Category Archives: Product Assistance

Formulating from Your Cupboard – Day 1

ChemistOne question I hear on a regular basis is “How do I formulate with materials I have on hand rather than needing to place an order for XYZ product(s)?” This week I will share my secret by showing how to make a variety of lip balms. Once you learn this method of formulating, you will never want to go back!

The first thing we will need is an “inventory” of all of the materials we have on hand. I like to separate them into categories. I have waxes, liquid oils, solid oils. (I like to separate my solid oils into two categories. Things that are brittle at room temperature and the rest of them. This makes formulating much easier.) I also have categories for my extracts and flavors.

If I have it on hand, I will include Conditioning Emulsifier in my list under the waxes category. The Conditioning Emulsifier gives emolliency to the lip balm but it also makes it easier to use vegetable waxes without the formulation becoming to brittle or hard to apply. Consider Conditioning Emulsifier to being the secret to making a superbly successful vegan lip balm.

Once I have my “inventory” listed in a spreadsheet, I make notes on what I would like my finished formulations to be like. If I want a formulation to be vegan, I note that so I don’t forget during the formulating process. I generally don’t name my formulation until later but feel free to name yours anytime inspiration strikes!

When I start to formulate, I fill my boxes with numbers with the assumption that they are a percentage. This way it is easy to convert from a small recipe to a large recipe. I can even make a small 100 gram test batch!

Check out how I set up my formulation spreadsheet!

I like to use spreadsheets because I can add new products when they arrive or delete ones I have run out of. I always know what I have on hand. I can also make sure that my total is exactly 100. No need to track down floating numbers in my notebook. For me, that is a relief.

For the rest of the week, I will be making all of the lip balms that I formulated today. You will get to see how it is made, why I used the oils I did, what I thought of the formulations and the fabulous labels that Shayla has created for us! Stick around. This week is going to be awesome!

Taylor

 

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Sizing Your Soap for Shrink Bands – Part 2

Putting shrink band around soap
Putting shrink band around soap

Okay, so now we have done the hard part. We have collected our soap and our handy-dandy tape measure. For the sake of simplifying things, we will be assuming that the right and left sides will have the open ends. If you want the open ends to be on the top and bottom, rotate your bar so that top and bottom become right and left. It will make it much easier for you to determine what size band you will need.

Soap Sample Shrink Bands

Shrunk Shrink Band (Boy, that's a mouthful.)
Shrunk Shrink Band (Boy, that’s a mouthful.)

This shrink band can hold a soap up to 2.5″ wide and 5.75″ in circumference. This is perfect for small specialty soaps, travel bars, half bars or sample bars.

Bar Soap Shrink Bands

These shrink bands have been in our catalog for a long time. This band will hold a bar of soap that is up to 3″ wide and 5.75″ in circumference. This size has long been a standard for soaps in the kitchen or bathroom sink.

Dan’s Soap Bar Shrink Bands

Dan’s Bands are just a little bit larger that our Bar Soap Shrink bands. If your soap is just a little longer or fatter around the middle, Dan’s Bands should work for you. Our Dan’s Bands can hold a bar of soap up to 3.4″ wide and 6.75″ in circumference.

Jumbo Bar Shrink Bands

Our Jumbo Bar Shrink Bands are perfect for those giant, man bars. Today we have seen a trend moving to large and even over-sized bars of soap. This band will cover some of the larger bars of soaps we have seen. This band will hold a bar up to 5″ wide and 8″ in circumference. If your soap is larger than this, don’t panic. We’ve got you covered.

Jumbo Decorated Bar Shrink Bands

Perhaps you make large bars of soap with those elaborate decorated tops. Does this mean you have to give up on shrink bands? No! Try our Jumbo Decorated Bands. This will hold bars up to 3.75″ wide and 10″ in circumference. That is one big bar with some pretty lofty peaks! Go ahead. Make those decorated tops. We have a shrink band that will cover your soap and all your special needs.

 

Remember, if you shrink a band around your soap and you think that there is just too much material on the sides, feel free to trim off the excess. Make sure that your shrink band is doing exactly what  you want! In the mean time, happy soap making and may all of your shrink bands shrink smoothly!

