Sunday, October 9, 2011

Question: How to test temperature of your phases?

Cordy asked in this post on heating and holdingWhen heating and holding, do you take the temperature of each phase at intervals, or do you leave a thermometer in each container, or some other option? 

And Leman wrote in that same post: I always wonder whether I should be taking the temperature by not touching the tip of the thermometer to the base of the container. Thinking that the base of the container is hotter than the ingredients inside and it would not reflect a true measurement! What's the best way to measure?

I like to use a pocket thermometer (click here to see the one at Voyageur), but there are many other choices. You could go with an instant read (or relatively instant read) digital one - I bought a nice one for cooking at a cooking store for about $10 or so, but ask the proprietor if they are reliable because some can be a bit flaky - or a candy thermometer. Just make sure you have something reliable.

I like to keep the thermometer away from the bottom of the jug before I get to the 70˚C point because it could be taking the temperature of the container rather than the contents, but when I get to 70˚C, I tend to leave it in there - one in the water container, one in the oil container - and check it now and then. If you're like me - easily distracted with a tendency to start another project before the first one is finished - get a timer and set it for 20 minutes so you aren't leaving the lotion in the double boiler all day!

Do you have other suggestions for thermometers or how to test the temperature? Share your thoughts in the comments section!


Nedeia said...

I have a thermometer for liquids, but it turns itself off after a few minutes, so if I leave it in the liquids, I have to turn it on quite often.

Because I heat both phases in separate containers , but placed in water, I usually measure only the temperature in the water phase. If that one got to 70, I guess that the oils will get there too. If I have stearic in the oil phase, once it is fully melted I know that I have reached 70.

My problem is that, because I do this on the stove, not with an electric crock pot, the temps are dropping quite fast, so I have to periodically turn on the heat . this is the nastiest thing :)

Hairolic said...

I have heard of people using infa-red thermometers. They stir the water..point and then apparently get an accurate reading. I'm contemplating buying one

Anonymous said...

hardware store infrared! fantastic and on the cheap side-no worries about multiple thermometers or contamination. highly recommend.

Tara said...

I have an infra-red thermometer, but they're not that convenient because you have to keep checking the temperature every few minutes rather than leaving a thermometer in the vessel and just looking at it periodically, which I prefer. I do like the infra-red for the cool down portion because it's not as though you can mix thoroughly with a thermometer in your batch (referring to emulsions in this case).

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

It took me a little while to find the correct method to heat multiple phases of products in the same pot of water on my stove top, but I think I have it now. I turn the burner up on high and get the water almost boiling. (If it boils that's OK too because I don't have time to stand over it and wait for the water to get hot). When I see the water boiling I turn the temperature dial on the stove top down to the WARM setting and I leave it there for about 10 mins., then I put my two phases of ingredient jars in the water. I clamp the thermometers onto the side of each jar so the tip is just barely off the bottom on the inside of each jar and I wait for them to reach 70C. Then I let them proceed through the 20 mins. of steady heating.

I use an electric stove. But after trying electric appliances I'm soon returning to gas as it burns/heats/cooks more evenly. I thought of getting a crock pot (and I may still get one in time), but since I have the stove method down pretty well I can take my time buying another pot and use the money for more products! :-)

I keep tabs on the heat phases with a candy thermometer. The two I use show both celsius & fahrenheit. None of the local marts near me had any so I bought mine from a kitchen specialty store. I think they were around $5/ea. They're not cheap, but I think they're worth the money. The only problem I have with them is that sometimes (not every time) they'll steam up on the inside so I can't read the temperature. When that happens I just take them out of the jars and pop the yellow caps off and quickly rinse the inside with warm/hot water (to keep the temp as steady as possible so they doesn't steam right back up) and put them right back into the ingredients jars. Here's a link to a photo of the type I use:

Mary Harnett said...

I'm having trouble visualizing how to make this work, is there a way to keep a thermometer from touching the bottom & side of the cooking container other than holding with your hand? How does one clamp on a stick thermometer to the side of a double boiler, mason jar, etc? I've tried the type with a little clip (like on a pen) but they are too short and/or just pop off. A candy thermometer can't clip onto the side of the double boiler since it is bowl shaped, has a lip, & is not deep enough to accommodate the thermometer. So far I've been holding the thermometer so it doesn't touch the bottom of the container, pretty hot! Help!

Ami said...

You can buy a waterbath clamp similar to this :)


Anonymous said...

Does heat and cooling compromise the healing qualities of shea butter?
Does anyone know of a study that has been done to determine this - haven't been able to find one. thanks!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous! I don't allow anonymous posts on this blog, so I'll be deleting this soon if you don't amend it to include a name of some sort!

No, it won't compromise it. The fatty acids and other components of shea butter are fine at much higher temperatures than we use in crafting. If you'd like to learn more, check out the post on shea butter and check out the FAQ for questions and answers about heating and holding our ingredients.