Monday, May 24, 2010

Shampoo: Extended instructions for making shampoo

As per the comment on this post, here are some expanded instructions on how to make shampoo. (I'm expanding on this post - instructions for making shampoo - so I might repeat myself here.)

Instructions for making a heated surfactant mix (this applies to all surfactant based products, including facial cleansers, body washes, bubble baths, and shampoos).

1. Get your supplies ready, including distilled water. Have two Pyrex jugs ready for your ingredients.

Always choose a Pyrex jug much larger than you think you need. You'll be adding a lot of water to your mixtures, and this way you don't have to switch containers. I make sure I have a spoon and a fork at the ready, and have a spatula ready for those stubborn bits that stick to the sides.

2. Weigh out your surfactants into one container and put it into the double boiler to heat until they are easily mixed. You can add the hydrolyzed proteins, aloe vera, and every other ingredient (except the water) in the heated phase at this time.

I use an electric fondue pot from Rival as my double boiler (I put water in the fondue pot - hence, the double boiler part). I like that I can adjust the heat quickly and know the temperature. But once you've used it for making B&B, you can't use it for anything else. (I thought it was possible, but you will spill things into the pot that will cling to the sides, and those things don't go well with melted cheese products!)

You can use a double boiler of your choice - a pot with a Pyrex jug can work well, just make sure you put down some kind of little metal thing so the pot isn't touching the bottom. I bought mine at the dollar store. Nothing sucks more than hearing your Pyrex jug filled with exotic oils and butters go "crack" when you're making lotion!

3. Weigh out enough water, plus a little more, into a kettle. The reason we don't put the water in with the other ingredients is that there's simply so much of it and we'd have to wait a really long time for it to heat up!

4. When your water boils, add to the surfactant mixture in the double boiler and mix really well. You can remove it from the heat to mix well.

I like using forks to mix the surfactant mix. If you have access to a dollar store or a Daiso, they should have big wooden forks that can work very well for larger batches. Mixing might take a while - you do not want to get tons of bubbles. Some bubbles are inevitable. Ingredients like cocamide DEA are pretty unforgiving about adding tons of bubbles to the mix - they may never go down - while others will eventually go clear.

5. Let the mixture cool to 45˚C, then add your cool down ingredients, which include your preservatives, fragrance oils, silicones, and so on.

Different fragrance oils can thin your mixture, but it doesn't matter when you add it! If you use fragrance or essential oils containing vanilla, you'll probably see some thinning. Fragrance or essential oils with citrus and lavender tend to thicken the mixture. Some fragrances seize the mixture, then thin it, and others thin it, then thicken it.

If you're using another thickener, especially one that requires addition to the heated phase, you really want to keep a record of how the various fragrances change the viscosity. If you're using an after-room-temperature thickener like Crothix, you can adjust the viscosity as you wish - if you're using glycol distearate, you really don't have that choice.

I like to keep a chart on my recipe sheet for each product - I put the date, the fragrance oil, and the amount used (for bubble baths I like to use 2%) then how the mixture reacts the day I make it, the morning after, and how much thickener it required. (Click here for a short post on this topic.)

For instance, Pink Sugar and Black Raspberry Vanilla thin my surfactant based products, whereas Black Amber Lavender, Lemon Curd, Hello Sweet Thang, and Jewelled Citrus all thicken (Brambleberry, Soapcraft). And remember to include the supplier for each fragrance oil - BRV from Soapcraft and Nature's Natural Solutions, while BRV from Voyageur doesn't.

Also keep a record of the clarity of your products (check out this post for more information) as some fragrance oils can make your products cloudy. When I'm using Cedar & Saffron (Brambleberry) I use cocamide DEA or glycol distearate because I won't be getting a clear product anyway!

6. Leave the mixture to come to room temperature before adding Crothix so you can see the impact of the fragrance or essential oils on the viscosity. Add it at 0.5% at a time - unless it's really watery, then start at 1%. Add at 0.5% at a time, mixing really really well before you add the next amount. 2% is generally enough to thicken any surfactant mixture, especially if you're adding aloe vera (thanks to the electrolytes).

7. When you're bottling, always put out more bottles than you think you need with the lids nearby. Use a funnel - if you're having trouble getting it into the bottle, squish the bottle until a bubble pops up. This will suck more into the bottle.

If you're using weirdly shaped bottles, like tottles, put it into a Pyrex jug or cup to stabilize it. And buy tons of funnels - you can usually get 3 for $1.00 at the dollar or bargain store - as you'll need them for different fragrances. And throw them out the moment you can smell something on them.

8. Label your bottles with information on the batch, the fragrance, and the purpose of the ingredient. This sounds obvious, but when you've used foot lotion as facial moisturizer or bubble bath as shampoo, you'll realize it isn't easy to tell what you've made a few weeks later (especially if you have tons of bottles of different things in the bathroom!).

Spray your bottle with rubbing alcohol and wipe it off well before affixing the labels. This will make it stick better. Even though most ink jet printers offer water proof printing, the labels themselves aren't waterproof. You can spray them with that Krylon stuff (I get it at Michael's) or you can put packing tape over it.

I hope this provides you with a little more information on how I make surfactant based products.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Susan... thank you

I'm glad you've mentioned the sort of double boiler you are using.... do you recommend it for purchase?


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sarah! I love my double boiler so much, and I would definitely recommend it for purchase! I don't know how much it is - I keep getting them for Christmas or birthday presents (I have three - two for products, and one for fondue!) - but I think they're less than $50.

Here are a few posts I've written about double boilers...

Questions about heating vessels
How do you define a double boiler?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your instant response,,,, mwah
Glad your having good time with it,, very encouraging!


melian1 said...

you said: "If you're using weirdly shaped bottles, like tottles, put it into a Pyrex jug or cup to stabilize it." and i wanted to share how i cope with bottles that don't stand on their own. i have got a large tub left over from using lard to make soap with, and i filled it halfway with rice. i plunge the tubes or bottle partway into the rice (the tub will hold several), and it remains upright and easy to pour into. anything that spills or dribbles, after the bottles are removed from the tub, i just take out the clumped rice and toss it. between times, i keep the lid on it, and re-use the same rice over and over, just tossing what gets messy and re-filling as necessary.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Great suggestion, melian! I'm going to use that in the future. (I also posted it in Sunday, March 17th's Weekend Wondering. Thanks for sharing!

Cynthia Scott said...


I would like to buy the SLES powdered to make bath bombs. Is this something I will ever be able to use to make shampoo or do I need to also buy the solution type SLES in order to do liquid soapy products? It's a good thing I happened to look up the bath bombs as I might have bought one or the other not knowing to look to see if what I was buying was powdered or solution type. As I started out wanting to make shampoo but I'm now thinking perhaps I should start with something simpler or at least simpler to me - probably because I've made regular bath bombs before - obviously now looking to do bubbly bath bombs. Somewhat confused as to why they have the exact same name. You'd think they'd specify, SLES solution vs powdered SLES ya know? I think anyone could easily accidentally buy the wrong one and be totally confused when confronted with putting a powder in a double boiler lol.

What do you think?

And thank you so much for EVERYTHING here!!!


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Cynthia. It's best to use liquid surfactants in liquid products and powdered surfactants in solid products. If you get the solid SLeS, you can use it in solid shampoo bars. The reason they have the same name is that they are the same chemical, just in different physical states!

Cynthia Scott said...

Thank you!!!

I thought that might be the answer - yet MORE AND MORE products to buy!!! LOL