Taylor

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Sizing your Soap for Shrink Bands – Part 1

Measuring the width
Measuring the width

Today is going to be a rather unusual day here on Adventures with the Sage. We are going to be sharing a series of posts that will help you determine which shrink bands will fit your bar of soap. Are you ready?

Measuring the height
Measuring the height

To start, you will need a bar of soap and a tape measure. (We recommend that you choose one of the larger bars that you have.) We will need three measurements. The width, the height and the circumference. Once we have those measurements, we can start choosing the right shrink band!

Measuring the circumference
Measuring the circumference

The measurements of the soap I am using today are 3  1/8 (width) by 2 3/4 (height). The circumferences of this soap is 8 1/4 inches. Once you have your soap measured, we can work together to determine what size band you will need.

Taylor

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Liquid Shea Oil VS Semi-Solid Shea

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Semi-Solid Shea vs Liquid Shea Oil

Have you ever compared our Liquid Shea Oil vs our Semi-Solid Shea? Both are awesome products but what is the difference? Why use one over the other?

Shea, in all of its various forms, is a wonderful product. I really prefer the Liquid Shea for lighter applications. Think massage oils and even hair serums. These are places where you want the delights of Shea without the heavy feeling.

Semi-solid Shea is fabulous in lip scrubs, body scrubs and even in lip balms and glosses. It adds a fabulous creamy texture without feeling too dense and heavy.

Shea Butter is the solid stuff we are all familiar with. It is heavy and is great for lip balms, lotion bars and soap. We don’t always want this heavy form of shea so having alternatives is awesome.

Taylor

 

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Hydrovance Lesson

We receive a ton of emails each week. Some are so easy to answer and others really challenge our brains. Sometimes I sit in front of my computer rubbing my forehead and reading your emails over and over again. I learn as I go. Not only does making things in our lab challenge my thought process but also your questions. Sometimes I must lean on hobbies outside of work to answer a few of your emails. Today’s email is one that really stresses “how” to work with a product and the reasons “why” we add in the first place. Read on for a quick lesson in how to use Hydrovance – which is my favorite humectant.

From the email bag:

Happy New Year! To say that this is my favorite site to research and order my goodies is an understatement! I absolutely adore you guys and look forward to another year with The Sage.

To the question at hand, I live in the desert and its INCREDIBLY dry here with little humidity as it is in Utah. My poor skin is having a devil of a time holding on to what little moisture (read lots of water drinking and using a humidifier) I can get. I’ve been using a butter mixed with lanolin, argon, comfrey, horsetail, vitamin e, lavender and or chamomile, meadowfoam, allantoin and beeswax for a few years, and wondered if adding Hydrovance was a successful possibility. I know that Hydrovance is lovely in lotions but I’m just trying to figure out any other goodies I can add in to help my poor skin. I’ve taken to applying the butter right out of the shower and following it up with a nice layer of lotion and that seems to help, but it is more to do. I don’t have any allergies nor am I taking an medications; I’m pretty healthy overall.

I’ve been with the Sage team for 10+ years now and follow the blog with all of those great ideas. I know if anyone can help me improve this recipe, you folks can!
T

The only alterations I have made to this email are for clarity and for privacy. Here is my answer:

T,

I would not recommend Hydrovance in this situation. Hydrovance is a water soluble ingredient and your mixture is anhydrous. Years ago I thought this would be OK because the lanolin can hold 2 times its own weight in water. What happened was a superheated liquid on the bottom of the pan (all the oils floated on top) and when it started to boil it foamed out of control. Up over the top of the pan and much like a lava it flowed and oozed across the stove. To move the pan I jumped in and pulled the handle, just as the hot oil and Hydrovance flowed over my thumb. It resulted in the worst burn I have ever had. The oil mixture was sticky and I could not wash it off. I tried wiping but it just clung to everything and was so hot I cried. It doesn’t take much to get to this stage. Oils hot enough to melt the beeswax (140°F) will burn the body terribly. So, based on this experience I would skip this idea.

What I would do are two different things. First, I would add Orchid Extract to your list. I know it is one more thing but I really find that this one extract is a powerhouse. Holy cow! I can leave
calendula oil extract alone if I had to take only one extract with me. Calendula is my second favorite extract. Now, I would make a lotion that I apply before the shower. I know this seems counter
intuitive to apply a moisturizer and then go wash it off but the Hydrovance in the lotion makes the shower more hydrating. AMAZING! Once out of the shower I would apply a tiny bit more lotion once I was dried off. Then I would follow up with the butter in really tough areas (elbows, feet, hands, knees).

