Successful tips for using Sucragel?

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AKelly75

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Hi, I have been attempting Humblebee and Me’s recipe for an oil cleanser using sucragel. After 3 attempts, I’m getting frustrated. I purchased Sucragel CF, slightly different than what she used, but supposedly works the same (one made with Sweet Almond oil, the other CO). I have also watched several videos on making oil cleansers with this ingredient.

First attempt, used a mini frother. Added oils by half of a Pipette each time. Completely unsuccessful.

Second attempt, used one beater of a hand mixer in a Pyrex 2 cup measuring container. Added half a pipette of oil each time. I stopped halfway through adding the oils as it never thickened up and I didn’t want to waste the rest of the ingredients.

Third attempt, moved to a much smaller rounded bottom glass container (holds a total of 3 ounces). This time, I added 2-3 drops of oil at a time. It started to thicken up, but then the mixture split (thinned out, lost its opaque color). I increased the speed and stopped adding oil in the hopes to get it together again. Nothing.

I have read that one reason a mixture may split is due to a sudden change in the pH during buffering (below 4.8, above 8, if I remember correctly). Could I have somehow caused the pH change and how? Also, the Sucragel is about a year old. Could the age of the ingredients have caused this? I understand from reading that you cannot mix Sucragel too much. However, each attempt has been an hour long or more process with failure at the end. Thoughts?
 

AKelly75

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I’d like to include that I am on attempt 3/4 now. I left attempt #3 out for 24 hours. It was a slightly thicker gel when I stopped, but looked nothing like any of the videos I watched. I had also stopped at half the needed oil amount. I was worried my blender’s motor would burn out.

Today, I started on the second half of #3, now called trial #4. The slightly thickened gel had not split during those 24 hours so I decided to continue mixing and to add more oil. Was continuing to look pretty good, so I added even more oil and continued mixing. And then it happened... the gel thinned out again and the oil separated from the incorporated Sucragel. At this point, I don’t feel I can give up. This has to work... somehow...

I had read that someone suggested removing the excess oil and continuing mixing. So, I painstakingly used my pipette to remove as much of the oil floating on the top as I could. That took ages. Then, when I had separated out as much oil as I could, I used the mixer on high to try to incorporate the rest. Thankfully, the mixture thickened up again to what it looked like before I started today. I’ll let it sit for the evening and will try to pick back up after work tomorrow. I think I still see some tiny oil spots that have not fully incorporated on the surface of the gel. This could be problematic. Shall see for tomorrow.

Thank goodness I am trialing with such small amounts of relatively inexpensive ingredients (about 40 grams of oil and only 10 grams of Sucragel a trial). Otherwise, I wouldn’t be so eager to continue.
 
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AKelly75

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Worked on #4 again for more than an hour the other night. Was thrilled when it started to really become a honey consistency. Then it happened again, it separated and thinned out incredibly. I was back to square one. Up until it split, I was adding 5 drops of oil at a time. Once it really thickened, I added 3mL at a time ~10? drops). Then, I went to 5mL of oil, started stirring, and noticed the split. Although the instructions say you can increase the amount of oil once it really thickens up, apparently this is too much for the Sucragel to handle. Once again, I took out the excess/floating oil and started mixing. Unfortunately, although I did not add any oil, it never started to thicken up again. I am going to chuck this and start on batch #5 tomorrow.

Small/tiny bowl with one beater of my electric mixer. Add oil by drops and not pipette-ful. Here’s hoping...
 

HowieRoll

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I feel your pain in working with a tricky ingredient (HEC, looking at you!). Unfortunately, I've never used Sucragel, but there is a great forum called Chemists Corner that may have some useful information, in case you aren't already aware of it.

https://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/

I wish you well and admire your tenacity!
 

AKelly75

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I feel your pain in working with a tricky ingredient (HEC, looking at you!). Unfortunately, I've never used Sucragel, but there is a great forum called Chemists Corner that may have some useful information, in case you aren't already aware of it.

https://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/

I wish you well and admire your tenacity!
Thank you for this site! I explored it quite a bit today and hope to ask for assistance after learning more about what I don’t know (I don’t want to ask a question already asked).

