I'm still working my way through the comments I've seen on the blog in the last few weeks. I'm still around September 3rd, but I'm getting closer to the present date! This is what I get for playing in the workshop instead of playing on the computer, eh? Let's take a look at a few in today's Weekend Wonderings!
In the post, before you write to me, read this, Kat asks: I want to use powdered mango extract in an emulsified cream. I have read of the issues with strawberry extract. Does this apply to all fruit extracts? Or do they react individually? Are there ways to deal with the preservation challenges? More amounts, more kinds... or is it just not worth it because the shelf life will be so shortened no matter what?
Great question, Kat. The answer is there isn't an overall thing you can say about all powdered extracts, except when we use them, we generally want to use a little more or a more intense preservative for our products. I'm not sure about mango extract specifically because each one has its challenges depending upon the make-up of the extract, the type of product in which you're using it, and the usage rate. We know strawberry extract can be hard to preserve because the manufacturer tells us that, we know that green tea extract can sometimes cause a redox reaction, and we know papaya extract is most effective at pH 6, but what about things like mango extract?
Talk to your supplier. They are the first place you should turn about a specific ingredient, especially for something like an extract, because it's hard to know which manufacturer produced what you're using today, and we want to make sure we have all the information we have. Ask them what they've experienced and what the manufacturer suggests. Ask them to send you out a data bulletin that gives you all the information they have. Ask them before you buy it and ask them after you buy it. Ask ask ask! (Have I made my point? Yay!)
You can use preservatives that are good for hard to preserve things, like Germaben II. Make sure you're using a broad spectrum, well tested preservative that works with mold, yeast, fungi, bacteria, and other things, and not something that only works with a small portion of those contaminants. (You might want to reconsider using newer preservatives, like Leuicidal, that have only been around a short period of time and haven't been tested with every ingredient under the sun, like some of the parabens have been!) You can combine preservatives to create a broad spectrum preservative, something like Cosmocil CQ isn't a good anti-fungal, so you could combine it with a paraben or benzoic acid to get something that fights everything. Preserve at the maximum rate, for instance, 1% for Germaben II. Make sure your product is at the right pH for your ingredients, product, and preservative, and make sure you're not using something that can inactivate the preservative, like a non-ionic solubilizer (in some cases).
I've used loads of liquid extracts, including strawberry and white willow bark, and have never had a preserving problem with them, even at lower preservation rates.
You can also check out what other extract might offer what you want. Mango is supposed to be good for reducing the degeneration of skin cells, reducing wrinkles, and reducing dry skin. It is high in Vitamin A and C and beta carotene. (Although it didn't fill me with hope that this was based on science seeing the phrase "is reputed to..." on the supplier's site...) If you want something that does these things, but find you can't preserve it well, consider finding another extract that is easier to preserve.
To answer the last part of your question, I think it's worth it. Botanical extracts offer loads of nice vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, colour...tons of great things. I wouldn't make a body wash without out willow bark extract, and I love the strawberry (liquid) for my toners. The shelf life isn't that shortened - I don't think I would consider it shortened, unless you're looking for more than a year - and the benefits outweigh the problems!
I cannot stress enough how much you need to preserve botanical ingredients - although you, Kat, clearly are keeping that in mind! If you are using a botanical ingredient, you must take more precaution than if you aren't!
In this post on Leucidal liquid (preservative), makingskincare noted (with some great links!), I was interested to read Ann Marie's comments on Leucidal on 17 Oct 2012, "I have heard of Leucidal and have tested it personally here for potentially bringing in to Bramble Berry. It molded on us in multiple tests, some as early as a week" and her comment on 7 Nov 12 - "We’ve tested it here and have not found it to be an adequate preservative under normal manufacturing conditions for home crafters. Our product molded rather alarmingly quickly."
In this thread on Chemist's Corner, a commenter named Robert notes, "I would caution you about the Leucidal liquid, though. It has quickly developed a very bad reputation in the industry for being completely ineffective."
Wow! That's a powerful sentence. But I'm hearing this from a lot of people. I didn't have problems when I tested it, but I didn't really use it in very many products, was obsessive about good manufacturing processes, and didn't have it challenge tested. (Plus, my anecdotes don't consistute data! Just my experiences.) I would be very cautious about using it in anything given what I'm reading. I'm giong to update the post on this preservative with this information and do more reading.
In this post on liquid Germall Plus, an anonymous commenter asked: Do you know how long this preservative is effective for? What sort of expiration date should someone put on a product that uses this preservative? Also is the powdered form odorless? Thanks in advance.
I don't know about the powdered form, sorry. The liquid form is odourless. The preservative has a shelf life of two years, which means if you use it the day you buy it, you can preserve a product for two years.
A shelf life is a hard thing to figure out, what with the shelf lives of the ingredients in theory and in reality, including things like anti-oxidants, and what your friends and family will do with the products when they make it into their hands. I feel comfortable saying that anything I make with reasonably long lived oils (a year or more) will have a shelf life of a year when I use liquid Germall Plus. (I don't like to make claims longer than that!)
As a reminder note, I will have to delete your comment as it was done anonymously, but I'll link back here. Please please please put your name on your comment! This isn't optional on this blog as we want it to be a place of friendliness, and anonymous posts are not condusive to that environment. And I must thank the hordes of spammers visiting the blog every day for following this request, too!
Shelf lives of our products (part 1)
Shelf lives of our products (part 2)
Determining the shelf life of your product
How do anti-oxidants affect the shelf life of your product?
Join me tomorrow as I take a look at more comments you've made in the last few weeks!