I have gathered my supplies and I hope you are ready to make some tinctures with me. When making tinctures there are many herbs or botanicals that we can use, just remember this: DRY IS THE WAY TO GO! I’ve collected some items from our blog kitchen and will start with Ground Vanilla Bean, Paprika, Peppermint Leaves, Rose Buds and Petals, Rose Hip Powder, and Alkanet Root Powder. I’m planning on using these for skin toners or refreshers, as well as in foot soaks or the bath. Look around and see what kinds of DRIED herbs or botanicals you have and lets get started.
Herbs are put in a container and 80 proof Vodka or 190 proof Everclear, both are acceptable liquids. The filled jar is usually left to stand for 2–3 weeks and shaken daily in order to maximize extraction. Tinctures can easily be made in less time, so please don’t feel like infusing for 2-3 weeks is required. Each dry botanical will help you decide when finished really means finished, you’ll know because the dried herb material breaks down into awful, spent-looking material.
You will start with a clean jar, I’m using some basic pint-sized canning jars with screw top lids. You can use any type of jar or container that you choose just make sure it has a tight seal and that it is easy to add (and remove) any plant material.
Our target fill is 10% dried botanical and 90% alcohol mixture. So weigh the botanical into your jar, now multiply the weight of the plant material by 9 and add that weight of alcohol to the jar. Cap and shake. Store in a dark cupboard and shake the container once a day. This will help stir the product and allow for maximum extraction. The weight to weight ratio of 1:9 will help your tinctures become as consistent as possible. Each plant material will offer different amounts of extractives that can be given into the alcohol. So keeping a 1:9 is a great ratio to keep.
A note about the choice of alcohol. The higher percentage of alcohol that Everclear offers will allow your tincture to extract more alcohol soluble compounds as well as act like a preservative. So, if I had a choice, I would ask everyone to use Everclear. However, not everyone has Everclear available to them. So, please, adjust for what is available in your area.
Archive for the ‘Product Assistance’ Category
This is a new area for me and before last month I had never heard of the word - tincture (yes, I had to look it up). I have heard and used extracts and infusions, I just didn’t realize that I could make my own own tinctures, extracts, or infusions and incorporate them into my lotions and soap recipes. I guess someone has to make this great stuff, it might as well be us.
So now I’m here to show you how you can make your own tinctures, extracts, or infusions by using some of the great botanicals available at thesage.com and how you can use them in your own recipes.
Let me start by giving you some definitions and examples of some great tinctures or extracts that you could make with me.
Tinctures – are solutions that use alcohol as its solvent. When making tinctures the herbs or botanicals are put in a container with alcohol, 80 proof vodka for example. The jar is left to stand for a period of time, maybe two to three weeks, and shaken daily in order to maximize the extraction process. Tinctures can be used as a facial toner, added to clay to make facial masks, or added to the water when making a foot bath.
Infusion – means to steep in liquid, usually to extract a flavor. The infusion process is the method used to prepare tea and herbal teas. The tea is placed into hot water and allowed to steep until the desired flavor is achieved. Making a pot of tea and using the tea water in your lotion recipes is a great idea to make that lotion extra special. Infused oils can also be created for a great twist in making lotions or soaps.
Decoction – means to extract the flavor or properties of something through a continued boiling process. A decoction process is different from infusion in that the process is often longer and the water is kept at a boil. A decoction is used more often with roots such as making ginger tea from fresh ginger root. Doesn’t that sound great to add to your recipes? The decoction process of mashing, boiling, and straining can be used to create various types of malt beverages as well (think beer).
Extracts – all of the above are extracts but I am going to go a bit further here and explain an extract as any carrier (water, oil, or alcohol) that is used to remove a soluble portion from plant material. So, an extract might be a tincture, infusion, decoction or a combination. Boiling a plant material in alcohol will create a decocotion/tincture. For ease of reading let’s define extracts as oil soluble infusions. We will only heat the oil and plant material to extract the oil soluble properties.
