Thursday, November 16, 2017

Present ideas for crafters - mixers!

Yesterday, we made some suggestions for gifts you could give to your favourite crafter. I can't believe I forgot all about mixers! Click here for another post on ideas for presents! 

When it comes to hand mixers, I like to have one that has loads of attachments. When I'm teaching at Voyageur Soap & Candle, we use Black & Decker hand mixers that have whisk or beater attachments. These things are so fast, we only use one beater at a time!

I've also been using this inexpensive Hamilton Beach mixer that came with four beaters and a whisk. It's a very powerful one.





I have a Kitchenaid Architect 9 speed mixer that has a blending rod, which is awesome as a propeller mixer, as well as whisks and beaters. (See it here at Best Buy in Canada.) I love this one so much. It's much slower to start than the Black & Decker, but it's powerful as heck. It's ideal for things like making an oily gel with Sucragel AOF, which requires a propeller mixer, ane one of the gels I've been using lately...can't remember which one!

Oh, and we also have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, which is great for larger batches and things like emulsified scrubs or whipped butters that need to be mixed for a while.

It's helpful to have both a hand mixer type thingie and an immersion blender. Stick blenders are high shear mixers, and some emulsifiers like Olivem 1000Simulgreen 18-2, and Varisoft EQ 65 require high shear to come together. You'll also want high shear for gelling agents like Siligel or to incorporate lovely things like Penstia powder.

I hate hate hate immersion blenders as they're so hard to clean, but they're a necessary evil. Is there something I can use that'll make clean up that much easier? Thank goodness, yes! I'm in love with this MiniPro Mixer from Lotioncrafter*.

It's way more powerful than the little mixers or drink foamers I've purchased in the past, and it's super easy to clean up by whirring it in a container of soapy water.

As a note, I know some of you will write to me saying that it's easy to clean immersion blenders. It's not. My husband usually cleans them for me as I have such a hard time with them, and he notes that last time, it took three Q-tips to get it clean! 

This MicroMini™ Mixer from Lotioncrafter* is super powerful, but so small you can get it into a bottle to mix all those annoying powdered extracts and other things.

I tried to get an action shot of this mixer, but it's hard for me to take pictures and mix and not spill all over my workbench!






I love this little "Deluxe Cordless Mini Mixer" from Candora Soap* (Ontario) as it comes with a few little attachments, which come in super handy when you have to change from an immersion attachnent to a whisk attachment quickly.

Which one do you use the most? Which one do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Please note, none of these are affiliate links, and I receive nothing if you click through or purchase anything about which I write on this page or this blog. I am sharing this information as these are things I love! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christmas present ideas for the crafters in your world - stuff for your workshop

Everyone I know tells me it's hard to shop for me as I make everything I want, so I thought I'd share a list of things you could buy for the bath & body crafter in your world.

I wrote about this topic a few years ago, and thought I'd update it for 2017. Please note I provide the links to online shops as a courtesy. None of these are affiliate links and I receive nothing if you click through and buy anything. 

Heating and holding and melting solids slowly is easiest in a double boiler, and I've been using this Rival Fondue Pot as my double boiler for more than 11 years now. My favourite feature is the dial that allows me to choose my temperature, so I can boil the heck of something, then turn it down before the water starts jumping out of the pot.

I can fit two 1 litre beakers or two 500 ml Pyrex jugs in it, which is more than enough for my needs in my workshop.

Canadian Amazon link
Canadian Walmart link
American Target link for the Oster fondue pot

A tiny scale that weighs to 0.1 grams or 0.01 grams. I've used a Salter diet scale from London Drugs for years, but the last few I've had were ruined during classes when someone poured melted butters or waxes on them. I've moved to this little scale, Smart Weigh ZIP300 Ultra Slim Digital Pocket Scale with Counting Feature, 300 by 0.01g, which I found on Amazon for $18.99.

You could also go into a hydroponic or head shop and get a very accurate scale there!



I think pH meters are essential pieces of equipment for those of us who want to move beyond using the basics to make facial products, hair care products, and more. I've done some testing of a few meters - which you'll see on November 27, 2017 - and the two I like the best are the PH-200 from HM Digital and Jenco 630, but both of those will run you around $100 Canadian. For a less expensive one, consider the Etekcity - the yellow one in the middle - for about $30.

