emulsifiers

Organic Beeswax

This has to be one of my favourite ingredients as is brings a beautiful sweet aroma and rich colour to a whole range of skin care products. I love it in organic lip balms, fragrance-free or naturally perfumed nourishing creams and soothing balms.   It is common to see people make reference to beeswax as a natural emulsifier and while that is true it isn’t totally accurate. If you want to make an emulsion using beeswax as the main oil-water binder you need something else called borax (sodium borate) as it is the reaction between these two chemicals that enable an old-fashioned cold-cream to be made. Basically the beeswax and the borax undergo a saponification reaction (rather like making soap) and the resulting chemical has both oil and water-loving properties (a surfactant is created). This can then hold a simple cream together!

Why not try a little beeswax in your next cream or lip product – you don’t need too much as it can lead to your product feel like it is dragging on the skin, 1-8% should cover almost everything!

We get our Organic Beeswax from  New Directions Australia.

The ABC of HLB – A guide to cream making.

If you are making creams there are three little words that you should know: H = Hydrophile, L = Lipophile and B = Balance. Anyone who has tried to wash a greasy pan without using detergent will know that oil and water don’t mix in fact they detest each other so much that they usually require chemical mediation. You may beg to differ and tell me that it is perfectly possible to get oil and water to mix and you would be right for a while but it doesn’t take long before they go their separate ways and spelling devastation for your formula.  

Without going into a detailed chemistry lesson water likes to bond with water and oils like to bond with other oils due to special internal forces. The strong bonds that exist within each separate phase can be broken if you put some energy into the system (for example by homogenizing or stirring at high speed for a while) but when you stop stirring the little balls of oil and water soon start to coalesce and grow and before too long you have your two phases again. This can be slowed down physically by adding something that acts as a barrier – a thickener or suspending agent may do this job nicely and may result in a product that is stable for months or more but this only tends to work where the difference between the phases is very large – say 95% water, 5% oil. So, what most people do is opt for an emulsifier and this is where chemical mediation comes in.

There are lots of different emulsifiers but the general principal remains the same. They have one end that likes water […]