Sunday, February 28, 2016

A few thoughts for the last Sunday in February: Thickening lotions, measuring by weight, dissolving liquids

A few points of interest for the last Sunday in February...

I've been asked to write a monthly column for Handmade magazine, and the first one just came out - The Science Behind Citrus! I just received my copy on Friday, and I'm thrilled to bits about it!

For those of you asking about my back, thank you for your kind thoughts! Things were really bad this week. I was off work again and was feeling kinda hopeless. And then yesterday, I had an epidural shot of steroids into my back, and already things are feeling so much better! (My calf muscle has been in a Charley horse spasm for over two years, and last night was the first time it didn't hurt since January 2014. That is what I call a freakin' miracle!) I have two more shots to go in the coming weeks, and I should be good for three to six months! I'm feeling well enough to back to work tomorrow and do some writing today, which is amazing!

I'm milking this shot-into-my-spine thing for all it's worth! "I'm allowed to have five cookies! Did I mention I had a needle going into my spine this morning?" 

As a result of all this exciting pain, I've fallen behind on posts and answering email and comments. Please be patient with me! I will catch up soon. (I find it hard to write huge posts and longer comments when lying on my side in bed with my iPhone. You may have seen me on Facebook writing things. That's because I can type short notes very well on my phone!)

Let's talk about lotion thickening! In general, a lotion won't reach its final viscosity for 24 to 48 hours after making it. This is one of the reasons I suggest letting the lotion cool to room temperature before bottling it. You don't know if you have a body butter or a body lotion until it reaches that final thickness, and you won't want to put something in a treatment pump bottle if it needs a jar! Some emulsifiers thicken quicker than others - I'm thinking about Ritamulse SCG here, which can be super thick in as little as half an hour - so leave that lotion alone for a bit and go make something else while you wait!

Please measure your ingredients - all your ingredients, including the essential oils - by weight for accuracy. I can't stress enough how much this idea of using essential oils in drops is not accurate. Is that a drop from an eye dropper, a small pipette, a big pipette, a big eye dropper, a small or large dropper cap, and so on? Better to use a scale and know exactly how much you're using! You can get tiny scales, like my favourite one from London Drugs, the Salter diet scale, for less than $40, and it's worth the money.

In the past, I've had to go into one of those other kind of drug shops to get my scales and pH measuring liquids. I walk in and declare loudly, "I'm here looking for a tiny scale for my cosmetic chemistry projects. Yep, I like making body washes, facial cleansers, lotions - you know, that kind of thing. That's why I'm here, all right!" And so on. 

When you're dissolving liquids, you will often need more water than a titch. In the class I led last weekend, we were dissolving allantoin in a bit of hot water. It has a solubility of 0.5% in 100 grams of water, so you aren't going to see it dissolve well when you're putting 0.5 grams into 10 grams of water. Other things are more soluble than this, but consider that when you can't dissolve 0.5 grams of that lovely powdered extract into 10 grams of water!

Finally, if you want to criticize me, grow the hell up and attach your name to the insults! I'm so sick of anonymous cowards telling me to "do my research" or calling me names. I'm glad you want to defend a big company like Lush against my criticisms, but put your name on your post and we'll have a conversation. If you don't, like every other anonymous comment, you'll be deleted.

Hope you're having a lovely Leap Year Day Eve! (It's not really a thing, but I wanted to end on a positive note!)


Susanna Originals said...

So glad you got a little relief from the back pain and sorry it took such a drastic measure.
Good for you, telling off the people hiding behind anonymous. A good discussion of differences can teach both parties something, but posting something nasty behind a hidden identity is just cowardly. If you want to be Anonymous, go harass ISIS.
When you give so freely of your time and expertise, none of which for your own benefit, it's really mean of people to take potshots. Argue, discuss, disagree, but do it constructively and we'll all benefit.

Dianne from Sejour said...

Well said Susanna.

Anna said...

Couldn't agree more! If people had the courage of their conviction they'd put their name to their comments. Otherwise they're just wasting energy on spiteful behaviour that would be better spent being kind to others. Such people are not worth the bother.

Good news about your back! Keep up the good work in cookie department; convalescence can be a sloooow process (so many cookies). ;)

pat bortolin said...


Mrs Spaceship said...

I read your article on the website last week, congrats! I wish Handmade was available on racks. I keep seeing the new Willow & Sage Magazine that is full of nothing but " All Natural, pureed produce on your face that have no preservative but will keep in your fridge for a couple of weeks" crap.
It gives me anxiety just leafing through the pages. How is it that you get so many hateful comments, but these people can print crap like that and get away with it?

Nadia said...

I second the original comment. Thank you for spending so much of your free time sharing your knowledge. Even when you share a recipe that I am unlikely to make myself I always enjoy reading about your process. Your blog is the first place I check when trying out a new ingredient!

I hope you continue to enjoy improvement with your back as well.

Christine Ring said...

Congratulations on the Magazine article!! That's really cool. I am not a creative writer, but I love to read. I have much respect for those who can put together a sentence where other people understand your point.
I am a fan of your blog, it's my first stop to learn about any ingredient that I'm researching.
Sorry about your back. Glad to hear you have some relief!