Butters can really help, but only if they don’t get in the way of living life. Ultra thin coats that can be reapplied during the day are awesome butter applications for the skin.

I hope this helps. May I use your question for our blog? I think you have some great things to share here.

T graciously gave permission to use this email question on the blog. YEA!

Here are some bullet points for using Hydrovance:

  • Use when you have an emulsifier or can use water. This product is water soluble and not oil soluble.
  • Use in smaller percentages when you change from another humectant to Hydrovance. If your recipe uses 3% glycerin, just swap out the glycerin and swap in the Hydrovance. Don’t jump to 10% Hydrovance immediately. Most often we find Hydrovance to be very effective at lower rates.
  • Watch when heating. All water soluble ingredients will be on the bottom and the oils will float to the top. If you have a small quantity of water soluble items they can easily heat to boiling while the top part appears to be melting. Stir often if not constantly.
  • Apply lotions containing Hydrovance to the skin before showering, bathing or swimming. If your schedule allows apply the lotion 30 minutes before entering the water. This pre-water application will make a huge difference to the skin.
  • If you are going outside don’t forget your sunscreen. I know applying a lotion feels like you have already coated the skin but sunscreens are important, don’t forget them!
  • If your skin feels like it needs more help trapping moisture inside then drop all fragrances (they are solvents and essential oils are included in this restriction). Apply your lotion and follow up with something heavier like a butter or lotion bar stick.
  • Great question! I hope everyone liked today’s lesson.
    Tina

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    Room Spray with Spray Clear Emulsifier

    Finished Spray
    Finished Spray

    Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and there are lots of things that need to be done. Pie needs to be baked, turkeys need to be brined and one last trip needs to be run to the grocery store.  Whew. That is quite the To-do list . Before we all get ready for our Thanksgiving feasts, I wanted to shared a very exciting new product with you! It is our Spray Clear Emulsifier.

    Trimming the dip tube on the spray bottle
    Trimming the dip tube on the spray bottle

    This product lets you make clear sprays. Today, I wanted to share making a room spray. I will be using Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil because I want a fresh, clean scent in my home. Andee has begged me to make her one with Christmas Tree Fragrance Oil. She wants her house to smell like fresh cut trees! I might have to trade a  room spray (or two) for one of her fabulous pies!

    Ingredients
    Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil
    Spray Clear Emulsifier
    Water
    Equipment
    Scale
    Mixing Container
    Spoons
    Pipettes
    Trigger Spray Bottle

    Recipe:

    Recipe in Grams
    3.4 g Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil
    6.8 g Spray Clear Emulsifier
    340.0 g Water
    Recipe in Ounces
    0.12 oz Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil
    0.24 oz Spray Clear Emulsifier
    12 oz  Water
    Recipe in Percentages
    1% Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil
    2% Spray Clear Emulsifier
    97% Water

     

    Trimming the dip tube on the spray bottle
    Trimming the dip tube on the spray bottle

    Weigh the fragrance oil and Spray Clear Emulsifier into a container. Mix well and allow to sit for 5-15 minutes. Add room temperature water. (Hot water is more likely to create a cloudy spray.) Mix well. The product will be cloudy for a minute or two but it will clear out momentarily. If it does not clear out quickly, allow the mixture to sit for several days. The cloudy material will either sink to the bottom or rise to the surface. Decant the clear material and put into your spray bottle. Label and spritz!

    Taylor

    Weighing Spray Clear Emulsifier
    Weighing Spray Clear Emulsifier
    Mixture after sitting for 15 minutes
    Mixture after sitting for 15 minutes
    Mixing in water
    Mixing in water

    Pouring room spray into bottle
    Pouring room spray into bottle
    Adding Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil
    Adding Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil

    Starting to mix fragrance and emulsifier
    Starting to mix fragrance and emulsifier
    Adding Water
    Adding Water

    Room Spray clearing out
    Room Spray clearing out
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    A Lip Balm Tube Filling Tray Hack

    My set up filling tray
    My set up filling tray

    I love nothing more than a good life hack. What is a life hack you ask? A life hack refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency in life. Life hacks include everything from using space more efficiently to saving money or even simplified cleaning. So you can imagine my delight when one of our customers emailed us with photos of a “life hack” for a lip balm tube filling trays!

