How to Work with Sucragel - Oily Gels
The Sucragel range of liquid emulsifiers is a group of products that allow you to make many different cosmetic products at room temperature; from oil in water emulsion, to oily gels. I would say they are first and foremost an oil thickener and are an easy option for making rinse off oily gels. These gels make for a luxurious product for cleansing as they have high viscosity but turn from oil into milk when rinsed with water.
Although you can make the products at room temperature, you can also heat it to 80c which means you can melt any kind of butters or waxes and include them. Adding waxes or butters will not change the viscosity of the finished product, which is an interesting feature of this emulsifier. The different Sucragels are given in the following chart.
As you can see, they are all natural so you can have a 100% natural product with Sucragel. The use rate of them is the same except the AP V2 which can be used at between 10-15%. Sucragel AOF Bio is over 90% organic.
I would say that probably the biggest challenge when working with Sucragel is when it comes to making small sample batches. The manufacturer gives detailed advice on how to make oily gels using an overhead stirrer which is great if you have one. But if you are just starting out with formulating, you may not have an overhead stirrer and a good one is pretty costly; I can't think of a cheap substitute for a propeller mixer, that allows for you to have your hands free to pour your oil phase ,whilst stirring. Also, when using an overhead stirrer you need to make larger batches, which can be a problem if you have limited raw materials.
So, how do you make small batches of Sucragel by hand?
Luckily, there is a way to make small batches without any machinery and I have managed to make 100g amounts that have been perfectly stable. At this point, I want to give kudos to Duncan who suggested hand stirring using a spatula. The first time I tried it I was a excitable; I didn't take my time and added too much oil which didn't work. When I attempted it again, I paced myself, and added the oils to the Sucragel slowly, a drop at a time, stirring well in-between drops. This worked well. Since then, I have made many oily gels in the same way, and have always been successful.
The example I am showing you is with Sucragel AP V2. You will see that I used only 15% and the remainder 85% is liquid oils.
It doesn't matter what Sucragel you use, they all require the same technique and I have made gels with Sucragel AOF/AOF Bio and Sucragel XL in exactly the same way. The only difference is that your ratios of Sucragel to oil will be different. With the other Sucragels, you would need to use a ratio of between 25/75 to 20/80 Sucragel to oil.
Adding Other Ingredients
It is advisable to add an antioxidant to extend the shelf life of your oils. Add this to your oil phase. If you want to add fragrance, add them to the oil phase too. If you have any solid matter i.e. exfoliants, powders, it is better to add them when you have finished making the gel as you want them to be suspended.
Adding High Levels of Butter and Wax
So far, I have successfully added a small amount (up to 15%) of butters to my oil phase and still cold processed Sucragel. When doing this I melted them down with the oils. This can work well, but it depends on the butters you use and the overall gelling point of the oil phase. If you use a lot of hard butters, and your gelling point is high, you may need to melt them down with the oils and also heat the Sucragel to the same level. If you are hot processing your Sucragel then add your fragrance/essential oils when the gel is made and is cool (40c or under.)
How to Make Your Oil-Gel
Simple Fragrant Oleogel
|SIMPLE FRAGRANT OLEOGEL|
|Sucragel AP V2||Glycerin, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate||15.00||15.00|
|Grapeseed Oil||Vitus vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil||50.00||50.00|
|Plum Kernel Oil||Prunus Domestica Seed Oil||35.00||35.00|
Shake the Sucragel in its container and weigh the desired amount into your beaker.
Weigh your oils into another beaker and set aside. If you are using some butters you can melt them with the oils. Depending on the amount of butter, you may need to melt them with the oils and bring Sucragel to the same temperature, but this is not always necessary.
Drop a small amount of oil into the Sucragel and mix well, no more than a drop or two at a time.
As the viscosity increases, you can add up to 5g gradually, very gradually.
It is a long process, however, it is better to add a small amount every time rather than rushing it. Although I have generally done this by eye, for the purpose of this tutorial, I weight what I did on a few occasions and can say I added anywhere near 1.5 and 2.5 grams at a time, gradually increasing to about 5g toward the end.
But if you are just starting to use this emulsifier, I would stick to just including 1.5-2.5g. You will get good results this way. As you become used to the material you will get a feel for when you can increase the amount of oil you add.
It is very important to stir well with each inclusion of oil and you will notice that as you go it thickens more and more until it reaches its final viscosity.
To start, I would suggest you use just one oil. Don't bother with using anything else, as when you make your first batch you are just getting an idea about how to process it correctly.
As you can see, it is quite easy to make an oily gel by hand with Sucragel, you just need the right technique and patience. In the next few weeks I will show you how to make some very colourful and 100% natural cleansers, scrubs and masks so stay tuned!