Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Why did acacia gum turn my flax seed gel grey?

  • Why did acacia gum turn my flax seed gel grey?

    Posted by Farah on July 15, 2022 at 3:33 am

    Formula:

    98.4% flax seed gel made by hydrating flax seeds with distilled water, bringing to a boil and straining after the seeds release their mucilage 
    0.5% Xanthan gum 
    0.5% Guar gum (INCI Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba gum)
    0.5% liquid Germall plus (INCI Propylene Glycol & Diazolidinyl Urea & Iodopropynyl Butylcarbonate)
    0.1% Acacia Senegal gum

    Process: 

    In a double boiler, added the gums to the strained flax seed gel and mixed with a hand held blender (whisk attachment) until dissolved. Took the bowl I was mixing everything in on and off the heat intermittently as I was blending because it was more comfortable to work on the counter (lots of elbow grease but I can’t immersion blend without introducing way too many bubbles to the gel and then I have to deal with that). I added the acacia gum last and the gel turned grey. I didn’t note the temperature the gel reached in the double boiler. 

    The preservative was added in the end after the gel cooled below 50C. This didn’t change the color of the gel. 

    Any idea why this happened? I found exactly one other person on the internet who had this same problem but he was dissolving the acacia in water that wasn’t distilled. When I added the acacia gum to just distilled water I got a crystal clear solution. I heated the solution in the same double boiler… no change. I haven’t tried adding it to each of the flax seed gel alone, xanthan gel alone or guar gel alone but if I don’t find an answer here I think I’ll investigate that next. 
    Thank you! 

    Anca_Formulator replied 1 year, 10 months ago 6 Members · 27 Replies
  • 27 Replies
  • OldPerry

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    Was it grey before the acacia gum was added? 
    Would it have gotten grey if you just left the acacia gum out? That’s what you would need to test. It sounds like there could be some reaction with some component of your flax seeds and the acacia gel.

  • Fekher

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    @Farah it seems reaction between acacia gum and other ingredient,the question for you why using three gums? I never see such conception and i can’t see any logic justification. 

  • Farah

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    @Perry I’ve made it without acacia gum countless times. No color problems… I think it’s some component of the flax seeds as you say! If it was the xanthan or guar there would surely be something in literature.

    @@Fekher - us curly haired people are weird and finicky about what each thickener brings to the final product. Xanthan alone is too stringy (not enough “clumping”) and too much of it is problematic with cationic conditioners used in most leave in conditioners. Guar alone is too rigid but it gives me better clumps. Acacia too crunchy but brings good hold to the table. Xanthan and guar complement each other when it comes to increasing viscosity. I’m trialing acacia to see if I get longer lasting hold with it.

    I’m not super fussed with “natural”. I’m trying to see how far I can get with natural thickeners because I like how they feel in my hair and they make for a very simple care routine that doesn’t require harsh surfactants to avoid build up. I understand they perform poorly in shampoos and conditioners but lots of curly haired people love them in styling products. 
    Thank you both! 
  • Fekher

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    @Farah I get your justification for using three gums, just you have not  any cationic ingredient in your formulation so in this case there is no problem in  increasing the level of xanthan gum. 

  • Farah

    Member
    July 16, 2022 at 12:27 am

    @Fekher I layer it over leave in conditioner that does have cationic ingredients. I’m not entirely sure if it’s in my head, but I feel like too much of it doesn’t play well with such leave ins. My hair has felt more tacky in such instances. But with curly hair there’s so many variables so this is very anecdotal and not the result of a controlled experiment. Would love to hear your insight… do you think it would matter much with products that are applied to hair in sequence and left in it? Some people also like to mix the leave in and gel in their palm before application. This may be a good experiment for me to try and see at what % xanthan may cause a problem. 

  • Abdullah

    Member
    July 16, 2022 at 5:11 am

    In my experience xanthan gum/guar gum 2/8 provide maximum viscosity.

