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Tips On Using Emulsifying Powder

Making creams can take a bit of getting use to.  Once you get the knack, it is really straight forward.  I have posted several recipes on the site and a tutorial.  I generally use around 5% (although I have used 12% before) in the oil phase but it is the cetyl alcohol that will contribute to thickness, aids stability and provides a conditioning element. 

The emulsifying powder is a basic self-emulsifying ingredient - by 'basic' I mean it is a PEG free ingredient that is widely used throughout the cosmetic and food industries for its emulsifying-only function.

Regarding its use, I can give you a run down of what I do :o)

- melt all the oils, butters, e powder, cetyl alcohol in a double boiler, in the meantime, while they are melting I prepare another double boiler (bowl over a saucepan is fine) by simply warming the water bowl over the boiling water

- When all the oils/butter/ewax etc... have melted (with a little gentle stirring here and there) & are at about 70 degrees, I add the water phase ingredients (that are not heat sensitive) EXCEPT the water/hydrolat to the water bowl to warm.  I then boil the water seperately in either a seperate kettle/saucepan and only when boiling do I add that to the heated water phase double boiler.  This ensures the water is as hot as it can be and because the bowl has been warmed, cooling of the water is minimised.  In all this time, the oil phase is still over the heat.

- Then I immediately put my stick blender in the water phase and add the hot oil phase in a thin steady stream to the water phase (not the other way around).  The water phase is still over heat.

- I continue to stir the mix, over heat for 3-5 mins.  I have found though that by using the stick blender for only 30 seconds to a minute then switching to a balloon whisk and continue gently stirring (not vigorously) helps to reduce air bubbles significantly and results in a heavier, smoother cream.  It takes a bit longer but is worth it.

- After 3-5 mins (I prefer 5 mins) stirring over the heat, I transfer to the cold bath and continue to stir gently with a balloon whisk until a nice cream has developed. 

  • Temperature is crucial to the success of the cream as is the stirring process.
  • I nearly always use cetyl alcohol in conjunction with the emulsifying powder
  • Adding the oil to the water phase is rather important and ensuring that no ingredient cools before it has a chance to successfully combine with other molecules
  • I always try to make sure the water is hotter than the oil phase when combining
  • The ingredients will have different melting points and by continuing the heat while combining ensures that nothing begins to solidify or change chemically before the emulsion is created evenly

Further Information!

 Here is a link to a tutorial I added to the main site:

Here is a recipe which is in the main recipes (there are more) but it has mixed measurements so I would convert like for like to grams:

If you are registered to the forum, here is a link to some tips on recuding bubbles and creating a richer cream:

The emulsifying powder is a more natural emulsifyier (widely used in both cosmetics and food) and once you get the technique it is really easy to use.  The more cetyl you use, the thicker the cream (but thickness increases over a few days so don't make a judgement on consistency immediately).  Cetyl is important for stability though and I generally use 50-75% of the total emulsifying powder.

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