“I want to make XYZ product, but I want a good recipe because I don’t want to waste ingredients.”
“What is the right wick for this container and this wax? I only make batches of 80 and don’t have time to test.”
How many makers welcome the hours and hours and money spent on ingredients to get just the right product? Not many. Does any candlemaker want to take the time and wax, fragrance, wicks and color to test candles? Probably not! Yet, testing is unavoidable. Take the time to create a product you are proud of and can stand behind.
Yes, testing is necessary, but get smart about the testing to reduce the time and resources necessary to create that ideal product. Follow these four tips to do it better.
- Research. Go ahead. Give Google or your favorite search engine a workout. Certainly, choose reliable sites for information, not just the first link that catches your eye. Also, ask those with respected reputations for advice. This alone will save a great deal of time and materials.
2. Keep copious notes. If you are not a note keeper by personality, it is a valuable skill to develop. Here is a formulator’s notebook to help get started and in the habit. Always note information such as:
- Product and final goal
- Ingredients and sources
- Procedure – be specific and number steps
- Outcome – Observe the color, scent, feel, any other factors that make the product what it is. Be honest. How does it match up to the goal?
- Time – How does the product do over time? How much curing did it take, if any? Does the appearance, scent or performance change?
- Changes – What changes would you like to make? What ideas do you have to improve the formula?
3. Test Batches – Make small test batches. It seems obvious, but makers often overlook this simple tip. Why make a gallon of lotion? Make one pound instead. Make one lotion bar. Cut all formulas down to the smallest amount that makes sense.
4. Test Scents – To test scents in product, make a larger batch and separate smaller parts off by weight. Add scent and package. This works to test multiple scents and their effects on the product. It also works to test the intensity.
If the lack of a scale for tiny amounts is an obstacle, jeweler’s scales work well and need not be expensive.
5. Streamline – Plan ahead and streamline the testing session. Rid the workspace of unnecessary objects and ready the ingredients and equipment you intend to use. Walk mentally through the process to make sure everything is ready to move without interruption.
Testing is imperative to a great product line. The process takes time, attention and ingredients, but make it less time consuming and less of an ingredient drain. Plan the process, streamline the workspace, keep notes, make tiny batches and make it as instructive as possible.
What time and supply saving tactics do you use? Share your tips!
May all you days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine