Saturday, December 27, 2014

A few random thoughts about measuring...

How to measure small amounts? There are a few hints I can share with you about this!

Get a small scale, like the one you see in the picture. This is a jeweller's scale. I purchased it in one of those places that smells a bit like incense and skunks, if you get my meaning, but you can also find small scales at our suppliers, in a jewellery shop, or in a hardware store as an epoxy scale. These are invaluable, especially when you're measuring extracts or cosmeceuticals!

When you use a larger scale for small amounts, don't tare it or make it zero. Put your container on the scale and measure the amount. (Say it's a Pyrex jug and weighs 100 grams, let the scale register that.) Then count up from that 100 with your small amount. The reason for this is that some scales - the Escali I love included - don't do well with small numbers. If you start at 0 and want to get to 3, it might mismeasure.

If you're measuring small amounts and some sticks to the side of the container? I always leave a bit of the heated water amount out of the recipe to dissolve powdered things and dilute sticky things. Get some very small spatulae as well to help you scrape out anything that might get left behind! If this is a huge problem - meaning, you leave behind way too much - then consider doing what I suggest above and putting the ingredient right into the container.

Remember to measure by weight, not by volume. Measure using grams or weighed ounces, not millilitres and volume ounces, as weight is much more accurate, which means you can make the same product over and over again and have the same outcome and it means you know the chemistry of your product will work. If a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of shea butter, is that before or after melting? Will 3 tablespoons of Polawax be enough for a cup of lotion? Who knows? It's just easier to work with weighed measurements on a scale. Besides, you won't have all those horrible cleaning of cups and spoons afterwards! Bonus!

Just a few thoughts for the day...


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
This may sound ridiculous, but, I've been experimenting with some whipped butters recently and found some strange things with my scale:
I'll measure everything out, melt the oils with the butters and then put them in the freezer to cool. When I bring the pyrex jug out and put it back on the scale it always weighs more. Is that strange or does it have something to do with molecules in the jug? No, clearly I am NOT a chemist. I do get a bit of condensation on the jug but by no means enough to add the extra weight. Maybe this is just the result of a wonky scale?
Side bar--is this condensation a concern for the introduction of water? I dry it as best as I can before whipping.

Diva Soap said...

Hihi, I must say I do the same when need to measure small amounts, especially those 0.something!
As for the second advice, I do like this- put all ingredinets into the bowl, put the bowl in a double boiler on heat and I if notice some clumps, and stirring with a rod doesn't hepl, I simply take stick blender and blend it while smooth and consistent.
Do you think my way is fine?

Italian DIYer said...

Just want to share with you a new tool that may help DIYers in formulating. It's a Recipe Creator, it was created by a young and skilled cosmetic DIYer, it's free and usefull.
It doesn't need any registration, but it's helpfull to register because you'll be able to store and share your recipes.
Unfortunatelly it's in Italian only, but it's not hard to figure out how it works. It will calculate how much water to 100 as well as the spreading cascade of emollients* allowing you to choose properly your lipids' combination. You can list your ingredients, adding notes...
If you find it a good tool, let it know to the author, Augusten.

*(The “Cascading Emollients” approach is based on blends of high, medium and low spreading emollients. One or two emollients cannot provide the complete profile of an elegant product. The proper combination of three or more emollients is necessary.)

p said...

My two cents to Erin... it could be simply because your very cold pyrex is affecting the mechanism in your scale! That is, your pyrex + contents may not actually weigh more, but the cold pyrex may be making your scale's reading inaccurate, so it looks like your jug weighs more. My scale goes down to 0.01 g and is very much affected by heat and cold -- I'm not exactly sure why it happens, but I believe it has something to do with the heat differentials causing convection currents, which affect the weighing mechanism. The way I deal with this problem is by putting my hot or very cold pyrex on a piece of styrofoam (it's a good insulator -- I use a piece that's about 2" thick), on top of my scale. The styrofoam keeps the scale from heating up or cooling down, and I get accurate measurements. HTH!

Anonymous said...

Oh, that never even crossed my mind, but I bet that's what it is. I'll try the styrofoam trick.
Thanks so much for the tip!


Anonymous said...

Great ideas!

My technique for weighing very small amounts of liquids is (using a very precise scale as you mentioned) tare a pipet, then fill the pipet with desired amount of liquid.Then, I don't have to worry too much about the liquid getting stuck to the sides of my measuring container.

AMJ said...

Hi Susan,
This is such a helpful post for us newbies, and/or just messy people. I don't know why I didn't think of saving some water to rinse our measuring boats. Thank you!!! I love your conditioner recipes. I have tried several and tweaked so the conditioner is just right for my hair.I love your blog. Thank you. Ann Marie