Sunday, June 12, 2016

Weekend Wonderings: Can I use magnesium oil in my lotions?

In this post, Pumpkin seed: Making a light lotion, Anamaria asked, I would like to know if I could ever make this same lotion adding magnesium chloride oil? Would it survive to the heat? Thanks

Magnesium oil isn't an oil. It's a solution of water and magnesium flakes, so it's a water soluble ingredient, not an oil. It could handle the heat well, so you could add it to the heated water phase of a lotion. Magnesium chloride is a salt or an electrolyte, and a lot of our ingredients really don't like electrolytes much, so check before you add it to your product.

What is an electrolyte? "An electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible. Commonly, electrolytes are solutions of acids, bases or salts." (From Wikipedia).

The most common electrolyte we'll meet as bath and body makers is salt (external link), found as magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts), sodium chloride (table salt), dendritic salts (sodium chloride), and so on. (Magnesium chloride in magnesium oil is a salt.)

How much salt a product can handle will depend on the product. Surfactant blends like shampoo, body wash, or bubble bath can generally handle about 3% before they go really watery. (In fact, we can thicken some surfactant mixes with salt - it's called the salt curve.) Surfactants aren't a great place to use electrolytes.

If you want to put it into a lotion, check to see what your emulsifier can handle. Polawax is electrolyte tolerant, Natragem EW can handle up to 10% salt, but Aristoflex AVC will fall apart. Lotionpro 165 (aka Simulsol 165) is supposed to handle electrolytes well.

If you want to put it into a gel, check to see what you can use. Ultrez 20, my favourite carbomer, works very well with electrolytes, but if you use more than a titch, you'll start to lose viscosity. I'm working with Sepimax ZEN and Sepimax EMT 10 this week, two gel creating polymers that have good resistance to electrolytes, so those might work for a magnesium oil gel.

Xanthan gum is tolerant to high levels of electrolytes, and salts could actually help thicken it further. Guar gum is "uncommonly resistant" to electrolytes, and can be used in combination with xanthan gum to thicken it further.

If you want to use it in a product, try it at a low amount - let's say 3% - and see how it turns out. Make a small batch of the product to see what you think of it, and keep really good notes. Then add 1% every time you make it to see what you think. And come back to tell us what you think so we can share your experiences with other people who might like to make products with this magnesium oil.

A guide to magnesium oil
Ancient Minerals

Magnesium picture above By Romain Behar, Public Domain


Ginrei said...

I can verify that SCI and polyglucose/lactylate surfactant together will almost gel when you add 2% salt! I was trying to make shampoo and was aiming for 1% but overshot it a little... oh well!

Do you think salt would mess with BTMS? I'd got some magnesium chloride flakes I'd love to add to a lotion.

Maria said...

I added epsom salts to lotion and it went watery. I used polywax as the emulsifier so be very careful about the amount. Start with about 1 percent. 3 percent was too much for the lotion I made and while still usable, it was pretty watery.

I do use epsom salts in my deodorant bars and it works great there!

Ginrei said...

Ooh~ Maria, would you be willing to share your deodorant bar recipe?? :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Maria! If I may ask, what's the point of putting Epsom salts - or any salts - in a lotion? What does it bring to your skin or the lotion?

Anamaria said...

Hi Susan, thank you so much for answering my question, you are so kind. I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes, I have wished to make this lotion for a long time as I've read it's good for cramps, and skin absorbs it fast.

CC Mirabella said...

I had been curious about this.....I read somewhere, I can not recall where unfortunately , that adding salt to conditioner would help if you have over production of sebum. Has anyone heard of this? I'm pretty certain just using a salt spray after washing would probably do the same...I've been making my daughter the oily hair shampoo & conditioners from Susan & I'll tell you NOTHING has ever helped her til now I'm so grateful for that ...
Thanks :)

Maria said...


It's for the magnesium absorption. If you get sick (usually stomach ailments) or you are an athlete, you can easily run short of magnesium. I originally wanted the lotion for my dad to replace magnesium stores in his body (I couldn't get the man to take a bath with epsom salts--can you imagine that???) I thought the lotion would be a good way to do it, but it does make the lotion runny!

I'll work on posting the deodorant recipe to my blog!!!

Magdalena Keating said...

Hi Susan,

I make a natural deodorant using magnesium chloride oil but am running into an issue with the magnesium oil interacting with some of the ingredients. Ill outline my recipe and method first:

25% fractionated coconut oil
11% magnesium oil
7% sweet almond oil
15% beeswax
28% shea butter
6% arrowroot
6% kaolin clay
2-3% essential oils

I combine the coconut oil, sweet almond oil with the beeswax and shea butter and put into the pyrex jug into saucepan containing boiling water and heat until everything is melted.

I take it off the heat and stir in arrowroot & kaolin clay until dissolved. Using pippette, i pour in magnesium oil a little at a time whilst stiring and finally I stir in essential oils before pouring the mixture in their containers.

The issue is that the magnesium oil has a tendency to clump up with either the arrowroot powder or kaolin clay (or both) and settles at the bottom in a glugy like texture. The deodorant isn’t as effective without the magnesium in it.

What do you think it is? Why do you think the magnesium is interacting with the other ingredients like this?
Should I be mixing it with electric mixer to prevent it from clumping up? Is it the change in temperature i.e room temp magnesium oil poured into a hot mixture?

Really hoping you can help!!!

Love love love love your blog! I am officially an addict!!

Magdalena Keating said...

This will (slightly) mess up my percentages above but I'm also adding in 1% vitamin E too

Maria said...

That's very similar to my recipe, but I use epsom salts--no clumping problem. I also add baking soda (and no almond oil--I use coconut oil). It is a little difficult to get the epsom salts to dissolve properly, but I just stir. The magnesium really does seem to make the deodorant work. I also put in probiotics and cetyl alcohol for hardening and glide. I know I promised to publish this on the blog, but there you pretty much have all the ingredients! (I'm in the middle of a mattress testing and reupholstery project on the blog so I haven't posted the deodorant yet).

Feel free to email me (email is on the sidebar of the blog) if you have questions and I'll try to help! (

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

As I mention in the post, magnesium oil isn't an oil. It's water soluble. So if you add clay to water, you get mud. The problems you're having are because you're mixing a powder and clay with water. You need an emulsifier to mix all of this together because oil and water don't mix without one. So when you add the magnesium water, it mixes with the powders and sinks to the bottom. (Water weighs more than oils.)

Magdalena Keating said...

Hi Maria,

Thanks for your message and for your offer to help - Much appreciated!! What do the probiotics do for the deodorant - you mentioned hardening - don't the beeswax do that? Are probiotics durable at high temperatures? i.e even in cool down phase the mixture is fairly hot.

Hi Susan,

Do you think there is anything I can do, other than removing the magnesium, that won't involve adding emulsifier or any other highly processed ingredient? If not, then thats what ill do :)

Ive a few more questions...
if I am to use the emulsifier, how much would you recommend I use?
Would I still add the magnesium oil in the cool down phase and the the emulsifier in the heating phase?

Thank you again for your help!!

Maria said...

The probiotics have to be added when the mix is cooled down--not hardened, but cooled as much as possible. The idea is that the "good" bacteria in the probiotics will eat/absorb some of the normal bacteria that grows in the sweat. I personally think the magnesium helps just as much if not more than the probiotics. I haven't tried the recipe without the probiotics, however. Kind of a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

THe beeswax helps harden it some, but it's very, very warm here in Texas and the beeswax is sticky. That makes the deodorant sticky. I can take beeswax and smush it with my fingers on a normal hot day here, but can't do that with the cetyl alcohol. I also like cocoa butter in the deodorant in place of some of the coconut oil--it's a harder oil and smoother. Obviously I don't have the perfect formula created because I keep trying different things!

Try epsom salts instead of magnesium oil. I don't have any separation at all. It sounds like magnesium oil is just a solution in water.