On an aside... I almost DID IT!!! I went back to Trial #4. A lot more mixing at a higher speed. Didn’t bother adding any more oil. Just mixed it off and on, whenever I had an extra 15-30 minutes during the day (it’s Saturday and I don’t work on the weekends). Toward the late afternoon, I added 2-3 drops of oil and it held together. Tonight, I added 5 drops and mixed for 3-5 minutes after each addition. With that much mixing and so little oil, it took almost two hours, but I finally was able to incorporate all the oil and then the glycerin, preservative, and essential oils. It was thick like honey. I tried it out and when water is added to a small amount and rubbed in, it turned into a thin milky consistency and washed off easily, leaving my skin silky smooth. Put it into a small glass jar and walked away. Came back to it several minutes later and it had started to separate again.

Did I like it before it separated? Yes. Will I try it again? Heck no.
 
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HowieRoll

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Hooray - it worked! (we'll celebrate even if it was only for a little while, and call it progress. Plus, it made a nice product while it lasted - yay!)

Since you hadn't been aware of Chemists Corner before, I need to apologize for the many hours you may spend in reading it now. It's a rabbit hole, to be sure. :rolleyes: I've never posted on there, but often use it as a research site for ingredients and then end up spending a lot more time reading dozens of posts about random things, even though I may only understand half of it. I love that site.
 
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Do you have a little propeller attachment for your milk frother?? That would probably give you the best results, because it sounds like you need a little more sheer to help incorporate the oils in the sucragel.

Try starting with just the sucragel, then slowly add oils under high sheer. Fully mix the oils, adding small amounts only after the oils are fully mixed in the sucragel.

Hope this helps!!
 

AKelly75

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I have never used Suceagel, but I saw this article where the author seems to have success hand stirring. Thought you might want to take a look :)

https://www.botanicalformulations.com/blog/how-to-work-with-sucragel-oily-gels

Thank you! I did read through that article several times after my first fail, which is where I learned how minuscule of an amount of oil to add each time. I can’t help but think it’s something not quite right with either my oil combination or the Sucragel has possibly gone bad. I have since read the original author (Humblebee & Me) of that particular recipe has not experienced consistent results when making the same recipe. However, in the article you quoted, the author stated she has had success every time using her hand stirring method.

Hi!! Would you mind posting your exact formula?? Maybe the one you started with and the one that worked for you!

Oil Cleansing Gel (Humblebee & Me)

10g | 20% Sucragel (I purchased CF, made from fractionated coconut oil, though the creator of this recipe used AOF, made from sweet almond oil)

Oil phase
12.63g | 25.25% sweet almond oil
9g | 18% apricot kernel oil
8g | 16% safflower oil

Final phase
9.5g | 19% vegetable glycerine
0.225g | 0.45% orange essential oil
0.1g | 0.20% palmarosa essential oil
0.05g | 0.10% rose geranium essential oil
0.25g | 0.50% vitamin E oil
0.25g | 0.50% liquid germall plus (USA)
1/64 tsp mica, for color

I used sweet almond oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil instead of the sweet almond, apricot, and safflower oil called for. My avocado and sunflower oils were fairly new purchases and the sweet almond oil is under a year in age but stored in a cool dark location. All the oils smell good.

I used 10x orange EO as the primary scent with a drop of patchouli EO to give it some depth. Everything else was the same.

Do you have a little propeller attachment for your milk frother?? That would probably give you the best results, because it sounds like you need a little more sheer to help incorporate the oils in the sucragel.

Try starting with just the sucragel, then slowly add oils under high sheer. Fully mix the oils, adding small amounts only after the oils are fully mixed in the sucragel.

Hope this helps!!

I like that idea. I wondered with all the mixing if my attachment needed to be different. After my failures with this, I broke down and purchased a propellor attachment on Amazon that I would like to try with the drill press here at my house, which has much faster speeds than my handheld mixer (and especially the mini frother I started with). Thanks for the suggestion and explanation!

I have kept the mixture in a small glass jar for the last two weeks. It’s interesting to notice that there hasn’t been a true separation or a layer of floating oil. Instead, the pseudo mixture is a fairly thin, runny consistency.
 
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I like that idea. I wondered with all the mixing if my attachment needed to be different. After my failures with this, I broke down and purchased a propellor attachment on Amazon that I would like to try with the drill press here at my house, which has much faster speeds than my handheld mixer (and especially the mini frothed I started with). Thanks for the suggestion and explanation!