Check out Amazon or your local hydroponic shop to find some of these things.


A nice lab notebook where they can keep all their notes. I make my own as I really like Doane paper but don't like their books, but you can get someone a really nice book with dot grid or graph paper that opens flat as it's a serious pain in the bum to have to hold something down when you have a mixer in your other hand!

Do you have ideas to share? Make a comment or two below!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Question from Patreon: How can I make a shower gel concentrate?

In the September Patreon Q&A, Sally asked: How can i make a shower gel concentrate?  I want to be able I want to make a large batch using some sci which takes a long time to melt, then dilute and add a different fragrance when I want say 300 mls of product. Do I just melt and mix the different surfactants using little or no water?

This isn't directed at you, Sally, but I don't understand why people think melting SCI (sodium cocoyl isethionate) is so hard. It isn't. You just need to choose the right surfactant to help dissolve it. You can add some anionic surfactants like disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, or sodium lauroyl sarcosinate. You could add an amphoteric surfactant like cocamidopropyl betaine or cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine. Or you could add some non-ionic surfactants like polysorbate 20 or 80, decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside, or PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate.

My first choice is always cocamidopropyl betaine because it increases the mildness of the surfactant mix! (As a note, I'm calling it cocamidopropyl betaine instead of coco betaine because they are, in fact, two different products. It's a pain to type, but it's a good thing to be accurate!)

When melting SCI in a double boiler, you want to melt it only with the surfactant that can help it dissolve best. (I wrote a post on this a few weeks ago, so check it out here.)

As a note, if you're using the powder - I'm using this version from Windy Point Soap (Alberta) - it doesn't need heating for things like shampoo bars, and only needs quick melting in a liquid product.

Also, why are people using so much SCI as the primary surfactant when it really isn't that water soluble? Don't get me wrong, I love this surfactant so much, but you're lucky if you can get 10% in a formula without it solidifying. And you can't do that with a non-powdered version very well. You can see the results of using SCI noodles in a body wash in this post.

Related links:
Chemists' Corner discussion about SCI
Clariant's data sheet on their versions of SCI (I use Hostapon 85, which is very easy to melt)
Excellent article on the solubility of SCI - I encourage you to read this science-y article as it's really interesting. 

Okay, back to the question at hand. You can make a shower gel that you can fragrance later on in two ways.

1. You could make a concentrate that doesn't contain water by making up something like this formula - I love this body wash, but there are so many different versions on this blog - without the water bits.

BODY WASH WITH SCI
HEATED PHASE
37.5% water
5% SCI
15% cocamidopropyl betaine
20% LSB (or other anionic surfactant of choice)
10% aloe vera
3% glycerin
3% condition-eze 7
2% hydrolyzed protein

COOL DOWN PHASE
2% panthenol
1% fragrance or essential oil
1% liquid Crothix (may not be necessary!)
0.5% to 1% preservative
colour, if desired

I've worked out the formula without the water, fragrance, colour, and Crothix thickener. The total is 60.5%. I divided each ingredient by 60.5, then multiplied by 100 to get the percentage. So I divided 5% SCI by 60.5% to get 0.0825. Multiply by 100 to get 8.25%. 

BODY WASH WITH SCI THAT DOESN'T CONTAIN WATER
SURFACTANT PHASE
8.25% SCI
24.8% cocamidopropyl betaine
33% LSB or other anionic surfactant of choice

REST OF THE STUFF PHASE
16.5% aloe vera
5% glycerin
5% cationic polymer, like honeyquat or polyquaternium 7
3.3% hydrolyzed protein

COOL DOWN PHASE
3.3% panthenol
0.8% liquid Germall Plus

This would be quite thick. You could add water to the mix - somewhere between 30% and 40% - as well as Crothix to thicken, if necessary, and a fragrance oil at 1% or so.

