The nitty gritty and other words ending in 'y'.
Updated: Jun 1
Right. You read the last blog post and found yourself on a road. It might be murky, rocky, blurry or even missing, but welcome to the next step.
I am going to list the most basic of production requirements, the fancy stuff will follow another day when you accept the commitment of lifelong expense. This list will see you happily through my first few recipes, even if we falter there are always substitutions to be made and a plan B isn't always a bad thing. Remember, a dropped Pavlova becomes an Eton Mess.
PROTECTED HEAT SOURCE
Gas or electric doesn't matter, as long as you are working out of the way of an open door or window. Not only do you not want your flame to go out, but you want to keep your product free from as many airborne particles and cat hairs as possible. For a real life analysis, walk through the room with a freshly unrolled strip of lint paper, and see what it looks like after a few manic air stabs. If it is unblemished please may I live with you? It is not possible for everyone to have a still room, however getting into the habit early on of environmental awareness will help you in creating professional (and more hygienic) products sooner. (A still room (or stillroom) is a creative place, a spot where herbs and such are mixed into lotions and potions and other healing elixirs.)
2. CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS (OR WHOEVER YOU BELIEVE IN)
Don't ever be lazy when it comes to this step. Like ever. You have no idea of the goggas lurking on that clean looking bowl, or shiny measuring spoon. I will reiterate this step in every recipe, plan ahead and get all your equipment ready, then sterilise it into the afterlife. It is crucial. There are many methods and ideas around the best way to do this. I always do things as though loadshedding is about to hit. The minimalist but effective method. I buy 99.9% ethanol in 5L bottles, decant some into a spray bottle and use that to disinfect my surfaces, tools and containers. Detailed info to follow.
Sharing your food prep equipment with your new side hustle is not a big deal, as long as you stop if you start making products to sell. Then you need to pretend that you never read the previous sentence. You will need :
- A pot and glass bowl so that you can create a double boiler, the bowl should sit comfortably near the top of the pot. If the bowl is too small it will sink in and risk getting contaminated with over excited boiling water .
- Two spatulas. Ideally they should be of a solid design, no moving parts or removable heads. This decreases the amount of places that bacteria can hide in. You can of course also use a sturdy plastic spoon, or whatever you have available. No metal please, it's just too reactive. Like your neighbours giant Schnauzer.
- Digital scale. The one thing you have to buy. Have a look on Takealot or in kitchen shops . Mine carries a maximum weight of 2kg.
- A utensil to scoop solid ingredients up with. I bought a set of plastic clay sculpting tools from PNA. Really useful for digging out chunks of Shea butter. As long as your scooper upper is sterilised, it's all good.
- Containers. Glass or plastic or whatever you can find. Your old Zambuk tin will work beautifully. Westpak is brilliant for a beginner stash, and you can buy in small quantities.
- Spray bottle for your ethanol. You could also boil your glass containers and stick the rest in a Miltons solution if you don't want to buy your 99.9% denatured alcohol.
- Kitchen paper towel. Single handedly, the thing I use the most of. Be careful of buying the cheapest ones you can find, they often leave a fluffy residue behind. Don't substitute this with anything else. It's cheap, hygienic and makes cleaning up greasy, waxy bowls not the absolute worst job on the planet.
4. PPE/SAFETY FIRST
Please look after yourself and look after others. Wear an apron so that you don't sue me for staining your tie dye silk rokkie, but also so that if you spill something thats just melted for an hour, you won't get hurt. If you have crazy hair that sheds when the wind blows, please use a hair net. If you are going to be using any kind of powder or micro particle, invest in a face mask. Can't stop touching yourself? Please buy a box of nitrile gloves from Dischem. Cheap as chips and will keep your product clean and most importantly, safe to use.
Dishwashing liquid. New sponge for washing up, and to keep separately for the exclusive use and benefit of your burgeoning lotion empire. New dish towel, for the exact same reason.
I'm assuming you're just a regular human in the 'burbs, and are looking for stuff somewhere close and convenient. I find a lot of basic stuff in Dischem, sometimes in Clicks and if you are lucky enough to live near a Weleda pharmacy, you will find most things. You will also sometimes find a surprisingly grand range of carrier oils in supermarkets. Gems like - olive, coconut, grapeseed, sunflower, avocado, sweet almond, hempseed. If you don't want to leave your front door, then try The Soap Barn (www.thesoapbarn.co.za) or Escentia (www.essential-oils.co.za) . There are many more suppliers, but let's keep it plain and simple for now.