About a year ago we improved our lotion-making process. I haven’t written about it yet, so I thought I’d share a little bit about it. When I took over the production of Lotion Sticks, I realized that our process was sometimes leading to inconsistent Lotion Sticks. If you’ve ever had a lotion stick feel grainy after a while, you know what I’m talking about.
You see, the main ingredient in our Lotion Stick is Shea Butter. Shea Butter is great for your skin, but it’s kind of a hassle to work with. It is really fussy about how it heats up and cools down, and if you don’t heat and cool it properly, it can become grainy or sandy in texture. It still has all the great properties of Shea Butter, but it just doesn’t feel good to put on your skin.
When I took over making Lotion Sticks, the process involved measuring all of the oils into a stainless steel pitcher, heating it over the stove and pouring the mixture into the lotion tubes. The problem with this is that as your are filling tubes up, the mixture in your pitcher cools down. Which means you have to constantly re-heat the mixture to keep it from solidifying in the pitcher. This causes the temperature of the mixture to go up and down over and over again throughout the process. The Shea Butter just doesn’t react well to this.
So, what did we do? Well Dean & I looked at all kinds of heating solutions. We needed something that would keep the oils a consistent temperature, and we wanted it to be spigoted so that we could attach a hose for filling the tubes. We found a lot of great products, but none of them were exactly what we needed and most of them involved very expensive water-jacket systems that we just didn’t need.
The best solution for us ended up being a modified deep fryer. We bought a deep fryer with a Teflon coating on the inside, and modified it so that a spigot protruded near the bottom. We then screwed it into a wood platform so that the whole unit would fit nicely on the scale.
So here is the new process:
The first thing I do is put the whole unit on the scale and measure out my all-natural oils according to our propriety recipe full of nature’s goodies, developed by Maryclaire. Then I plug in the deep fryer and set the temperature to about 190 degrees. It doesn’t actually need to be this hot to melt, but it does need to be this hot in order for the Shea Butter to feel smooth after it cools.
While that is melting, I set out all of my lotion tubes.
Once the oils melt I put the whole unit up on a shelf inside a special stand that holds it securely in place and holds it at an angle so that we don’t waste any oil. Just like this:
Then I can attach the filling hose to the quick connect.
Then it’s time to start filling tubes.
Here is a shot of them cooling down.
Here you can see the edges of the lotion have started to solidify.
The great thing about this process is that it keeps the mixture a consistent temperature, and once its in the tubes it can cool as quickly as possible. This is crucial to getting the Shea Butter to feel smooth when you apply the lotion. Another plus is that I can make about four times as many lotion sticks in the same amount of time as the old process.