I've collected so many mixers over the years and my all time favorite for testing formulas is my handy dandy Norpro Mini Mixer!! They're super cheap on Amazon and come with the high shear attachment, 2 milk frother attachments and a few different wisk attachments!! I bought 3, one for cooking, one for formulating and a spair just in case!!!
 

AKelly75

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I've collected so many mixers over the years and my all time favorite for testing formulas is my handy dandy Norpro Mini Mixer!! They're super cheap on Amazon and come with the high shear attachment, 2 milk frother attachments and a few different wisk attachments!! I bought 3, one for cooking, one for formulating and a spair just in case!!!

Ah, yes! Now I feel like an idiot!!! I used my Norpro mini mixer, but didn’t even think to use the attachment that could “beat” the Sucragel (high sheer). Instead, I used the whip attachment as that was the miniature version of the original author’s demonstration. And, I see now that a propellor attachment is considered low sheer. Could it really be so easy as to switch to the high sheer attachment?!?!
 
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Ah, yes! Now I feel like an idiot!!! I used my Norpro mini mixer, but didn’t even think to use the attachment that could “beat” the Sucragel (high sheer). Instead, I used the whip attachment as that was the miniature version of the original author’s demonstration. And, I see now that a propellor attachment is considered low sheer. Could it really be so easy as to switch to the high sheer attachment?!?!

You'd be surprised to think it, but absolutely!! Here's what FSS says about Sucragel CF (screenshot attached!)

Most rheology modifiers need sheer to activate. Stick blenders work amazingly, but if you're working with test batches the norpro propeller blade will do the trick!!
 

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AKelly75

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You'd be surprised to think it, but absolutely!! Here's what FSS says about Sucragel CF (screenshot attached!)

Most rheology modifiers need sheer to activate. Stick blenders work amazingly, but if you're working with test batches the norpro propeller blade will do the trick!!

This is terrific! I hadn’t seen any mention of a difference between the CF and the AOF until this (other than to know one contained coconut and the other sweet almond and that the CF can be used with butters whereas the AOF would only accept veg oils). Even those bullet tips increased my knowledge on how this can go together next time. I will definitely try it out this week and get back to everyone. Thank you!
 
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I've collected so many mixers over the years and my all time favorite for testing formulas is my handy dandy Norpro Mini Mixer!! They're super cheap on Amazon and come with the high shear attachment, 2 milk frother attachments and a few different wisk attachments!! I bought 3, one for cooking, one for formulating and a spair just in case!!!

I bought one of those too and maybe I got a bad one? It has a really hard time with anything more then a bit of water and color. So yesterday, I attached a drill bit to it and now use a drill to get it work on thicker items.
 

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I have several Norpro blenders and they vary in how well they work. I have two that work like a beast and 3 that are weaker, don't have the same oomph as the other two. I use one for protein powder mixing and one for B&B & Soap of the strong ones.
 
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I bought one of those too and maybe I got a bad one? It has a really hard time with anything more then a bit of water and color. So yesterday, I attached a drill bit to it and now use a drill to get it work on thicker items.
I love that idea!! You'll get some amazing shear with a drill! I've gone through quite a few mini mixers too. Some are lemons, some work amazingly, same as you!!
 

crecardo

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I love that idea!! You'll get some amazing shear with a drill! I've gone through quite a few mini mixers too. Some are lemons, some work amazingly, same as you!!
Dear Amy, I don't usually reply to these sorts of things, but as I am working from home, having been banished from the lab at the moment due to Covid-19, I thought I would answer you as you have obviously persevered with this. I am the inventor of Sucragel which I developed 10 years ago while working for Alfa Chemicals in the UK. Many years later (another story) we set up our own company to sell this ingredient and others, Alchemy Ingredients. Our website has alot of good information on. Originally I developed this product to help people like you. The best machine to use to make Sucragel gels at home is a standard electric hand whisk type beater (not the balloon type whisks, the more robust type that you might make a cake with). I picked one up for about £5 in the supermarket so hopefully not high cost. You need to add the oil in portions, very small portions to start with until the first quarter of oil has been added, then you can go quicker. So add a bit of oil, beat it in, and so on until all the oil is in and the mixture is thick. Use 1 part Sucragel to 4 parts oil. Really, you need to use another ingredient to make this stable above 40 deg C, but you might not care about that. The gel you make should be fine for at least 1 year, and you don't need preservatives.
Happy Formulating. Caroline Recardo, Alchemy Ingredients
 

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