    Pouring in my Java Juice Lip Balm
    Pouring in my Java Juice Lip Balm

    The lip balm tube filling trays are fabulous pieces of equipment, but one difficulty is that they are designed to fill 50 tubes at a time. What if you want to fill 20 or 35? Are you forced back into the dreaded filling of each tube by hand? Thanks to Caleb and his ingenuity, not anymore!

    Allow me to explain how to fill only a few tubes with the filling tray. Place the number

    Allowing my lip balm to cool.
    Allowing my lip balm to cool.

    of tubes you are going to fill into the tray. Today, I put 20 tubes into my filling tray. On the top side, place 5 tubes going across the tray. These will act as a dam. Pour your heated lip balm solution into the tubes. Allow the material to cool. Remove the lip balm tubes from the top side and wipe off any material that may have collected on the outside of the tube. Scrape the top of the filling tray and remove the filled tubes. Cap the tubes and label!

    Removing the upper tubes
    Removing the upper tubes

    This is a great way to simplify things and make a custom batch quickly. Wasn’t that great? We filled our tubes quickly and saved ourselves from the tedious job of filling each tube, one by one, by hand. Whew!

    Tomorrow, I will share the recipe I used. It is our famous Java Juice Lip Balm recipe. You don’t want to miss out!

    Finished Lip Balm!
    Finished Lip Balm!

    Taylor

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    Rosemary Oleoresin 2% and 5% in soap

    About two weeks ago, I announced that Rosemary 2% and 5% both have saponification values. I must admit, I was rather startled how high those saponification values were. If you missed the post, read up on it here!

    Today I wanted to make two soaps comparing the Rosemary Oleoresin 2% and Rosemary Oleoresin 5%. I wanted to know if the difference between the saponification values would make a noticeable difference in finished soap. Come join me to try these two soaps!
    Collect Needed Materials:

    Ingredients
    Coconut Oil
    Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    Olive Oil
    Rosemary Extract
    Water
    Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
    Equipment
    Scale
    Spoon
    Soap Bucket
    Pipettes
    Mold

     

    Batch 1:

    Recipe in Ounces
    6 oz Coconut Oil
    5 oz Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    5 oz Olive Oil
    0.5 oz Rosemary Oleoresin 2%
    6 fl oz Water
    2.31 oz Lye
    Recipe in Grams
    170 grams Coconut Oil
    142 grams Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    142 grams Olive Oil
    14 grams Rosemary Oleoresin 2%
    178 mL Water
    65.5 grams Lye
    Recipe in Percentages
    37% Coconut Oil
    31% Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    31% Olive Oil
    3% Rosemary Oleoresin 2%
    Q.S. Water
    Q.S. Lye

     

    Batch 2:

    Recipe in Ounces
    6 oz Coconut Oil
    5 oz Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    5 oz Olive Oil
    0.5 oz Rosemary Oleoresin 5%
    6 fl oz Water
    2.31 oz Lye
    Recipe in Grams
    170 grams Coconut Oil
    142 grams Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    142 grams Olive Oil
    14 grams Rosemary Oleoresin 5%
    178 mL Water
    65.5 grams Lye
    Recipe in Percentages
    37% Coconut Oil
    31% Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
    31% Olive Oil
    3% Rosemary Oleoresin 5%
    Q.S. Water
    Q.S. Lye

     

    Weigh all of the oils of Batch 1 into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until liquid. Add the lye to the water to for a lye solution. Allow the oil and lye solutions to cool. This recipe has some material that can accelerate trace. Cooler temperatures are better. Mix the oils and lye solution and blend until a light trace is achieved. Pour into a molds and allow to sit for 24 hours. Repeat the process with Batch 2.

    After 24 hours cut the soap. Allow the soap to cure. Longer curing time will result in a harder bar. (If you aren’t sure if your soap is fully cured, check out this post. It helps make sense of a confusing topic.) Test your soaps and write down your notes. Which did you like more? Why? Would you ever make these again? Enjoy!

