Saturday, June 13, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Do we use weight or volume measurements?

From this post, Conditioner!, Karen asks: When formulating your (conditioner) recipes, do you go by weight or volume?

And Crystal asked in the Lotions: Adding the additives postI am NEW to lotion making-mostly I do oil, water and emulsifying wax. And I have grown used to using teaspoons, and ounces. I don't understand how to use the percentages way. Of course, it seems way more precise. Do you have a tutorial on how to convert or interpret percentages when formulating a lotion.

Let's check out this post - how to convert recipes from percentages to weight - from the FAQ!

All the recipes on my blog are in percentages and they should add up to 100% (although there are some differences in the amount of preservative used). The easiest way to convert the recipe is to think of the percentage sign as the word "grams". So if you see 70% water, you'd use 70 grams of water. 15% oil would become 15 grams of oil and so on. The recipe will total 100 grams of product.

But let's say you want to make a really large batch of lotion to give as Christmas presents. Substitute the percentage sign with grams, then multiply by how much you want to make. If you want 500 grams of lotion, you'd see the 70% water as 70 grams of water x 5 for 350 grams of water. 15% oil would be 15 grams x 5 for 75 grams of water. And so on. You'd have 500 grams of product.

Why do we weigh our ingredients? For accuracy. Using cups and teaspoons aren't accurate, so we might end up with more or less emulsifying wax than we need, which can result in an epic lotion fail or end up with more beeswax than we want in a lotion bar, leading to drag on our skin. It makes it easier to replicate that awesome recipe you made last time, as well.

If you're curious, the scale above is a Salter diet scale I bought from London Drugs for about $33. It goes to 0.01, which is pretty awesome! (This isn't an endorsement. I make no money if you click through. Just sharing my new purchase!)


Michelle said...

Perfect timing Susan. Spent several hours this morning with my (oh so patient) husband, as he tried to help me understand weight vs volume vs ounces vs grams. Thanks for the "think of it as a gram" tip.

Kelli Spears said...

I have another helpful suggestion for anyone who has a hard time figuring the conversions, or people who just don't like doing the math part of it. I know some people just don't like math.
If you go to the Ingredients to Die For website,, you will see the word "calculators" in the upper right area of the screen. Click on that and then click on Ingredient (Formula)Percentage Calculator. You can do your entire formula on this and then print it out. It measures in Lbs, ounces and grams. You want to choose grams and then start entering your ingredients for a particular formula and the percentage. For example, if you know you want to use 5% of ??? you put the name of the ingredient, tab over to the percentage box and put in 5% and it will give you the grams automatically. I do my whole formula on this starting with my water phase, then I skip a line and do all the ingredients in my oil phase and then the last phase is your cool down ingredients, skipping a line between each phase to make it more easy to read when you actually begin your formula. You can add more lines at the bottom of the form by clicking on the + sign. Then when you have all your ingredients names and percentages, click "calculate" and it will figure all the gram amounts for you. You will already have a basic idea of what you are going to need for certain ingredients, i.e. emulsifier, preservative. And we know we need to total 100% when we complete the formula. Also, most ingredients you buy should have some information on the website your buying from on what the recommended usage rates are for that ingredient. If they don't, ask the supplier if they have that information.
One of the best parts about this form is that when you are actually making your formula and even afterwards, you can write detailed notes to the side, at the bottom of the page and on the back. Then you have this to refer back to later when you want to make the formula again but might want to make a few changes. The more detailed your notes, the easier it will be. Like Susan always says, different oils will create a different skin feel, as will many other ingredients. Or say your formula wasn't thick enough. Write that down and then you will know you need to adjust your formula to increase the thickener, and I always do a small test batch (say maybe 300 grams)the first time I create a formula so that I don't waste a lot of ingredients making a big batch, only to have it not turn out the way I hoped. Some ingredients can be quite expensive.
I keep all my formulas in plastic protector sleeves and put them in a big 3 ring binder. I keep them all categorized and then you know right where to look when you want to create a certain type of formula.
I know there are other websites that have these types of calculators. I've seen them before but cannot remember which sites because I just always use this one.
I hope this helps anyone out there who is just beginning or who just don't like math figuring. I know it helps me tremendously.

Michelle said...

Thank you Kelly for this helpful information and thank you Susan for an inspiring and very detailed blog.

Karen M said...

Thanks Susan. Another excellent post!