Microbial enumeration test at home

Hi everyone, 

I've commented on a couple threads in this forum already. But hadn't introduced myself properly. I have a background in biochemistry with 3 years of undergraduate research in a microbiology lab. I did a minor in Computer Science and currently working as a Software Engineer.

For a while I had been searching for a hobby that I could eventually turn into a side business, and that would make use of my science background. I always had an interest in cosmetics, so I recently started formulating and learning as I go. Thanks for this forum, it has been a great read.

Now the real questions. I want to test my formulations as economically as possible for basic safety and stability. I found on amazon incubators with a claimed accuracy of +- 0.5°C that goes from +2C to +65C for just $180 (used for reptile eggs incubation), and can get ahold of pre-poured Tryptic Soy Agar dishes on Amazon or could even buy a $150 autoclave (pressure-cooker style) to pour my own plates in the future, wouldn't need to make more than 200mL batches every now and then probably, and could still use it to sterilize my equipment.

  1. Is Tryptic Soy Agar a good medium for a basic microbial enumeration test?
  2. Would doing the microbial enumeration at 0, 12, 24.. days of incubating my formula at 30°C  be a good initial indicator of preservative efficacy (and stability) testing (along with freeze and thaw cycles).
  3. Would the waste be consider hazardous and would this operation be "illegal" in the US? I'm not using recombinant bacteria, and neither am I inoculating my samples with specific pathogens. My guess is no, as my fridge is probably 10 or 100x worse when I forget about a container of home-made food for several months and just throw it down the drain.

My goal is not to sell my products to the public, but to have my family and close friends test my formulations until I have a line of products that I would then have professionally tested with a lab before going to market!

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