Lecithin as an emulsifier – part I, how to dissolve lecithin granules
I have been still searching for a 100% in nature occurring emulsifier for home made cosmetics.
If you read a bit online, you know there are three candidates:
- borax – sodium tetraborate Na2B4O7, not boric acid!
Borax is a mineral and it was shown that it can have carcinogenic effects, so it is out of question for me.
The problem is, that all these recipes call for combination of lecithin and borax or beeswax and borax…
…and that beeswax or lecithin alone are unable to emulsify or create stable emulsions.
This is however disputable, there are people swearing that they can emulsify with beeswax or lecithin only, but I didn’t find any real guidelines or experiment showing how much of both gives what result in what kind of emulsion (does it work in W/O, or only O/W emulsions?, what ratio…?)
In general, using beeswax alone works mainly for water in oil emulsions, creating very rich and oil creams – the protective type. To this category belongs the so called cold cream which is done using beeswax only.
Lecithin has some nice characteristics – it is easily absorbed into the skin, being thus a perfect carrier for any actives you want to deliver. Moreover, you can eat it and that is what makes it an ideal candidate!
I did some experiments with lecithin and some of these went wrong. However, I am still searching and looking for ideal ratios, experimenting at home. As soon as I have results I will share them!
I believe you know that lecithin is found in egg yolks – that is why it is used for making mayonnaise – it acts as an emulsifier. Well, however, yolk in my face cream does not please me, so I refused this idea immediately.
Luckily, lecithin can be extracted from plants, for example, soya beans. Such a lecithin can be found in drug stores or natural product stores. It is sold either as a liquid, or a cheaper and easier to find granules.
So I bought the granules…
I would never think it can be such an issue to dissolve them… but it was! And here I give you the description of my three trials, the last one finally led to success….
How (not) to dissolve lecithin granules – part I – In water (and oil) by stirring
My first lecithin adventure was a disaster, because of – as usual – lack of information in the recipe I followed.
The statement was: dissolve granules in water, stirring will help. That was all.
So I put the granules in water and stirred well. Nothing. Granules didn’t dissolve…. after 10 minutes of stirring I took my cappuccino mixer I use for my creams. Nothing… granules were dissolving too slowly. After 10 minutes of mixing with cappuccino mixer, I had to replace batteries. The speed of dissolving was so slow I started to be really nervous. So I told myself that maybe the recipe was wrong and I should have dissolved them in oil. I added to my water the oil from the recipe and mixed…. mixed bout 30 minutes, changing batteries twice.
Finally it seemed that everything dissolved, but the result was a very liquid and sticky kind of milk that was not worth the effort at all. That was the end of my friendship with lecithin… at least for a while.
How not to dissolve lecithin granules – part II – in oil
A week later I told myself that it was certainly my fault and I should have let granules sit in the oil to dissolve on their own. Of course, it was logical, the liquid lecithin you buy has about 60% of oils. That must be it, there was a mistake in the recipe and the lecithin should be dissolved in the oil! I was not really keen on stirring it so I just left the lecithin granules in the oil for a while. After a week (OK, I forgot them) I went back to granules and…They did not dissolve! It took me several months to come back to lecithin….
How to dissolve lecithin granules – part III – in water, HEUREKA!
And then I found it… a recipe, similar to the first one… with one sentence that changed everything: Let the granules soak in the water phase of your recipe for an hour.
(By water phase I mean the watery part of your recipe, it can be water, it can be flower water, it can be herbal infusion…)
And that WORKED!
Here is what I did:
1) I put the granules in the water phase of the recipe and let 1 hour to dissolve. (here 20g of the granules and 40g of the distilled water).
2) After 1 hour the granules are dissolved
3) When you mix it after, it looks like this (without oils) – please, note, that you do not have to mix it prior to adding oils, if you are making a cream or a lotion.
Heureka, it worked… This will be my basic lecithin I am going to use in my experiments. I will try different ratios of oils, water and lecithin and will make a summary!
Here are my recipes made with beeswax and lecithing as the only emulsifiers :