Have you ever ordered an oil and upon your box arriving, opened everything up and wonder why a product is so different from what you have gotten in the past? Welcome to natural variation; the delight, and horror, that every crafter will experience at some point. Think about it this way. Do you ever have years where your tomatoes look spectacular, magazine-cover-worthy and are simply bursting with flavor? Then have other years where you must have the wonkiest looking tomatoes on the block? This is what we call natural variation. These can be influenced by factors including but not limited to: heat, cold, rain, lack of rain, livestock (remember when cows got into our garden?), amount of nutrients in the soil, pollination, and even a swarm of insects causing the demolition a crop.
Natural variation can be hard to plan for because we don’t ever know what the next growing season will bring. So what can you do? First and foremost, keep good notes! For each recipe you make; record what you used, how much of each material was used, what the lot is and who the supplier is. Record the date you made the product. Make a note of the equipment you used, particularly a scale. Record the temperatures. You should feel like you may have too much data. Why? Because when something goes wrong, you will want all of that data to see what has changed. It can be as simple as temperatures. It could be a single lot that is causing your problems. It may be your scale is reaching the end of its life or simply needs some maintenance.
Having all of this data on hand may be what you need to solve the issue. And if you can’t find the source of the problem, all of that data will help our technical support team help you. We are here to help you succeed! A while back I made a project record sheet to help. Feel free to create your own to suit your personal needs and applications. If you are making products to sell, I cannot ever see a point where you might have too much data recorded. Live by the mantra ‘Keep good notes!’ and you will always be able to weather whatever changes may come your way!