Monday, July 10, 2017

Weekday Wonderings: All about conditioner bars!

Loads and loads of questions on making conditioner bars, so let's take a look at those!

Here's my base recipe so you can follow along!

60% Incroquat BTMS
10% cetyl alcohol (you can use stearic if you want a harder bar, but it's going to be draggy!)
10% butter of your choice - preferably 5% cocoa butter plus 5% something else
4.5% oils of your choice
3% condition-eze 7, honeyquat, or other cationic polymer
2% hydrolyzed protein (I'm using cromoist)

2% panthenol
2% dimethicone
2% cyclomethicone
2% cetrimonium chloride
2% fragrance or essential oil (I'm using my oily hair blend of equal parts cedarwood, sage, rosemary, and lime)
0.5% liquid Germall Plus

Nicole asked, Are conditioner bars suppose to be soft or hard? I made one following your recipe and used cocoa butter for the butter and avocado oil for the oil. It ended up staying on the counter because I forgot the freezer/fridge step. It is solid and holds its own shape, but you can indent it like a ripe avocado. How hard is it suppose to be? 

Conditioner bars should be hard enough that if they are dropped, they'll dent a little. But this can be different for each batch depending on the oils, butters, and ingredients used. For instance, those with stearic acid will be harder than those with cetyl alcohol. Those with cocoa butter will be harder than those with shea butter. Those with more oils will be softer than those without oils as you've had to replace something solid with something liquid. And so on.

Having said that, it feels like yours are a little softer than we'd like. I definitely think the freezer is an essential step in the process, so I'd suggest doing that next time.

In this same post, Jill asked:  I've been making your hair conditioner bar and have a few questions.

1. In a double boiler (with the water high), it seems to melt but still have a white crust over the top. Will that layer finally dissolve if I just let it continue to heat? It doesn't seem like it wants to melt. If I stir it while it's on the heat, that white layer forms on my stirring spatula too, which I just scrape back into the pot. But I'm concerned that it never looks like the picture on your tutorial.

2. Is it possible to use the microwave instead of a double boiler, or is that too hot?

3. Should I let the heated ingredients cool down some before I add the cool ingredients? If so, at what temp should I mix them?

4. And just to clarify... BTMS-25 works okay as a sub for BTMS-50 in this recipe? And I don't have to adjust the cetyl alcohol?

Okay, let's take this question by question!

1. This white crusty bit means the ingredients are cooling to the solidification point while they're still in the double boiler. This can happen if the ambient temperature in your workshop is quite low - mine is the same as the outside world as it's not heated, so the winter months can be quite chilly - so make sure you have the water in your double boiler high enough so it keeps all the ingredients liquid.

This can also happen if you have a really big opening for your container, like this huge Pyrex jug I use. It's better to have a smaller opening for a container so it is exposed to less air, which is why Erlenmeyer flasks are so awesome! (Raymond bought me a bunch for Christmas! I love these things!)

Having said that, you can see in the picture I have some white solid bits around the edge of the container. I scrape it back in and it melts pretty quickly.

Recently, I saw a video and read some blog posts in which the blogger said it was hard to melt Incroquat BTMS-50 at higher elevations. I don't understand this as BTMS has a melting point around 60˚C, which would be easy to attain regardless of the distance from sea level. In my class in Calgary, which is around 3400 feet, we melted it easily using boiling water from a kettle. (My recipes for conditioner bars are waterless, but they're still easy to melt.) Ensure you have enough water in your double boiler and use a container with a smaller opening for your ingredients. Putting it into a beaker or Pyrex jug means there's a huge surface area that can be cooled easily by the ambient air. 

2. Allow me to share a story with you about why I don't recommend microwaves. The person manning the microwave during my conditioner class was an experienced crafter. She was using a plastic Pyrex type jug and melting it in increments of 10 to 20 seconds at a time. She took it out, and smoke was billowing from the container! It had eaten through the container and was burning a hole in the plastic tablecloth. Thank God we all had the peace of mind to back off, so none of us were hurt, but it was scary as heck.

