Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weekend Wonderings: Can I water down too thick bubble bath? How do I melt SCI?

In this post on bubble bath, Frankie asks: Hi Susan! I was very excited to try this recipe to make my own bubble bath so I whipped some up last night. It was so simple and it smells great... but it's so thick that it took about 30 minutes to bottle it! And I didn't even use anything to thicken it. I know bubble bath is supposed to be on the thick side, but mine is super thick. Perhaps this is a silly question, but if I want to thin it out a little bit, can I simply add more water next time? Thanks.

The short answer is yes! The long answer is yes, and don't forget to compensate with more preservative!

Remember, too, that the fragrance you use can have a massive impact on your bubble bath (body wash, facial cleanser, etc.). Citrus fragrance and essential oils tend to thicken it quite dramatically, while vanilla tends to thin it. Keep good records of everything you make and note the fragrance, too, because you don't want to make a really thin pink sugar bubble bath that never thickened up. (Pink sugar is vanilla based, so it'll be thinner!)

Related posts:
Fragrances and viscosity
Fragrance and clarity
Surfactants and essential oils

In this post on shampoo bars, Nikki asks: Hi Susan! My question is how long does it normally take for SCI to melt into a Smooth consistency? I tried your shampoo bar recipe yesterday? And I was storing for over an hour and I still don't think it was smooth enough. Thank you

How smooth SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) will get depends on a few things, including which surfactant you mix with it to melt and which SCI you've chosen.

There are all kinds of SCI you can buy from noodles and flakes to prills and balls. You can buy some with lots of extra fatty acids and some with only a little. And each of them take more or less time to dissolve that others. (Check out this post to see all the different kinds I've owned!)

When you are melting SCI, there are a few things you can add to increase the solubility and melting time. You can add some anionic surfactants like DLS or disodium laureth sulfosuccinate or SMO or SMC taurate.  You can add an amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine. Or you can add some non-ionic surfactants like polysorbate 20 or 80, alkyl glucosides (like decyl glucoside), PEG glyceryl cocoates or PEG glyceryl laurates.

My first choice is always cocamidopropyl betaine because it increases the mildness of the surfactant mix! Except when I'm working on a shampoo for really greasy hair, then I use DLS in its place.

I find the prills melt really easily with either cocamidopropyl betaine or DLS, so you can just put those things in the container, heat until dissolved, then add your other ingredients.

Noodles seem to melt easily for me, too, but they aren't as smooth when the shampoo bar pops out of the mold as the prills are.

If you have bigger noodles, you can put them in something like a magic bullet or chopper and make them smaller. They'll melt easier when they're smaller!

Hope this helps!


Sally Jorgensen said...

Hi Susan
Love your blog and am learning a lot from you.
Question about powdered surfactanta. I ordered DLS expecting liquid which I had used before, but it came in a powdered form. How do I adjust recipes ? I assume when you use DLS in your formulations you are using a % by weight of liquid DLS.
thanks in advance
Sally Jorgensen

Miri said...

Hi Susan!

I've been following you for years and love being a part of your community.

I have a problem I hope you can solve. I got some of the tricornered jugs for making anhydrous lotion. However, they float! I used to use Pyrex or ball jars and they had no problem staying down due to the weight of the jug itself. What do you do to keep things from tipping over and spilling? I put a larger glass jug over the tricornered ones and solved the issue temporarily, but I figure you might have more experience than me in this arena.

Thank you!

Miri Pardo

Miri said...

I just reread my post-- the tricornered jugs float in the water bath. Hope that's clearer!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sally! I'm using liquid DLS from Voyageur Soap & Candle. It's 35% active. How active is yours? And where did you get it? I'd love to try that!

If I'm using 10% DLS, I'm using 3.5% active. So you could figure it out that way. But make a small batch because powders can thicken products a lot!!!

Please let me know how it turns out!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Miri! I get that all the time. The answer is to put less water in the water bath or put more things into the container. I monitor them to make sure they don't tip. Sorry I don't have a more sophisticated answer, but it really is as simple as watch the containers to make sure they stay upright!

Corinne said...

SCI comes in a powdered form too, and given the trouble I had melting the prills for my homemade conditioning shampoo this morning, I think I'll be trying that next time. I was using Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, coco-betwine and a glucoside, as well as a little glyceryl distearate (I like my shampoos to be creamy and opaque). You mentioned the first three should help it melt easier but would the pealizer be what is causing it to take quite some time and quite the temperature too? I try to stay around the 150F mark but I find I had to increase it to 150-170°F to finally get it to melt. Is this normal? Oh, and I get no thickenin from the learlizer or the SCI. It stays very thin. Weird, right?