Saturday, January 24, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: How do I organize information on my ingredients?

Sorry for the break in posting and in responding to comments, but it's been a crazy week! I have a practicum student with me at work and I have more clients than normal, so when I get up I'm out the door and when I come home, I'm on the couch!

A quick note: To those of you who would like me to get rid of the CAPTCHA thing when you comment, sorry but no. I tried that once and I was inundated with spam! As it is, I have to filter through the spam every morning. I don't want to have to do even more of that! If it's any consolation, Blogger is making me do it every time I write a comment now!

Does anyone know where to get Sucragel AOF in the States or Canada? Comment below if you do! Thanks!

In this post, what do you want to know, Elisabeth asks: Sort of a meta question here, do you keep some kind of "cheat sheet" data base for all your ingredients and their interactions with each other, or do you have it all in your head? My problem number one is to keep myself organised in such a way that I can start up smoothly again after taking a break -- I didn't have time to make anything for five months, and by now I almost feel I have to start from scratch with a proper inventory and redoing research and so on. Some pointers in how you keep all your information together would be really helpful. As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge and inspiration.

Yeah, I kinda keep some things in my head, but I also find it useful to make charts, like the ones you can download for things like surfactants and preservatives here on the blog. I also refer to the blog when I'm working with something with which I'm not completely familiar, like bull kelp bioferment or lupine amino acids, to give a few examples. It isn't an overnight thing this learning about ingredients, but with time, you'll be surprised at how much sticks in your head!

When I'm researching an ingredient, I like to write down things like usage, heat sensitivity, solubility, and the like, but I always put in big letters what I can't do with it. "Don't use with cationic (positively charged) ingredients!" "Don't use with more than 25% oils!" "Don't heat!" And so on. It takes time to get to know your ingredients, and don't hesitate to use charts and other devices to remember!

In this post, exotic oils, Heidi asks: Sorry to bug you, but I was wondering if you could recommend a reliable (preferably, but not necesarily free) source for information on products that you have not mentioned. For instance, one of my suppliers has Abyssinian Oil, Black Cumin Seed Oil, Black Currant Oil, etc. Where can I go to find information? I checked Wikipedia and the information there is not pertinent to skin care (aside from also not being vetted). I tried doing research online, and I DID learn a lot- for instance Black Cumin Seed Oil apparently cures HIV and cancer, so THAT's cool- No doubt these article authors would have said that it will also independently clean my house too, if they'd thought it was what I needed to hear to purchase it off of their web site. :( Although I'd of course also love to hear your thoughts on these items, I really was just hoping you could point me in the right direction. If your sources are all super chemistry heavy, many of us may not get all of the data there, but we may be able to grasp just enough to get the general idea without having to bug you. Thanks so much!

You're not bugging me! Asking where you can get information is why I'm here!!!

One of the most frustrating things I encounter when researching oils (and essential oils) are the near magical qualities ascribed to these lovely, but not supernatural, ingredients. The first thing I do is a Google search. I check out what suppliers like Lotioncrafter and the Herbarie are saying about the oils. Then I go into Google books (under the "more" button on Google) to see what I can find about the ingredient in that section. Sometimes I can get free previews, sometimes I can't, but I will generally find something pretty interesting in a book or two. Then I might go to EBSCO host through my local library or the university. (This can be problematic as you need to have it available for free at your library or be a member somewhere.) I like to see what kinds of studies show up about the oils.

The pictures you're seeing in this post come from our youth program on Thursday when we made whipped butter, emulsified body butter, and emulsified sugar scrub! Andrea was kind enough to donate a lot of containers to us, so we are able to make more bath & body products! Want to learn more about the youth programs to which you donate every time you get an e-book? Click here

Join me tomorrow for more of your comments in the Weekend Wonderings!


Marg said...

Hi Susan

You've probably already covered this, but the Canadian distributor for Sucragel AOF is listed as Gattefosse Canada ( Have you contacted them for assistance?

melian1 said...

i keep extensive notes! i couldn't manage without them. when i'm reading this blog, or the dish, or other reliable source, and i come across an ingredient or comments or information about that ingredient, i copy and paste into my notes. it's all kept on computer which is easy to add to, find again (filing just means i have to search and search and search when i want to find something), and print out or read again. i have a folder of emulsifiers, etc. i have a folder for my formulas, and also one each for those things i make all the time. i have a recipe form where i insert the amounts i'm making this time (from the formula, because i don't make 100 gram batch very often, more often it is 12 oz or 16 oz or such). i keep notes at the bottom of the recipe form about how it felt, what i changed, what others said, along with the date. very handy when i want to refer back and see how old spomething is when i'm checking or testing it.

when it comes time to make a recipe, i print out the form (which i've filled in according to the amounts i want for that particular batch), and use that. i check off what i use as i add it, (so i don't forget anything), put down the exact amount added (over pours and over pours) which is a godsend when i want to figure out why something feels different or acts different. that is filed in my actual physical file. i can always go back and see what i've done previously.

also right there on the recipe form, i put any notes about the ingredient. temp range for phenonip if i'm using it, temp ranges for other ingredients, things that can be added to the hot water or cool down or whatever.

made my life a LOT easier once i figured out to keep notes. keep lots and lots of notes!

Donna said...

I keep an Ingredients binder. It's divided alphabetically and I have a running list of items in the front that I want to learn more about. I cross them off as they're added so I feel like I'm getting somewhere! Skimming through the binder periodically helps keep things fresh in my mind. It's also great for looking up specific items later. I hand write all of my notes so I can circle important details, draw arrows, etc.