ones you love for the upcoming one! I'd especially love to hear from readers in the Southern Hemisphere and those who have non-Christmas holidays! Let's make it interesting - I'll choose a post at random to win a choice of e-books to be drawn November 21st, so you have lots of time to participate!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This is why you want to use preservatives in your products...

You'll notice there are actually two areas of contamination in the product. The first is the great big green spot on the left side, but did you notice the brown-y orange streak to the right hand side of that on the side of the jug? Yep, there's a little more contamination for you!

I made this lotion without preservatives to show you how quickly things can go off. I made this sixteen days ago. (It might have gone off earlier. This was the first chance I had to check it, to be honest!) I did all the things I generally do - I heated and held both phases, I made sure all my equipment and workshop was clean - but I left out the preservatives. I covered it tightly with Press & Seal in this jug after it had cooled to room temperature. It's been cold in the workshop - below 10˚C - which is quite chilly considering a fridge should be kept at 0˚C to 4˚C, and room temperature is 18˚C to 22˚C. It is also quite damp back there as we've had a bunch of rain since Hallowe'en - just about every day - which is normal for this time of year.

I used a heavily modified version of the Natragem EW recipe I shared with you a few weeks back because I was honestly too lazy to get into the emulsifier/giant heavy ingredient box and went with that. (This should not be construed in any way as a reflection on this emulsifier. It was quite literally what was sitting on top of my workshop counter.) I didn't use the aloe vera or hydrosols. I shudder to think what it would have looked like if I did!

I have to point out that I get weary of hearing people saying they're going to leave the preservative out of their products because "it's just for me". Do you want to smear THAT on your skin? Do you want to give that to someone you love? Please don't. Products are contaminated a lot sooner than you think, and contamination is almost always there long before you see the green or orange bloom!

It's sad because I only have so much time to create, and this is what I did when I had that small window. But I really really really wanted to make the point that you need to keep your lotions well preserved. 

Related posts:
Why do we need preservatives in our water containing products? 
Preservatives: What can get into our creations?
Preservatives: How the heck do they work?
Preservatives: Water activity and sugar/salt scrubs
If you're new to lotion making (heating & holding)
Why do we heat & hold?
Why do we heat and hold separately?