Don’t worry about this set of definitions, I won’t be giving a test. Taylor might, however. All teasing aside, we will be making each of these items and you will be more prepared on how to make your body care products extra-special.
I am going to show you how to make several of these items that you will be able to use as toners, soap oils, lotion oils, massage oils, etc. I’m going to go gather some fabulous botanicals, as well as other supplies, and I’ll meet with you soon with a “how to” blog that will get you started.
I’ve had a few questions about the IQ Air HealthPro Plus and its efficiency. I enjoy having one around to help with my own allergies and I thought I would share some pictures of the PF40 Coarse Dust Filter right after installation and after 2 months of constant use.
Yuck! Can you believe all of that had been in the air? It is no wonder why I’ll happily sit next to one of these filters after seeing what gunk it pulls out of the air! If you have not seen a video of how clean the air exiting the air purifier has become, check it out! It is amazing!
What do you think of this coarse dust filter on the IQ Air HealthPro Plus?
Today we start the third day of the Empty Cupboard series! Many of people have asked me over the years about the basic ingredients I recommend for lotions and creams, so this list was really easy for me to write.
Let’s take a peek at my lotions and creams ingredients wishlist!
Required Ingredients: These are ingredients that I feel are the most important items for lotions and creams. Without these ingredients, I feel that a lotion or cream is not going to turn out the right way.
Emulsifying Wax: While we offer many emulsifiers for making lotions and creams, I feel the best emulsifier for any beginner is our regular Emulsifying Wax. This emulsifier can handle most formulations with ease. It has only given me one problem over the years and that was simply because I transposed a number and used too little! As you increase your knowledge and become more confident with your lotions and creams, then you can expand your emulsifier options if you desire.
Stearic Acid: If you are planning on making only very fluid lotions then Stearic Acid is not necessary but if you want to also make thicker creams, I recommend using Stearic Acid. We use Stearic Acid to make a cream thicker by increasing the stearines that give a cream the body it needs. Stearines are a fatty acid that have a strong bond which gives the thickening properties.
Humectant of Choice: Humectants are something that I will give you the basic information, but I will let you choose your own humectant based on your personal preferences. We carry four humectants: Liquid Glycerin, Hydrovance, HoneyQuat, and Sodium Lactate. I’ll describe each humectant briefly so you can choose the one that you would prefer to use.
- Liquid Glycerin: My first introduction to a humectant in lotion was to Liquid Glycerin. While Liquid Glycerin is a wonderful humectant, you do have to watch the usage rates and not use anymore than 3% due to the potential of the final product having a sticky residue. Since Liquid Glycerin pulls moisture from anywhere including skin, it is liked more in humid climates over dry climates. Our Liquid Glycerin is vegetable derived and biodegradable!
- Hydrovance: My favorite humectant is Hydrovance because it doesn’t have the stickiness that sometimes accompanies lotions made with Liquid Glycerin. Hydrovance is more of a long term moisturizing humectant than Liquid Glycerin as it can help skin feel soft and smooth for several hours.
- Sodium Lactate: Like Hydrovance, Sodium Lactate isn’t as sticky as Liquid Glycerin can be. This humectant is produced from renewable resources and completely biodegradable. Sodium Lactate also allows you to enjoy long term moisturization with great effects!
- HoneyQuat: While HoneyQuat is a new humectant to our catalog, it is also a great moisturizer. It is noted to be every effective with a low sticky factor that can influence the application of lotion. It is not viscous, and it is great to know that a little goes a long way!
Liquid Germall Plus: Every lotion or cream needs a preservative. Do you remember Taylor’s post about the importance of preservatives? That post makes my skin crawl with the very idea of not using a preservative! The best preservative that I can recommend is Liquid Germall Plus. It is a very effective preservative that has no known chemical inactivators nor does it break down your emulusion. The low usage rates of this preservative also means that you get more for your dollar in using this preservative!