     

    Notes: I washed each hand with each soap. My right hand used the 5% soap and my left hand used the 2% soap. After patting my hands dry, I was surprised that I could tell a difference between the soaps. The soap with the Rosemary Oleoresin 2% had a lighter feel. My left hand felt clean, smooth and normal. My right hand felt clean, velvety and like I had just rubbed in a tiny amount of Dimethicone into my skin. I definitely like the soap with the Rosemary Oleoresin 5% more. It left my skin soft and velvety without a heavy feeling residue.

    I will be sending out 27 samples containing both soaps for you to try. Request one in your next order! I want to hear which one you like best.
    Taylor

    Rosemary Oleoresin Soaps 2% is on the right and 5% is on left.
    Rosemary Oleoresin Soaps
    2% is on the right and 5% is on left.
    Weighing Batch 1
    Weighing Batch 1
    Weighing Batch 1
    Weighing Batch 1
    Weighing Batch 2
    Weighing Batch 2
    Weighing Batch 2
    Weighing Batch 2
    Adding Lye Solution to Batch 1
    Adding Lye Solution to Batch 1
    Ready to Mix Batch 1
    Ready to Mix Batch 1
    Ready to Mix Batch 1
    Ready to Mix Batch 1
    Mixing Batch 1
    Mixing Batch 1
    Mixing Batch 1
    Mixing Batch 1
    Pouring Batch 1 into mold
    Pouring Batch 1 into mold
    Batch 1 in the mold
    Batch 1 in the mold
    Ready to mix Batch 2
    Ready to mix Batch 2
    Mixing Batch 2
    Mixing Batch 2
    Pouring Batch 2 into the mold
    Pouring Batch 2 into the mold
    Watching Batch 2 change colors
    Watching Batch 2 change colors
    Watching Batch 2 change colors
    Watching Batch 2 change colors
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    Shelf life of a fixed oil

    Shelf Life of a Fixed OilWe are regularly asked about the shelf life of a fixed oil (you know, the animal and vegetable oils we use for soap making). There are a few things we would like to address for storage.

    To have the freshest material I would like you to use up any oil you purchase from us within 1 year from the date of purchase.

    To get the longest life you should store your oils in a dark, cool, dry place. Dark because UV rays break down the oils. Cool because microbial activity, including oxygen exchanges, happen slower at cooler temperatures. Dry because moisture encourages growth of yeast, bacteria, and mold which can contaminate the oil by either growth inside the oil if water is introduced or by odor from growing populations of these organisms.

    In the event you live in a very moist and warm climate I would recommend refrigeration, including freezing. The one reason I hesitate to mention refrigeration to most people is they do not have a dedicated refrigerator for low odor vegetable oils. There is nothing like an oil that was stored in a refrigerator next to a cut onion. Your soaps and lotions will have an onion odor that can not be removed.

    Freezing will not harm a fixed oil. Liquid oils may congeal but they will melt when warmed to room temperature and it takes nothing more than removing the oil from the freezer and setting it on the counter. Zero energy melting of a congealed oil! There are some oils (waxes) that really have a long shelf life and I rarely worry about their stability. These are beeswax, jojoba oil and lanolin. If you plan for the 1 year rule and treat your oils with care, you will have a fine time making soaps and lotions!

    Cheers!
    Tina

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    DayGlo Discount!

    Soaps made with the gorgeous Dayglo colors!
    Soaps made with the gorgeous Dayglo colors!
    I love the holidays and they are fast approaching which means plenty of preparations need to be made. This is the time of year where my UPS man and Postal Lady become very familiar with each other. I have plenty of gifts or the materials to make gifts that start arriving in the mail. It also means that I do what I can to make sure that my money is being stretched as far as I can. This is why I am delighted to announce we are having a Dayglo discount!

    The manufacturer of the Dayglo colors has discontinued this particular line of colors but not to worry. They are going to be releasing a new line of very similar colors. So what do this mean for you? This means that you get awesome colors at amazing prices! Don’t wait! These prices will only last as long as our limited stock. Treat yourself to some budget friendly fun!

    If you are looking for some inspiration, I recommend checking out Andee’s Music Inspired Swirl Soaps. If you have your own ideas, share them. We would love to feature you and your soaps. Happy soaping!

    Taylor

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