These things can take a while to melt, and it's super easy to go from not melted enough to burning a hole in the container, so I always suggest low and slow so we don't burn our ingredients or hurt ourselves.

3. You can let the ingredients cool to under 60˚C before adding the cool down phase, but work fast as they start setting up quick.

4. You can use Incroquat BTMS-25 or Rita BTMS-225 for this recipe if you want. It will be a little stiffer as this uses cetearyl alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol, but it will still work. In my recipes, I use 30% Incroquat BTMS-50 and 30% Incroquat CR to reduce the cost and add some static control. You don't need to alter the cetyl alcohol if you like having it there. Fatty alcohols in conditioners help to boost the conditioning power of the behentrimonium methosulfate, so you can use cetearyl, cetyl, or behenyl alcohol in there for increased conditioning and glide.

Related posts: What's the difference between BTMS-50 and BTMS-25?

Please check out this post where I've addressed some of these questions...

In the same post, Vaiva asked: I know this is an old post, let's hope the comments are still being answered :) I was wondering what is the reason that the solid conditioner falls in in the middle just like in your picture? Happens to me everytime. I try to make nice shapes and all of them have this dent on the bottom. How can one avoid it?

Another question is, is it a good idea to use chamomile CO2 extract in solid conditioner and in what percentage?

First off, as I say in the upper right hand corner of every single page on the blog, there are no old posts. I see comments on every single one of them, and try to respond as I can to them. (I'm behind a few months on comments, but working hard on catching up.) So please, ask the questions you wish on any post.

I find this happens when I pour my conditioner bars very warm then cool it quickly. You can try pouring them at a cooler temperature and leaving them out on the counter to cool, but you won't get the shiny look to them. No big deal, just something that happens.

There are all kinds of CO2 extracts for chamomile, but in general, unless you're using the conditioner bar on your scalp, I don't think there's any real benefit to using it, especially given the price. If you did wish to use it, check with your supplier how much to use. I found one suggesting 0.1% to 0.2%, while another suggested 0.3%.

Hope this helps!


Barb Van Ee said...

Can I say how much I love this conditioner bar because I do and I loved making it as well. Found an Incroquat CR substitute at Creations From Eden and it worked great.

Karla M said...

Hi Susan, I'm Karla this is my first time making a solid conditioner, I don't want to use cocoa butter because it will worsen my acne. I'm not sure if this will be solid enough, should I decrease the amount of oils and increase cetyl alcohol?

60% BTMS-25
10% Cetyl Alcohol
10% Shea Butter
6.5% Babassu oil
2% Panthenol Powder
4% Protein (quinoa + oats)

Cool Down Phase
3% Honeyquat
2% Cetrimonium Chloride
2% Fragrance oil
0.5% Liquid Germall Plus

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Karla! Did you make it? What did you think? I'm afraid I can't really answer these kinds of questions as I don't know what BTMS-25 you have, for instance. It also depends on your climate. This might be okay for me in Canada, but not for people in Florida. I'm sorry I can't offer more information.

Jill Gatwood said...

Hi Susan! Jill back with more conditioner bar questions and comments! First a comment: I went on a two month trip with a 50g bar of this conditioner and still had some left when I got home. Not only is it a better conditioner than the liquid kinds I've used, but it's much easier to travel with and it seems miraculous how long it lasts!

Now my questions. Did you ever find out anything more about high altitude affecting melting time? I am at over a mile high in Albuquerque, NM and curious if any of my issues have been because of that. Question number 2: You said somewhere that the BTMS fishy smell goes away in the process, but I still find that my conditioner bar smells like it. I added a citrus FO, but can still also smell the BTMS. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

Another comment: You are not only a good mad scientist, you are an excellent writer. I wonder if you've ever thought of publishing a hard copy book. I think it would be popular.

Thanks again,