Good luck with it! It's a tricky little devil, that is for sure, but we have found the epsom salts and/or probiotics works very well as a deodorant. I may get brave and try it without the probiotics next batch, but a single stick of this lasts us three months so it will be a while before I concoct more!

Magdalena Keating said...

I make my own magnesium oil, so could try and just put in the magnesium chloride flakes in instead. I don't have any epsom salts here and have a bucket load of magnesium chloride.

At what point do you add the epsom salt flakes? Out of interest how much do you put in?

When I make the oil (not technically an oil) I put in half purified water and half magnesium chloride, so i'd imagine it would make sense to just add the same amount of magnesium chloride. I might try that next time.

The deodorant is very effective and I don't put in probiotics or bicarb soda as I have sensitive skin. Though I am now tempted to try with probiotics to see whether it is more effective than without.

Maria said...

I'm not a big fan of the baking soda either, but all the recipes seem to have it so I put some in--I'm still messing with percentages and actually just follow a kind of tablespoon of this, tablespoon of that at the moment because that's the type of recipe I started with. It's not the greatest way to learn or formulate. What I did was replace half the baking soda with the epsom salts. I put it in after the heat was off, but everything was still warm. It took a while to dissolve so I stirred until it dissolved. For about a 3 ounce deodorant bar, there's about 1.5 tablespoon of epsom salts (and about 1 tablespoon of baking soda). I use a powdered probiotic and put that in when it's as cool as I think it can stand and not be too hard to stir.

I have made it with just the probiotics and the deodorant is definitely more effective when combined with the epsom salts.

I can also tell you that adding any of the silicons doesn't seem to add any glide (thus my attempts to harden it with the cetyl alcohol and use of cocoa butter as a less sticky, glidier butter). I'm happy with the cetyl alcohol and cocoa butter results, but I need to play with the amounts to get it "just so." I did try adding more beeswax to harden and that didn't seem to do it. There's a wax that I think is derived from beeswax that might work too (I think it's harder than the beeswax) but I haven't tried it. It's called Cera Bellina Wax--but I haven't tried it. I have the cetyl alcohol on hand already. Maybe Susan can tell us if stearic acid would work to harden or stearyl alcohol...and still remain glidy!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

A few thoughts...

Please don't use baking soda in your deodorants. It raises the pH of the bar, which can lead to painful underarm rashes. Our skin doesn't like having an alkaline pH, and it reacts

How do the probiotics live in oil? One of the reasons we don't add preservatives to anhydrous products is because bacteria need water to live.

Magdelena: If you take out the water soluble portion of this product - the magnesium oil - you won't have any problems with emulsification as all the other ingredients are oil soluble. If you want to use an emulsifier, you'd be making a lotion of sorts, so I'd encourage you to check out the newbie section of the blog to learn how to do that. You can make a version of a scrub bar with emulsifer, so I'll encourage you to do a search for that topic as I just covered it a few weeks ago.

Check out the newbie section of the blog to learn more about solubility. I also have recipes and instructions for making lotion bars, which is what you're making here.

If you're using coconut oil, your bar will start to melt at relatively low temperatures thanks to its low melting point of 24˚C or 76˚F. Use another butter to make it harder. Check out this post for more information.

I use silicones in my lotion bars and love the slip and glide they offer. (You can check a few recipes in this post/)

Stearic acid would be a bad idea in a product like this. It's very draggy. It'll work, but it's draggy. You can use cetyl alcohol or any other fatty alcohol in this bar to thicken it. Whether something is glidy or not isn't just about one ingredient, but about the interaction between the ingredients. If you choose really draggy ingredients like castor oil, mango, and beeswax, you'll have a draggier lotion bar than one with shea butter, fractionated coconut oil, cetyl alcohol, and silicones.

Cera bellina is a great ingredient, but I don't think it offers anything over beeswax in this kind of recipe.

Just a few thoughts for the day...

Maria said...

Thanks for the input, Susan!!!