2. Find a formula you like. Make it in a big batch, then store it until you want to fragrance it. (Related link here in the FAQ.) I do this all the time as I like to change my body washes or shampoos with the seasons. (Right now, I'm all about the oatmeal, milk, and honey as it smells like marzipan!) Remember that fragrances can affect the clarity and viscosity of surfactant blends, so if you choose something that thins it out - like those that contain vanilla - you'll need to thicken it up with some liquid Crothix at the end.

Related posts:
Surfactants & fragrances - viscosity
Surfactants & fragrances - clarity
Fragrances and our products

Related posts on using SCI in liquid products...
Experiments in the workshop with polyglucose/lactylate blend
Ridiculously moisturizing body wash with esters
Formula for a 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and conditioner
Orange & honey hand cleanser with SCI
And there are more on the blog if you do a quick search for them.

Other related posts:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I have removed all the charts from this blog - updated on November 12, 2017

I have removed all the charts I created for oils, butters, preservatives, and more as well as all the free PDF tutorials and handouts as I'm tired of seeing people using my work without linking here or giving me credit. These charts are the result of a lot of reading and researching. The three newest ones I had planned to share on emulsifiers, extracts, and cosmeceuticals have been in progress for at least 18 months.

You will not see any charts on this blog again for download. 

To respond to the people who have been saying that I'm trying to make money from my charts - so what if I am? These are my charts, and I can do what I like with them. Don't I give away enough? Don't I deserve to be paid for my time, my work, my writing? 

The three companies distributing my e-books - Voyageur Soap & Candle, Windy Point Soap, and Lotioncrafter - are the only ones allowed to share these charts with the e-books or during classes. I send them out with e-books, too. These are the only ways you can access them at this time.

If you see someone sharing my charts on a web site, blog, or forum, or sharing them in a Facebook group, they are doing this without my permission and against my very clear requests that anyone wanting to share the charts link directly to the blog to download them. No one has permission to share these charts publicly. No one has permission to host them anywhere but on this blog. No one has permission to use these charts in any classes they may be offering. 

My dad used to say it only takes one bugger to spoil it for everyoneThese people are some of the buggers...

All Sorts of Soap - I have written repeatedly to her to remove the charts, but they're still there.

Eat Live Wear - I have written to them repeatedly, but they're still there. It's nice to know she likes my work so much, she's plagiarized great swaths of it.

The Root & the Vine - this one seems to be by the same person as Eat Live Wear, with big swaths of my work copied and pasted as well as hosting the charts.

There are - sadly - many many more, and I will be posting their names here as I encounter more since writing to them directly does nothing.

I can't believe I have to say this, but the materials you find on this blog and in my e-books are my work, and you do not have permission to copy them and sell them, use them in your classes, host them or post them on your website or blog or Facebook group. You can link to my work or quote sections of it, but you cannot use my formulas, write ups, charts, or other materials in your paid classes, online courses, blogs, and so on. (If you want permission, write to me.) You cannot share formulas or writing you find in my e-books or e-zines. You cannot share materials from my paid Patreon subscription.

Copying my work, using it to make money, or hosting my charts or PDFs aren't ways of showing me you like what I do - it's theft, and I call you out as a bugger who spoils things by being a taker. You are the reason things go behind paywalls, why people like me feel taken advantage of or get burned out offering things for free. You're trying to get credit and money for work you haven't done, and that's a scummy thing to do. 

I'm sure you know about the plagiarism by Marlene Daniels of Soapconscious earlier this year, but there's so much more theft of my work going on from a course being taught that has copied and pasted my work to blog writers who think they're disguising my formulas and/or writing but don't know enough to know how to alter them so they aren't identifiable.

I know you're doing this, as do so many readers who have written to me. I ignored it for a while as I didn't have the energy to fight back with the hell I've been through in the last year. You don't know me well enough to know how true this is: My mom said the only thing more dangerous than an angry Susan is an angry Susan who knows she's right, and I'm done waiting for you to give me credit, pay me, or take down my material.

Okay, it's safe to come out now... :-)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Question from Patreon: Is there a limit to how much carbomer can be used in a lotion?

In the November Q&A on Patreon, Sawyer asked: Are there limits to how much carbomer can be used in a oil in water face cream? It seems to be a common ingredient in face lotions, and I love the idea of a cushiony lotion, but when I try to emulsify my gelled water phase with my oil phase the result is a separated mess. 

