Thursday, 31 March 2011

Aloe Vera Cream & Suppliers’ Differences

I have been meaning for a while to post about how I use Aloe Vera in my products. I make an Aloe Vera soap with 100% of the liquid being Aloe Vera gel from the plants in my garden. Recently I also tried using the Aloe Vera gel from my garden in my moisturizing hand and body cream. I scented it with Spearmint and Lavender Essential Oils. I have posted about Grandma Aloe Vera before but here she is again, and she is just about to blossom!!! Grandma Aloe Vera was the very first Aloe Vera plant I had here. She was given to me as a cut off/shoot off from another plant about 5 years ago and was quite small at that point. Now, as a size reference for you, the top of the tallest stalk in the phot comes up to my nose!! I call her grandma because she has offered a lot of shoot-offs which I have re-planted and now the shoot-offs offer shoot-offs. She may be a great-grandma soon! Take a look in the photo at the two stalk-like things. Excuse the lack of proper terminology but most of what I know has been passed on to me by people in the area, rather than from books. If I understand correctly, in order for the Aloe Vera plant to be good for the skin or for our bodies (yes, people drink it too!) the plant needs to be a few years old. Apparently, as soon as it begins to sprout these stalk-like things which eventually blossom into small red flowers, then it is good for the skin. Here are some of Grandma’s new shoot-offs. I will take these out and re-plant them. I have about 25 Aloe Vera plants now and 7 of them have produced the stalks this spring. Here are some of the other plants, Grandma’s first shoot-offs which are now offering stalks. First Step – I cut off some of the bottom branches/ arms, which look nice and full of gel. Next Step – I cut off the prickly edges. Next Step – After cleaning it off well with water, I cut it open. Next Step – I cut/ scrape out the gel. Warning!!! Aloe Vera gel is gucky, gooey and stinky!!

Next Step – I put it all in a mixing bowl and blend with my hand mixer.


I blend for quite a while, making sure that all the lumps are smoothed out. It can get frothy.

This time I substituted ½ of the water for Aloe Vera Gel in my moisturizing cream and it is really special. It has a very unique texture, almost slippery but cooling and pretty nice.

I want to try a soap one of these days with not only the Aloe Vera gel, but the skins blended in as well. Will post when I do.

SUPPLIER ISSUE – I recently received an order of beeswax from a different supplier than usual. Both of the products I have made with the new beeswax (a Cream and a Salve) have turned out much harder than previously, using the very same recipe.

So, my conclusion is that the hardness of beeswax varies from supplier to supplier. This Aloe Vera cream for example was thick when I scooped it into the pots, but then it almost hardened into Butter!! So, I re-mixed, adding in more liquid and it turned out nicer.

Basically I think changing suppliers can drastically change the recipe and result. I have found this with Essential Oils as well. Quality and strength varies drastically from supplier to supplier.

Questions for you:

Have you had similar issues?

Can you add any experiences or knowledge about Aloe Vera?

Happy Soaping!!

xo Jen

14 comments:

Teresa said...

Great post, Jen.
I do not use aloe vera in my soap, so I cannot comment about the issues.
I love this post though and all the pictures!
Angelic Hugs,
Teresa

heirloomsoapworks.com said...

What a great post Jen! So very interesting, and I'm glad you referenced how big "Grandma" is - "Grandma, what big stalks you have!" LOL! That is one gigantic plant!
You take such great pains to make your soaps and creams unique and premium quality -thanks for inspiring us all. :) xo ~Becky

Oh, I wanted to ask you what you use to preserve your creams...if you don't mind sharing?

Splurge Sisters said...

Your butters look divine and I wish I could reach into my screen and try some :)

I've used aloe vera liquid in a soap before and it turned out great.

I find anytime you are working with beeswax you have to always add more oil then what is called for. I've had an issue with FO's, M&P and butters being very different from each supplier. It can be very frustrating.

Way back I used only refined shea butter and remember only having to temper it once as I never had grainy problems. Then I switched to unrefined and loved it and never had to temper. Recently I got refined shea again and had to temper it to get rid of the graininess.

