ACK! Lotion Help!

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froggybean37

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Hi all!

I'm making a new recipe of lotion in hopes of it being a bit thinner than my usual recipe, but am having issues with it separating. Water and oils were both heated and held to 170-180 for 20 mins and combined

Half and Half Water/Pure Aloe Vera Juice - 35%/35% (70% total) - 995g
E-Wax (Traditional from WSP) - 6% - 85 g
Stearic Acid - 2% - 29 g
Sodium Lactate - 2% - 29 g
Avocado Oil - 8% - 114 g
Sweet Almond Oil - 8% - 114 g
Shea Butter 4% - 57g

I thought maybe my emulsifiers were too low so I heated and added an additonal 2% (28 g) of E-wax and another 1% (15g) of Stearic Acid, but the mixture is still separating out after a few minutes of sitting in the pot. Any help would be hugely appreciated!

Thanks!
 

DeeAnna

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When you say you heated the "oils" for 20 min, did that also include the stearic and e-wax?

Also what are you using to mix the lotion -- a stick blender or ???

I don't see any preservative in your recipe. With 1/2 aloe for your water phase, this is going to be a difficult lotion to keep cootie free, even with a good broad spectrum preservative, so I'm especially concerned if you didn't use any preservative at all.

It doesn't typically work well to add more emulsifier and thickener after the original lotion was made. Better to start fresh with a new batch using the revised recipe.
 

Muskette

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When you say "combined", have you mixed with a stick blender for a full two minutes? Thorough mixing is critical to a stable emulsion.
 

DeeAnna

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I don't necessarily mix for 2 minutes and I've never had a separated lotion, but I absolutely agree that 2 minutes of mixing won't hurt one bit. The point is you have to mix long enough and intensely enough to get to a stable emulsion, whatever that takes. Sufficient mixing is crucial, as well as having the right proportion of emulsifier and thickener to oils.

Also, did you start mixing right after the heat and hold period was over? Some people make the mistake of cooling everything down and then trying to emulsify their ingredients, and that doesn't work well either.

As far as intensity of mixing, a stick blender is really the weapon of choice for making lotion, although some people do use a regular food mixer with success. You also want to use a narrow deep container for mixing rather than a wide shallow container -- another tip for getting intense and efficient mixing.

A recipe with 70% water phase should work fine -- that should make a fairly thick lotion with e-wax and stearic. I've made lotions as high as 85% water phase and they work out fine as a light lotion for the face.
 
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froggybean37

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When you say you heated the "oils" for 20 min, did that also include the stearic and e-wax?

Also what are you using to mix the lotion -- a stick blender or ???

I don't see any preservative in your recipe. With 1/2 aloe for your water phase, this is going to be a difficult lotion to keep cootie free, even with a good broad spectrum preservative, so I'm especially concerned if you didn't use any preservative at all.

It doesn't typically work well to add more emulsifier and thickener after the original lotion was made. Better to start fresh with a new batch using the revised recipe.
I melted all waxes and oils all together, yes. I was waiting for it to cool to add my Optiphen Plus when it kept separating. Kept hitting it with my stick blender but would start seeing oily streaks to the top within a minute or so.
 

froggybean37

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UPDATE: I ended up reheating the emulsified mix back up with a double boiler to 180 and held it again. Took it off and blended it with my hand mixer for about 4 minutes. It finally came together without anymore "streaking", so I kept mixing it off and on until it was cool enough for Optiphen Plus. Added that and it all fell apart again so I blended it again for another few minutes and that seemed to do the trick. Will update again in the morning after it's had a chance to sit! Thank you all for your help!
 

DeeAnna

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But the first bit of separation came before the optiphen, so I question whether the preservative is the only culprit here. I'm still not sure I have good idea about what's going on with this....
 

Aline

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That's odd because your proportions are pretty standard.

BTW I stick blend for 30 seconds and it's more than enough (I found that out when my blender died after 18 seconds and the emulsion was still fine!). I use BTMS though (at 4.5%).
 

Arimara

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^^ I doubt it given I also use ewax and stearic acid in my creams and lotion trials (I'm still trying to see if I just like what I make or if I hate the emulsifier) However, I don't use sodium lactate. 104 F or 40 C seems to be the ideal temperatures for that preservative too.
 

DeeAnna

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Sodium lactate should be added in the cool down phase according to my notes, but I've never used it in lotion, so haven't really studied up on it and can't speak from personal experience. The OP didn't say when the SL went into the mixture.
 

froggybean37

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The initial separation did indeed come after the first blend, when my temps were still too high for my preservative - I didn't add it until after I reached full and thorough emulsion without anymore oily streaking as I didn't want to waste the Optiphen Plus.

When I make my usual lotion/cream with 65% water/aloe, I only ever have to buzz it with my SB for a few seconds and it's stable, which is why I'm confused as to why this one was being a bugger! :think: My only thought is that maybe my handy laser temp reader isn't as dependable as I thought in its old age and my oils and waters weren't as close in temp as I thought? That could explain why reheating and holding seemed to do the trick. Adding the additional emulsifiers didn't seem to help initially, but certainly didn't hurt it either.