Recommended Oils: You are more than welcome to use oils that are not on this list. I have simply compiled a list of my favorite oils for lotions and creams.
Sweet Almond Oil: This is a wonderful oil gives a soothing drag that has massage therapists in love with it. A mid-weight oil, Sweet Almond Oil has minimal odor and leaves skin not feeling excessively oily.
Apricot Kernel Oil: As I classify Apricot Kernel Oil as a mid weight oil, it is one of my favorites for lotions. This oil has a pleasant and very faint nutty odor that is easily covered by fragrance or left alone. Sadly this oil is sometimes overlooked, but I love this oil because it can be used for the many people who worry about allergies.
Macadamia Nut Oil: Firmly placed on my oil weights list as a light weight oil, Macadamia Oil is a dreamy oil for light summer lotions that are massage worthy. As it has a barely-there odor, it is great for all lotions!
Rice Bran Oil: Even if I keep trying to write Rice Brain Oil, I still love this oil in lotions! (I guess I have zombies on the brain!) I place this oil on the light side of my mid-weight oils. I haven’t written many formulas using this oil, but I really need to rectify this error because lotions made with Rice Bran Oil are perfect for season transitions. Minimal odor makes this a fantastic oil for those who have sensitive noses.
Sesame Oil: The Sesame Oil in our catalog isn’t like the toasted Sesame Oil that the Chinese are extremely fond of. This lighter mid-weight oil gives a smooth and creamy feel to lotions that I’ve been hard pressed to find elsewhere. Sesame Oil doesn’t have much of an odor so there aren’t limits to using it! (I’ll leave the toasted Sesame Oil in my kitchen!)
Sunflower Oil: While this oil is certainly a mid-weight oil, the long shelf life of our High Oleic version makes this a great oil in lotions. Lotions made with Sunflower Oil leave the skin feeling refreshed without any extra weighty oils!
Additional Ingredients: These ingredients are 100% optional. You are not required to use them as you begin to make lotions. These are simply options that you can consider adding to add a little “oomph” to your lotions and creams.
Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils: This is something that I can’t tell you which ones you should or shouldn’t order because everyone has their own personal preferences and that makes it hard to give recommendations. Choose something that interests you. If you are struggling to find something that you would like, feel free to call or e-mail us for help!
Extracts: While I enjoy adding extracts to my lotions and creams, they are beneficial but not necessary. I typically add extracts to give label appeal and please the end users. I would recommend reading the descriptions for the extracts and choosing one or two that suit your needs. Extracts are something that a little bit can really alter the feel of a lotion to a better product so if you think you have a pretty good lotion, look to extracts to make the pretty good graduate to WOW!
Tomorrow we will take a look at the basic ingredients for making lip balms!
Yesterday, I started the Empty Cupboard series with my basic equipment and containers. I’m really beginning to enjoy looking at what I consider necessities and what I consider fun additions. Handmade soap is one of those things I can’t bring myself to live without so I put together a soapmaking ingredients wishlist!
Let’s take a peek at my soapmaking ingredients wishlist!
Required Oils: These are the oils that I feel are the important base oils for any soapmaker. I feel these oils make great soaps without severe expenses.
Coconut Oil: Due to marketing efforts over the years, people have been taught that unless soap has lots bubbles their bodies aren’t getting clean. To give a soap this desired lather factor we use Coconut Oil. Want a dual purpose oil? Coconut Oil also will make a very hard bar of soap. We typically use between 20 and 30% of Coconut Oil in a batch of soap, however, not all soaps we make will have this percentage range as Coconut Oil.
Palm Kernel Oil: In the blog kitchen, we use Coconut Oil and Palm Kernel Oil interchangeably because they give the finished bar of soap similar lather, color and firmness. Palm Kernel Oil will make a very hard bar and does not contribute any color to the finished bar of soap. I have used both Palm Kernel and Coconut in a bar of soap and found that recipe was my favorite, but you don’t have to use both oils in the same recipe.