Ambra said...

How wonderful too have such large plants! I have used aloe that I bought from health food stores in my creams as 50% of the water phase. I love it. I got a very lovely and mild peppermint EO the first time, but I haven't found it again. Such a shame. Great post and thanks for sharing :)

Jabonera said...

Jen me encnata el aloe vera, hice uno o dos jabones que llevaban gel que agregue a la traza y liquido que lo combiné con el agua al añadir la sosa y me ha gustado el jabón.
En cuanto a los proveedores yo casi siempre compro a la misma persona así que no puedo opinar al respecto, pero puede ser cierto lo que dices. Besos y feliz fin de semana. Ana.

Splurge Sisters said...

Jen,

You are using the exact containers I have but I was told they could not handle any product with water in them. So I only use them for salves or salts . I was told they may rust with water products in them. Have you had any problems?

Jennifer Young said...

Teresa, Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Becky, Glad you liked the pictures of Granny and babes. As for preserving my creams, I don't. If people wish to put them in the fridge they can. Strangely enough, I have had creams last for well over a year without preservatives. I am leaning toward focussing on Salves, which sell even better and don't need preservatives. Do you make creams?

Splurge - Thank you for sharing your experiences. I work with unrefined Shea Butter so I don't have the grainy problem others do. Thanks for the tip about Beeswax. As for the containers, these one are aluminium and recommended for creams and salves. I got them from the Soap Kitchen. They have other metal containers not recommended for products with water. I have had no probs with these!

Ambra - You are very welcome!

Jabonera - Gracias!!

xoxo Jen

Amy Warden said...

Oh, yes, I've definitely had issues with "the same" ingredient from different suppliers. I've even had issues with different batches of shea butter from the same supplier!

I don't have any experience using aloe in soaps, but I do use a large portion of the juice in my Jojoba-Shea Lotion.

Tierra Verde Handmade Soap said...

My little aloe just wishes it could be that big -unfortunately I have a brownish thumb.A friend gave me a very, very sick aloe that I patiently nursed back to health(it was even having all sorts of babies - all was well until I brought it in over the winter and over watered.:(() That is a ginormous aloe.

maty said...

hola me encanta tu blog ... tus jabones se ven muy naturales y tienen que oler uhhhhhmmm muy rico,
yo cuando hago gel de aloe vera para añadir a los jabones le pongo acido citrico para romper las paredes fibrosas de la pulpa, lo bato y lo dejo 24 horas en el frigo, asi obtengo un liquido suave y transparente!!!.... saludos

Savon Muse said...

Thanks so much for sharing your process Jen. I have found this post absolutely brilliant! I have a huge aloe vera plant that we inherited with the house when we bought it about 19 years ago. I've used the gel on burns before but now I now exactly what to do with it! I'm going to get cultivating asap!

Thus far in my soaping experience I've only used FOs and synthethic colourants. Your work is so inspiring that I'm now really keen to have a go at using natural, botanical colourants. Thanks so much for the ongoing inspiration! Cheers, Pauline :)

Jennifer Young said...

Hi Pauline, So glad you liked this post. Look forward to a post of yours about something you make with Aloe Vera!! xoxo Jen

Savon Muse said...

Hi Jen! One question I forgot to ask in my comment...is it possible to store the aloe gel after you have blended (eg in the fridge?) or do you need to use it straight away? Would it go off if stored for any length of time? I was wondering if this is something you could prepare ahead of time ready for a future soaping session, or is it a 'do the same day' sort of thing? Thanks again for all the info you share...much appreciated.

Jennifer Young said...

Pauline, if you cut a branch of an Aloe Vera plant, you can store it for quite a while in your fridge and it it still good, so I believe the juice is still good if you prepare it in advance. How long can you store it? Not sure. One more thing. If you see bright yellow goo on it, make sure you get rid of that yellow stuff. It is not good and can cause reactions. Good luck!! xo Jen