I generally add the SL to my water phase during heating and have never had issues, but would be interested in the reasoning behind adding it after - it was my understanding it was stable up into around 390 F (way far and above my heat and hold temps), but perhaps it has a different reaction to the lotion when added after?

This morning the cooled lotion is still totally emulsified and stable, which is why I'm assuming it was my temps that were maybe off, and then when I added the Optiphen Plus it was just a fluke re-separation due to the preservative and it blended right back together.

Thanks so much for all the helpful insight!
I should add that the only other variable was that I usually use WSP's Soft & Silky Emulsifying Wax, and this time I used their traditional, but all of the reviews have people saying how reliable it is, so I am doubtful it would be that?
 
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DeeAnna

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"...My only thought is that maybe my handy laser temp reader isn't as dependable as I thought in its old age and my oils and waters weren't as close in temp as I thought?..."

If your liquids were well mixed, an infrared thermometer should be reasonably accurate. But if they weren't stirred up well, the infrared will only give you a surface temp, and that can be inaccurate.

As far as when the SL should be added -- like I said, I've never used it in lotion, so I was just going by the scanty notes I have, not from personal experience or in-depth info. If it's worked for you in the past to add to the heated phase, then it works.
 

Arimara

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"...My only thought is that maybe my handy laser temp reader isn't as dependable as I thought in its old age and my oils and waters weren't as close in temp as I thought?..."

If your liquids were well mixed, an infrared thermometer should be reasonably accurate. But if they weren't stirred up well, the infrared will only give you a surface temp, and that can be inaccurate.

As far as when the SL should be added -- like I said, I've never used it in lotion, so I was just going by the scanty notes I have, not from personal experience or in-depth info. If it's worked for you in the past to add to the heated phase, then it works.
Agreeing here. If you don't stir your lotion to gauge it's phases with those thermometers, you risk making hugely avoidable mistakes.
 

cerelife

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I don't see any preservative in your recipe. With 1/2 aloe for your water phase, this is going to be a difficult lotion to keep cootie free, even with a good broad spectrum preservative, so I'm especially concerned if you didn't use any preservative at all.
Hi DeAnna! I love all the knowledge you share on here - THANK YOU!!
Per the above - I also sub 1/2 my water amount with 98% pure aloe vera juice (AND I add colloidal oatmeal to my distilled water to make 'oat water'). I use Optiphen Plus at 1% as my preservative.
My lotion recipe is my own adaptation of SwiftCraftyMonkey's, but now I'm concerned about cooties and why the addition of aloe vera juice would up the ante to create them.
As always, I look forward to reading your answers to our questions! Thanks for letting us pick your brain :)
 

cmzaha

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Several of the product manufacturers use Aloe Juice in their lotion and cream formulas. I use 98% pure Aloe Juice and it is preserved. From all the formulas I have looked at Sodium Lactate is added to the Water phase. I heat and hold phase A & B together I do measure my filled beaker so I can add in any necessary additional water and it is heated and held. So far all my Emulsifiers are working with this method. I have been testing a lot different emulsifiers to find what I like. Optiphen Plus can be added at 176ºF / 80ºC.
 

DeeAnna

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Anytime you add protein and/or carbohydrates to a lotion in addition to the basic ingredients (water, oil, emulsifer, thickener), that means you are providing a feast for cooties and providing a major challenge to your preservative. The greater amount of food and the more complete food you provide (carbs, protein, fats) means you need to pay more attention to the efficacy of your preservative. Preservatives in individual ingredients are diluted in a lotion, so they can't be expected to properly preserve the whole product.

Just because you don't SEE mold growth or color change doesn't mean your product is sanitary. Any dairy farmer can tell you that milk (an emulsion of water, fat, protein, and carbs -- sound familiar?) can look and smell fine can contain huge numbers of bacteria. Same is true for lotion.

If a commercial producer uses aloe, oatmeal, and similar ingredients in a formula, you can bet they are extremely careful to use a tested preservative system that is capable of handling a long-term challenge. Furthermore, if you look at the ingredients list for a reputable product, you are going to see aloe solids (the food part of aloe juice) or oatmeal solids present in miniscule amounts -- quite likely even less than the amount of preservative. You're not going to see these ingredients in major amounts. That is another way to help the preservative remain effective for a long time -- control the amount of food present.

Here's an example with aloe solids:

 
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cmzaha

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I was not disagreeing with you DeeAnna. Just something I have noticed when searching lotions on the big formularies they have recipes with aloe juice in the water phase up to 50/50 aloe to water
 

DeeAnna

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Hi, Carolyn -- I apologize if my earlier post seemed like I was disagreeing with you. I was mostly responding to Cerelife's comments about aloe and oatmeal. I should have included a quote to make my train of thought clearer.

I haven't researched what % of solids are in aloe juice -- maybe a 50:50 ratio of water and aloe juice is reasonably sensible. I do know people use aloe powder in their products. This could be a safety concern, given that we all are tempted sometimes by the idea "if 1/8th tsp is good, maybe 1 tsp is better."
 
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