Palm Oil: This oil is one of the more universal oils and contributes firmness to soap along with a straw color. Many people refer to this oil as vegetable tallow and frequently use it as a filler oil. Many luxury soaps use Palm Oil because it gives soap a special texture and color.
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: I regard Hydrogenated Soybean Oil as one of those oils that help reduce the costs of the ingredients as well as an oil that contributes to the hardness of the final bar of soap. The soap will be firm, white and have a creamy texture.
Olive Oil: We recommend Olive Oil in soaps for many reasons. It is easy to find in most kitchens and grocery stores so you can make soap at 2 in the morning if you desire! It also contributes a dense “cream” to the lather that helps give a stable foundation for the large bubbles from the Coconut or Palm Kernel Oils. Olive Oil is a slow to trace oil that helps slow things down without making a soap prone to stalling so it can extend the working time of the raw soap. Soaps made with Olive Oil are also noted to be mild and soothing on skin which makes it a favorite ingredient of many soapmakers.
Luxury Addition Oils: My choices are just two of the many potential oils that I feel can give a soap a little extra “Oomph.” I only add a small amount of these luxury or splurge oils to a single batch of soap so they are still a cost effective addition to soap.
Avocado Oil: Most of the soapmakers on our staff recommend Avocado Oil as a luxury oil because soaps made with this oil are dreamy. The smooth glide, gentle cleansing and the creamy lather is a great addition to any soap. I particularly like this oil in any baby soap recipe! We recommend a small amount of this oil per batch, 3 to 12.5% per batch which is 0.5 to 2 ounces in every lb of fats.
Lanolin: I think any soap made with Lanolin is just fantastic on the skin. Lanolin soaps give my skin a moisturized feeling that just can’t be beat! Lanolin is actually a wax that is quick to saponify so we only recommend using a little bit of Lanolin per batch. Usually we use 1/2 to 1 ounce per pound of fats per batch of soap. Lanolin contributes a dense lather and a silky feeling to the skin when used as a luxury oil in a soap.
Tomorrow we will take a look at the basics for making lotions and creams!
Living in China has been an eye opening experience in many ways. The hardest thing for me though has been my inability to make the very things I was used to making while in the USA. Writing the blog without the ability to even test some of the recipes I’ve been formulating has also been hard. Thankfully, Joy has been very helpful by taking pictures and testing recipes for me. Since the holidays have been rapidly approaching, I’ve started making my wish list of things I want from our catalog so I can test and photo projects without giving Joy a big burden.
When I was talking to Tina about my wish list we were also discussing that my wish list would be a great list for beginners who aren’t sure where to start. I need so many different ingredients to make a variety of finished products, so this will be a series for the week to cover what I think are necessary items and what I think are good, but not necessary items.
Come join me as I put together my equipment wish list!
Scale: No matter the type of product you are making, a scale is one of the most important items. I do realize that it isn’t always feasible to go out there and get the most expensive scale. We recommend getting a scale that works for you and your desired products. If you plan on only making soap, then a scale with 1 gram readability is one that we recommend for you. If you want to make mostly lotions or lip balms, then we recommend using a scale with 0.1 gram readability. This allows you to make small batches and KNOW your ingredients have been weighed correctly. Due to my projects being the variety, I’ll need a scale that has the 0.1 gram readability. Decision: REQUIRED.
Microwave: While a microwave isn’t 100% necessary, it does make things easier to work with a microwave rather than waiting for a stove to heat a double boiler. It takes just a few minutes compared to 10 or more needed for a stove. Decision: PREFERRED.
Mixing Buckets: To begin soap or lotion making, one needs containers that are microwavable to melt the various ingredients. I like to have several of the 87 ounce buckets for making small batches. I use beakers in our blog kitchen because it helps us photo our projects to show you what you should see. When I empty buckets of oils, I reuse the buckets as mixing or storage containers. I prefer the 1 gallon buckets that many of our butters and solid oils come in for the 5 pound quantities. Also, never wash any bucket or mixing vessel in the dishwasher if the plastic container had a scented product made inside. Your dishwasher will spread the love to every next load of dishes and you might find your dishes taste like your body care products. YUCK! Decision: REQUIRED.