Last night I made a facial lotion from your recipe and I am really enjoying it.
I used panthenol & chamomile extract in the cool down phase. I had a question...when you add the 1 TBLS of heated water to mix, is it ok to add it at the 70C temp?

This world is full of so many bullies. It's such a drag to think of those closed minds tearing you down, when you are here donating your valuable time to teach us and help us become better, and SAFER makers of products.

Thunder Thighs said...

I can't wait to get my copy! I've followed your blog for years!

Toyin Animasaun said...

Hey Susan, so glad you're getting your groove back. Congrats on the space given you in the magazine. Trust you'd make the best of it.
I just want to say to never mind hateful comments and snide remarks, they're mostly from people who skip readings and whose lives thrive by the mere act of trying to pull others down.
Your blog's about the most unbiased and most updated i know of. It's my 1st to-go-to when researching a new ingredient plus i've never had problems with my formulations following your instructions even though i may not have all of the ingredients you use in yours.
You rock back-to-back babe

paula senf said...

Hi Susan , I have been following you for years , using your knowledge and enjoying your wonderful interesting blogs ! Thank you sweet lady for inspiring me to turn my kitchen into a lab and the enjoyment this has brought into my life ! .. Sending you healing thoughts for a speedy recovery !

Marina said...

To all the folks attacking Susan and calling her names, may I make a suggestion to you? Please re-direct your anger and attacks to the profitable companies that deceive people by selling products while claiming:

1. Their product is "chemical free" - absolutely ridiculous because there is no such thing on earth!! Even air and water are chemicals!
2. Their product is "preservative free" - even when they list preservatives or conveniently "forget" to list their preservatives (I'm talking about you, Lush Cosmetics, among other offenders.)
3. They do not follow labeling protocol according to the FDA and do not list ingredients according to their appropriate name, making ingredients sound more innocuous.
4. They claim their product is 100% pure - again absolutely ridiculous since nothing on earth is 100% pure.
5. They use the terms "healing" or "therapeutic" without labeling their product as a drug - this is in violation of FDA labeling protocol!

These are deceptive practices that need to be stopped, so please don't go after well-intentioned people who are legitimately helping others make safe, high quality, ethical products, such as Susan. Please go after the real offenders who make money by greedily deceiving naive and/or uninformed consumers.

Mary said...

I'm so glad to her you're feeling better - may the next shots provide even more relief! I was hoping you could answer a question that has just now occurred to me: what is the difference between a wax and a butter? Is it just the melting point? Is there a chemical feature that differentiates them (ratio of C:O, branching etc?).
I normally stick to making anhydrous moisture bars. They have become a bit of a cure-all with the kids, especially at bedtime - itchy skin, sore legs, the perpetual "can't get comfortable" or that scratch from yesterday that is suddenly intolerable and completely incompatible with sleep? Let's go get Mommy's special moisture stick.
It's been a long time since I've been able to make anything and...I miss it!

Lise M Andersen said...

Yay Susan! I think if people have been leaving ugly comments then it's about time you got a few yays form folks who appreciate you! First: congrats on your writing gig! Second: here's wishing you are up and dancing around with nary a spasm in the world very soon. Thirdly, I am happy to smack any haters around with wet noodles until they beg for mercy – just say the word. Feel not just better - but truly awesome – soon!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for your kindness.My back pain is a little bit better every day, but it's still a struggle to make it through. I know it's going to be much better one day, but I'm done waiting!

I think I get the mean comments because I'm not saying what they want to hear. I'm not making health claims, I'm not saying essential oils are miracles, I'm not saying they can do whatever they want and sell it. I appreciate those of you telling me not to worry about it and such, but it's hard to put away hurtful things by just ignoring them. No matter how much that person's opinion really doesn't matter in my brain, I'm in a really vulnerable place with my pain right now, and my emotions are super close to the surface. When I have to struggle to do something simple like get dressed in the morning or write a blog post, hearing something mean can be too much given all the other stuff.

Hi Susanna, Anna, Pat, MIss Spaceship, Nadia, Toyin, Paula, and Thunder Thighs! Thank you. You are all so lovely.

Hi Christine! No, you have to have cooled down water at 45˚C to dissolve the extracts as they are heat sensitive.

Hi Marina! I don't have a like button, but I should have a like like like button for that comment!

Hi Mary! Here's a post I wrote on waxes. Generally, it's about the type of fatty acids in the product and the melting point/solidification point. I really should write more on this topic!

Hi Lise! Thank you. I will probably need your services very soon! :-)

Kim said...

Another long time follower here, saying "thank you" for all that you do! I also really appreciate the time and effort you've put into this blog, and how much nerdy chemistry fun we have around here. The supporters far outweigh the negative flyby jerks! Congrats on the magazine!

Ashley said...

Hi Susan,

I've hit a roadblock. I have been measuring all of my recipes by weight but when I make 300g of lotion, how do I know how many ml I made? If I pour 100g of lotion into a bottle, that doesn't equal 100ml. I'm not sure how to figure this out so that when I label in ml as I'm supposed to do, I am giving the correct number.

Also, this may seem like a really silly question so bear with me, but if a bottle said it holds 4oz, where exactly is the 4oz cut off so that I know I actually put in 4oz?

I hope my questions are clear because I am frantically trying to figure this out!