Great question! There really isn't a limit, apart from not using so much that it becomes a big Jell-o-y mess. Having said that, I think that we can use too much, as you'll see in the next few examples.

If you look at this one, Velvet Care Lotion, you'll see that they're using 0.25% Ultrez 20 in the heated water phase, which seems like a tiny amount, but it is enough to give us that cushiony feeling we want.

This one, In-Shower Lotion, has 0.30% in the heated water phase, while this one, Party Time Shimmering Cream, has 0.40% in the heated water phase.

The lotions to which I've linked above suggest that the Ultrez 20 is sprinkled over the surface of the water phase, which is heated to 65˚C to 70˚C. The sodium hydroxide (neutralizer) is added after the two phases are combined, but when it's still hot.

So how much can we use? Here's what the company suggests...

Recommended polymer use level is formulation dependent. For surfactant-cleansing applications with low-to-moderate surfactant actives 0.8% to 1.0% is recommended. For use in emulsions and gels, 0.3 - 0.7% is recommended, depending on electrolyte content. Processing instructions are simple.
  1. Sprinkle polymer on surface of water and allow to self-wet.
  2. Begin gentle agitation.
  3. Keep agitation to a minimum (to avoid air entrapment) while adding remaining ingredients to formulation.
  4. Neutralize: can be pre- or post-neutralized (depending on the needs of the formulation).
What we can see is that we don't need much to get the effects we want, so I'd suggest starting with 0.30% in the heated water phase with 0.69% 18% lye solution or 0.45% triethanolamine and see if you get what you want. Add the Ultrez 20 to the heated water phase, and add the neutralizer in a separate phase after you have added the heated water phase to the heated oil phase as per the examples above.

How did I come up with those numbers for the TEA or lye? For this and much more, please check out this post on Ultrez 20! 

So the short answer is that although there isn't really a limit to how much you can use, there's definitely a suggested usage rate of 0.3% to 0.7% for Ultrez 20.

I've just realized in writing this that I've never shared my formulas in which I've used Ultrez 20 and Sepimax ZEN in a lotion! I'll have to fix that soon! 

If you're interested in learning more about my Patreon feed, please click here and see what it's all about.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Question from Patreon: Will my oils be diminished by heating and holding?

In the November Q&A on Patreon, Ingrid asked: I understand the heat and hold process when making lotions and creams. Can you please tell me if I do this with oils such as pomegranate seed oil, red raspberry seed oil and evening primrose oil, will any of their properties be diminished, or are they 'tough' enough to withstand heat and hold? 

We know that heat isn't the best friend of oils, and that we keep them in a cool, dark place to slow down the process of rancidity. (Don't forget, you can keep them in the fridge or freezer to slow it down even further.) So why can we heat them to make products? Because we aren't exposing them to extreme heat for that long - 20 minutes is a pretty short period of time and 70˚C is well below even the lowest smoke points for oils. We are reducing the shelf life a titch by doing this, but it's not that significant.

As well, our oils all have very high smoke points or the point at which they start smoking when heated. Even the unrefined versions of oils need need to get to 107˚C or 225˚F before you start doing some damage to them.

The short answer is that I've never met an oil that couldn't handle heat, so you can heat and hold any oils.

Related post:
Heating & holding our ingredients


If you're interested in learning more about my Patreon feed, please click here and see what it's all about.

Friday, November 3, 2017

From the pages of Patreon: How do I emulsify silicones and oils?

In the Q&A thread for October on Patreon, Lisa asked: I’m trying to emulsify silicones and oils. They keep separating. No water phase. Just silicones and oils. 

Silicones and oils don't mix. Although we consider them both oil soluble in lotions - for instance, when we are thinking about emulsifying something in a hair conditioner or a facial moisturizer - they really aren't, so they'll separate when combined.

We generally think of our ingredients as being
a) hydrophobic, or water hating
b) hydrophilic, or water loving
c) lipophobic, or oil hating
d) lipophilic, or oil loving

But there's a third category of ingredients that are siliphilic - silicone loving - or siliphobic - silicone hating. Silicones are hydrophobic, lipophobic, and siliphilic. They prefer to hang out with other silicones away from water and oils.