Spoons: No matter the project I’m working on, I use anywhere from 2 to 8 spoons. They can vary from basic blending spoons to rubber scrapers to measuring spoons to soup spoons. I use different spoons for different things! My soup spoons usually scoop ingredients out of the bulk containers, or if I just need a little or stirring small test batches. The measuring spoons are used for dry ingredients. I use the blending spoons for stirring larger amounts of ingredients or mixing fragrances into completely cooled lotions and creams. I normally used the rubber scrapers for getting every bit of soap, lotion or oil out of a container. Decision: REQUIRED.
Immersion Blender: While an immersion blender isn’t necessary if you are only making lip balms and scrubs, it is a life and time saver when making soaps and lotions. An immersion blender can help your soap reach trace quickly and your lotions become completely mixed. Decision: REQUIRED.
Gloves: If you are making soap, then gloves are highly recommended. I prefer using heavy duty gloves for protection from the lye and raw soap. If you are making lotions or lip balms, then gloves are not necessary. I would recommend a light pair of exam gloves for production facilities just to ensure you keep the possibility of contamination down. Decision for me: PREFERRED, your decision may be different.
Eye Protection: This is really important if you are making soap. You only have two eyes and we don’t want you to loose your eyesight due to a splash. I wear glasses myself and they don’t protect my eyes the way a pair of goggles do. Please, please, please! Protect your eyes. I would much rather you invest in a pair of goggles than gloves. The goggles from MMS are also able to fit over glasses and they have an anti-fog coating. YEA! Decision: REQUIRED.
Thermometer: While we don’t note temperatures on the blog, we do recommend taking temperatures for your notebook. It will help you determine what caused a problem if one occurs. Decision: REQUIRED.
Pipettes: I love transfer pipettes. They help me get small amounts of liquids for recipes, add fragrances, fill lip balm containers and more! Having disposable transfer pipettes also helps me ensure that I don’t have cross contamination of products. Decision: REQUIRED.
Paper Towels: I have to say that while making such fun products it is inevitable that a mess will happen. In order to clean up after myself I use paper towels. It makes the clean up easy and I don’t have to try to clean rags to get oils out or worry about fragrance covered rags being a fire hazard. Decision: REQUIRED.
Windex: This is one of those products that I swear on the brand name for cleaning. It helps cut down on the oils left on counters, bottles and containers. In our production department, we use Windex to clean counters and bottles before applying labels. It helps us make sure any spills are cleaned up thoroughly. Decision: PREFERRED.
Notebook: I have a notebook of recipes and notes about each recipe. It is actually a spiral bound notebook that I add each new recipe on the paper I printed it on. I do include some lined paper where I can write extra notes, but usually I just write ALL over the recipe. I use my notebook for all products I work on and I can find recipes by the date that I worked on them. Older recipes are in the back and newer recipes are in the front. You can easily change your notebook to be a paper or electronic form, but I promise that notes will be your lifesaver! Decision: REQUIRED.
Containers: This option is important if you are making lip balms, lotions, scrubs or other similar products. While your personal preference will help you choose the final containers, you will want to consider the product and the end users.
- If making lip balm, you can choose between tubes, jars or tins. I personally like tubes, but I happen to know that not everybody does.
- When I make lotions and creams, I choose jars and bottles that suit the end users. If I’m making blog samples, then I use small 1 ounce bottles and jars so the recipient can test the formula to find out if they like it. If I’m making gifts for friends and family, I tend to use 4 or 8 oz containers. They like the larger containers, but I don’t have to worry about the product reaching the point of expiration before it is gone.
- When I make scrubs, then I generally use 8 or 16 oz jars. It doesn’t take long for someone to use this amount of scrub and I know it will be used within 4 to 8 uses. The only exception is foot scrubs as those use a smaller amount of product during each foot cleansing session.