The whole probiotic idea is somewhat new and may or may not contribute. I think the idea is that they aren't activated until you sweat--ie add water. But I am pretty sure the only real testing being done is by us trying it out in deodorants. It could be a clever marketing idea by deodorant companies that include it in the list of ingredients.

I'll be happy to try making the next bar without baking soda. I don't put much in, but all the home recipes call for it.

The beeswax and cocoa butter help make the bar harder (as opposed to the softer oils like fractionated and just regular coconut oil). The caveat to using any of the oils is to find one that doesn't stain clothing! But I completely agree, Susan--the coconut oil can melt too much making the bar goopy especially in the summer, which is why I added the cetyl alcohol.

Thanks much for chiming in to help us. You are the best!

Anamaria said...

Hi Susan, it's me again, I've been experimenting with this magnesium lotion, and I finally succeded with one I like,
52% water
10% magnesium flakes
15% avocado oil
5% cocoa butter
3% stearic acid
6% e-wax
8% aloe vera juice
1% preservative
Please tell me If this formula is correct, so far so good for me. I found out that avocado oil and cocoa butter are full potassium and aloe vera juice helps with the itching. Thank you for your blog and your precious time.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Maria. Bacteria require water to live. You are putting them into an oil based product. They can't live in oil, so aren't they dead when you put them on your skin? If they're dead, what benefit do they confer?

I quote from Wikipedia: Probiotics have to be alive when administered...Only products containing live organisms shown in reproducible human studies to confer a health benefit can actually claim to be a probiotic. (Wikipedia link.

I have some great information on how to make all kinds of different lotion bars in this post - newbie Tuesday, let's make a lotion bar!.

Hi Anamaria! I fear this recipe will fail because you have a ton of electrolytes in it. The magnesium flakes and aloe vera may serve to destabilize it, but I encourage you to try it and keep some aside for stability testing over time to see how it does!

Susan said...

Good discussion on Magnesium, both the thoughts on adding to a lotion and to a deodorant. I have never added it to a lotion (just take epsom salts baths) but that would be a great idea for post hiking soreness and leg cramps and at times when a bath is not an option (think camping)
For deodorant, I use arrowroot starch in place of baking soda, as well as I include Kaolin Clay and Diatomaceous Earth. I have yet to add magnesium flakes or Epsom salts, but might try a small amount in my next batch. A friend has tried magnesium in her deodorant and it resulted in a rash, so will start out slow. Thank you for the ideas!

Maria said...

Can't argue with you on the probiotics--but I do know that a couple of commercial deodorants claim to use them, but lots of commercial products make odd claims. :>). These are a dry probiotic that I believe is coated to stabilize it and then activates when you swallow it. In theory. I have no idea if that helps it to stay alive in the deodorant or not. Not trying to make any claims--just following various recipes to see if they work.
As I said, I do think the deodorant works much better with the epsom salts in there, but it did seem to work with just the probiotics too--just not as well. I will let you know if I learn more when I leave out the probiotics. I will use arrowroot and no baking soda on the next round (nothing like changing more that one thing at a time. :>) I work best this way!)

Anamaria said...

Hi Susan I've been checking my mag lotion, and still good, I don't know what you mean by fail, could it break down? I still see it stable, well it's true it hasn't been long, well I'll tell you from time to time. What I can say is that it's helped me a lot with my cramps and knees.

Magdalena Keating said...

Thanks for all your help. I havent had a chance to try making the deodorant with just the magnesium flakes but when I do, Ill let you know how I go. I will definitely check out the lotion bar newbie page. Thank you for pointing me in that direction.

Dianne Bowler said...

Anamaria, I'm really curious about your recipe as I have been approached by a friend to make a Magnesium Lotion. How is it holding up? Is it still stable or do you see some separation? Regards Di

Maria said...

Just as an FYI, I've posted the deodorant recipe to my blog. It's at the top for now, but if you find this later, look under Lotions or Lotions and Potions (or email me).

Toodles and thanks for all the great info, Susan!