Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: Upsizing your recipes!

In this post, Troubleshooting an epic lotion fail, Lisa asks: I have been making and selling my lovely lotion for 5 years. Due to higher demand I went from a 5 gallon batch to a 25 gallon batch, done in an oil melter. Exact same proportions/percentages. The lotion turned out totally watery! Not thick and creamy. Is this normal? Is there a trick to upsizing lotion recipes? I know food recipes can need some drastic shifts when upsizing...

That's a lot of lotion! I thought I was pushing the boat out with a few kilograms, but 25 gallons! Wow!

No, as far as I know, you don't need to make radical changes when making larger batches. But you might need to use a different mixer. When I made a 4 kilogram (about 8.5 pounds) batch of lotion, I had to move to using a paint mixer on the end of a drill to do the mixing as my hand mixer and stand mixer couldn't handle the capacity. I'm assuming you're already do this, so I'm not sure what else to suggest.

Having said this, I have never made 25 gallons of lotion, so I'll turn to my awesome readers and pose this question: Do you scale your recipes when you are making huge amounts like 25 gallons?


Mikhail said...


First of all, let me know Lisa on what equipment you are using to manufacture your lotion. This is important because I think it's an issue of equipment. It is very easy to scale up the ingredients of your batches, but scaling up the equipment you'll use is much more difficult as it requires a lot of technicalities. Assuming you're working with a Kitchen or Paint Mixer (drill), then consider yourself still lucky cause it's working for your recipe created in 5 gallon batches.

In our laboratory, we have 3 sets of equipment when producing moisturizers or creams. During the R&D phase, where we produce small quantities of 30 - 500ml, we use professional kitchen mixers to homogenize our emulsions. During the Pilot Scale, where we produce a small batch of 0.25 to 5 gallons, we use Pilot Scale homogenizer already. Now, during our Manufacturing Scale, where we produce batches of 6 gallons up to 50 gallons, we use Steam Jacketed Vacuum Kettles with In Line Mixers and Homogenizers already to do the job.

Now, without sounding too technical, let me explain to you why we do this:

Though our Professional Kitchen mixers can produce quantities up to 5 gallons, we normally avoid this as it will spread the high shear power of the machine so thinly within the formula that it will render very poor micelles.

For batches bigger like 25 gallons, it will be harder. Why? Imagine your lotion in a big 25 gallon tank with a mixer in the middle. The circumference of the vortex your mixer would create will not be enough to reach the far ends of your tank and technically it'll require continuous scraping of the sides to bring everything in the middle and into the blades of your mixer to create small droplets.

With all of those technicalities aside, here's a simplistic advise I'll give you. When I was just starting out and didn't have all those equipment to handle big orders, I normally just divide batches to what I can handle. Let say I received an order of 25 gallons and I normally can only handle batches of 5 gallons, then I'll literally just have to create 5 batches to fulfill the order. I know it can get tough, but through this, you'll save money in the long run as you'll be able to avoid wastages of ingredients.

Hope this helps and let me know if you need advise. Cheers!

cest cheese said...

Susan and Mikhail,

Thanks so much for sharing this information. I've often been apprehensive about upscaling and the potential waste of a failed batch. This clarifies a lot.

Lisa said...

Thank you for your useful input! I shifted from a large double boiler on stovetop to adouble walled water jacketed stainless steel oil melter, tank. And switched from a regular stick blender to an enourmous 18" shaft commercial stick blender, 1 horsepower, 18,000 rpm. The major difference in the process is that I can cool down the stovetop setup by removing the inner potfrom the hot water. With the large tank the lotion is surrounded by heated water, it all has to cool down together.
Next batch I think I will melt all the oils and add water in increments, until I get the right consistancy, instead of just following my recipe. Taking careful notes, of course...

Mikhail said...

Hi Lisa!

I think your shift to a jacketed steel kettle is excellent! Let me guess, the commercial stick blender is either a Robot Coupe or Waring? With these data you've provided, here are tips you can try, which hopefully can help you with your problem:

1. It is very, very important to mix your batch with a slow paddle or propeller type mixer while waiting for it to cool down. Let us assume that the 18,000rpm stick mixer is sufficient in homogenizing your serums, you have to realize that during the phase where it cools down from 70c to 50c, your lotion is still susceptible to microseparations here and there. You might get away with it with smaller batches as your emulsifiers can work hard to ensure everything comes together.. but a 25gallon batch (with its size) is susceptible to "gray areas" that still requires adjunct mixing for maximum stability. I've been consulted by a lot of people about inconsistencies when scaling up, and 90% of the time it's really about using the optimum equipment.

2. Now, the other 10% of those I've seen are, unfortunately - formulary problems that may arise with scaling up. You see, in a professional manufacturing setup, we always make sure to do a 5kg pilot batch of newly approved formulas from the R&D. This is because, a perfectly stable emulsion produced in small quantities in the lab always exhibits problems when scaled up. Now, what we normally do with lotions, when they don't thicken up or are unstable, is to adjust or even add Polymers or Gums.

If you're not very particular with your lotion being "Natural", try using SEPINOV EMT 10. It's wonderful! Almost all of the formulas you see from Estee Lauder use this as it's a very forgiving polymer to stabilize your lotion. If you're concerned with using only natural ingredients, then try gums... Particularly Sclerotium Gum or Acacia Senegal Gum (Gum Arabic).

It's very easy to add them in your current formula as it's really just a straight addition to the oil phase.

Hope it works for you, as these tips works all the time for my existing clients.


So Rad - Whoot! said...

Hi Mikhail! I see you do this professionally - I was wondering if I could get some more info from you:) Please email me!

Lisa said...

Ah your the BEST!!! Thank you!

George said...

I think it definitely has something to do with the power of the mixer. The more you disperse the water droplets the thicker the lotion will become (even without the addition other viscosity enhancers). For a 25 gallon batch, you're going to need something heavy duty -- and you're going to need to mix longer than you would for smaller batches. If you're making only 200g of product, maybe a minute or two would suffice with an emulsion blender; for a batch that big, you may need upwards of half an our.