Molds: This option only matters if you are making soaps. Molds do not have to be expensive. They can be something you find around the house, that are built from scraps, or are just drawer organizers. Our blog kitchen uses a variety of molds, but our favorites are the Rubbermaid Drawer Organizers #2915, Dirk’s Guerrilla Mold, and a simple PVC tube mold. Molds aren’t hard to come by!
We have now covered the items I find to be most important in my equipment and containers list. Tomorrow, we will cover my basic soap making ingredients!
|Recently, we have had lots of questions about how to get Cocoa Butter out of a pail without melting the entire pail at one time. To help our customers solve this problem, we created a video that can be found either on YouTube or on our website (http://www.thesage.com/pub/m4v/Cocoabutter.m4v).This video shows how we chip out the cocoa butter that we need when working in the blog kitchen. Isn’t that easy?
Let us know if there are any other tutorial videos you would like to see!
|I promised we would make test batches with the Veggie Emulsifier and compare it to the Emulsifying Wax. Today we’ll share the results of our tests. We made the comparison batches using the Granny’s Favorite Lotion recipe. Instead of using Golden Jojoba, we used Macadamia Nut Oil.
When first opening the jar the Veggie Emulsifier smells a bit like celery, but we did find the odor dissipated when used in a lotion. The scent does not interfere with any level of fragrance usage.
We made a total of three test batches. Here are our results:
The first batch was our control batch made with 3% Emulsifying Wax. This batch helped us to ensure we would have the lotions match with different emulsifiers.
Our second batch of lotion was made with 3% Veggie Emulsifier. This lotion did completely emulsify, but it was very thin.
We altered the amount of Veggie Emulsifier by increasing the amount 6% and decreasing the water by 3%. This time, the lotion was comparable in viscosity to the control batch.
Recipe Variations in Percentages:
Our findings are that while the Veggie Emulsifier will emulsify a lotion when used at the same rates as the Emulsify Wax, the resulting lotion will be thinner. You can easily solve this problem by increasing the Veggie Emulsifier or by using Stearic Acid or oils with a high stearine content like Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Palm Kernel Oil and/or other oils that are firm at room temperature.
When using any new ingredients, we do recommend making test batches to make sure you like the ingredient. I hope this helps!
Have you ever wanted to pack bath salts, bath fizzies, or even tub teas into single serving bags for your customers? Now you can with our latest special! I have two different sizes of envelopes and they are perfect for almost any use. The small envelopes are 2 1/2 inches wide by 4 1/4 inches tall and the large envelopes are 3 1/8 inches wide by 5 1/2 inches tall. You may be asking, “How do I get these?” I promise that it is as simple as Taylor’s Shrink Band Special.
These envelopes come in packs of twenty (20) and can be included with any order free of charge. Isn’t that awesome? Just tell us in the comments field of your order that you want Andee’s Envelope Special. Tell us how many you want in what sizes and we will add them to your package.
Because I only have a limited quantity on hand, you won’t want to delay! After all, the holiday season is going to be quickly approaching us. Should we do some countdowns! Which holidays are you most anticipating?
|We just added a new product to our gifts section of our catalog. They are Cable Buddies! Cable Buddies are wonderful for identifying cables, keeping them organized and tangle free. I even have a Cable Buddy on my ear buds so they won’t get tangled in my pocket! I hate having to untangle them all the time.
We found these so useful that we just had to add them to the catalog. You can either purchase them or get them free in any order of $80 before shipping! If your order qualifies, just tell us in the comments field that you want a package of the handy dandy Cable Buddies! We will include them in your order free of charge.
Let me show you how to use these with Jenny’s head phones! They are simple, easy and if my instructions aren’t enough, these little gadgets have instructions on the back of the package. Sweet!
Tell us how Cable Buddies would be/ are useful in your life. I know I have fallen in love!