As an aside, you've probably read that dimethicone is considered a barrier protectant ingredient. How does that work? "It is the lack of solubility in oils and water that makes dimethicone a barrier when applied to skin."

When we create an emulsion or get things to combine that don't want to combine, we need a surfactant with one end of the molecule that loves water and the other end of the molecule that loves oils. We call these emulsifiers.

What the heck is an emulsifier and why is it so necessary? An emulsifier is something that can make water and oil play nicely with each other. We know that oil and water don't mix, but we can make them mix by using an emulsifier and using heat, chemistry, and mechanics to make that lotion stay together. If we don't have an emulsifier, we can make oil and water mix temporarily - think of salad dressing and how we shake it - but that combination won't last long. Using a chemical emulsifier with heat and a lot of mixing makes for a more stable emulsion. (A chemical emulsifier should have a water loving head and a fat loving tail and they bring the water and oil together.)

When we make an emulsion that includes silicones, we are actually creating something with three phases - water phase, oil phase, silicone phase - that could be more unstable than one with just water and oil. It's not hard to create something that works well - take a look at any number of my hair conditioner formulas using Incroquat BTMS-50 to see how simple it can be - but we definitely need an emulsifier of some sort to mix these things together. 

Related post:
Silicones and the HLB system

The problem with something that's just oils and silicones is that I can't find something to bring just those two things together or something with an oil loving end and a silicone loving end. Generally we have something like Lotioncrafter's Serum SE to make something with water, a small amount of oil, and silicones.

So what can you do? It might be easier to choose a silicone that can be combined with oils or esters. Something like regular old dimethicone 350 cs doesn't stay combined with carrier oils, but an elastomer might work.

What's an elastomer? "An elastomer is a polymer with viscoelasticity (having both viscosity and elasticity)..." (reference) The silicone molecules are linked with other silicone molcules to create a more viscous silicone, which can range from the scoopable loveliness you see in the picture above of Optiblur, to something very thick that has to be cut. They're used to film form in things like lipsticks, create that soft silkiness we like in make up primers, or smooth down our cuticle and prevent frizzies in hair are products.

For instance, Lotioncrafter is carrying a silicone elastomer called OptiBlur™ that can be combined with all kinds of oils and esters.

  • 20% Optiblur™ Elastomer is miscible with 80% caprylic/capric triglycerides, isododecane, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, cyclomethicone, or phenyl trimethicone
  • 80% Optiblur™ Elastomer is miscible with 20% phenyl trimethicone or cyclomethicone, but will separate with 20% caprylic/capric triglycerides, isododecane, C12-15 alkyl benzoate. 

What this means is that you can mix 20% of this ingredient with 80% caprylic/capric triglycerides (also potentially known as fractionated coconut oil at some vendors), and it will remain mixed.

Something like Lotioncrafter's EL 3045 (INCI: Cyclopentasiloxane (and) C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer) might also be a good choice as it "is an excellent anti-syneresis (anti-weeping) agent in water in oil emulsions and anhydrous systems. Picture this product as a fluid-containing sponge. The sponge is the silicone copolymer network and cyclopentasiloxane is the fluid. This silicone sponge allows its carrier or fluid to travel in and out, and can be receptive to other cosmetic ingredients. As a result, it holds oils or liquid in the external phase reducing syneresis."

You could use something that might make it easier to incorporate cyclomethicone or dimethicone into a product, something like phenyl trimethicone, but I'm not sure how much to use yet.

The other alternative is to make a solid product. I've been making a lovely lotion bar that contains dimethicone and cyclomethicone for years, and it has never wept or separated. A balm might work as well.

Or you could accept this will separate and needs to be shaken before every use.

So the short answer is - I don't know. And the longer answer is that I still don't know, but there are a few ingredients that will make it easier to keep them together.

If you want to learn more about silicones, check out this free e-book by Anthony O'Lenick, who is a master of silicones. 

Related posts:
Making a water-in-silicone serum with Lotioncrafter Serum SE

Reference:
Why use silicone in personal care applications, part one by Anthony O'Lenick
Silicones in personal care products
Selecting the perfect silicone for your formula