    Why don’t you use a conditioner in your hair? 
    Or whay don’t you use HEC in this product? 
    HEC feels much better than xanthan or guar gum in hair.

  • Fekher

    Member
    July 16, 2022 at 10:51 am

    @Farah the best thing to be sure make the experience, I feel curious to know what it gives higher level of xanthan gum with your conditionner ????. The input of @Abdullah seems pretty good I thought about it before just I ignored  having in my reflex that is not natural.

  • Farah

    Member
    July 16, 2022 at 6:21 pm

    @Abdullah I’ve been meaning to try the 2/8 ratio instead of 5/5. I will soon. I was just worried about losing the flexibility that way. But perhaps I can bring down the total %ages. 

    I’ve used HEC in the past… like 10 years ago? I used it alone and it didn’t give much hold at all. Perhaps it’s time to experiment with it again. I like that it’s nonionic. 
    I do use conditioner in my hair. This formula will form the base of a last step styling product for hold, definition and frizz control. 
    @Fekher I will try some more controlled tests on my hair and report back! Thank you! I understand the natural instinct with current trends. I’m more invested in breaking out of the cycle of dependency on products that build up then require harsh surfactants which really ruins the condition of curly hair. To me good results trump being able to say all natural any day. And anyway, there’s no way to preserve something like flax seed gel “naturally” and have it pass challenge tests and be safe. If there is, I don’t know about it. Infections are also natural and I want to be able to sleep soundly at night!
  • Fekher

    Member
    July 16, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    @Farah that’s nice to share your experience it gives all a way for improvement our knowledge, waiting your up date. About natural preservative may be benzoic acid can be solution. Then your last sentence seems as joke however I couldn’t get it ????

  • Farah

    Member
    July 17, 2022 at 3:42 am

    @Fekher I just mean that no effective preservative = microbial growth in the product = possible infections in consumers. I’m just making fun of how the obsession with “natural” forgets that microbial growth is also natural and an infection should a contaminated product get into a wound is also “natural”. I think I’m just frustrated by how consumers are marketed to but also how a lot of them just accept it without questioning. Flax seed gel has high water content and a lot of long chain polysaccharides are often used to thicken it and is notoriously hard to preserve. I’ll be honest and say I went straight for the Germall plus. And I’m looking for something to boost it too. I’ve never tried the more natural alternatives. I would only do it once I have the budget to challenge test multiple possibilities. 

  • Fekher

    Member
    July 17, 2022 at 5:09 am

    @Farah yes about preservative it needs a lot of research to find the adequate one I will make a new discussion for it to be beneficial for all members take a look for it. 

  • Farah

    Member
    July 18, 2022 at 1:36 am

    Reporting back after an experiment: I hydrated the acacia gum separately with room temp water and added it to the flax/xanthan/guar mixture after hydrating the other two gums in the double boiler and allowing the mixture to cool. It didn’t turn grey. Still can’t answer whether it was the flax, xanthan or guar that the acacia had reacted with, but at least identified that the heat facilitated the reaction. My toddler allowing, I’ll try to find out which of the other ingredients was the culprit. But for now my gel doesn’t look grey anymore!

    One other change from last time was that I used the slurry method for the Xanthan and guar and had mixed them with some oil before adding to the flax seed gel. Not sure if that made a difference. But I suspect it’s the just the heat. 
    FWIW the slurry method didn’t make the gums any easier to hydrate for me. Probably because I’m using very little oil. 
  • evchem2

    Member
    July 18, 2022 at 1:19 pm

    @Farah if you’re going to do the slurry,  a ratio of ~3:1 dispersant: gums  should be a good starting point- when you say it wasn’t easier to hydrate you mean you saw clumping? 

    Maybe I’m missing something but why are you heating this formula? I believe all your gums are cold water soluble (aside from the flax mucilage)

  • Farah

    Member
    July 18, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    Yeah I still saw significant clumping when I poured the slurry into the flax gel and stirred. I always thought heat helped with dissolving the gums. I don’t have any sophisticated equipment beyond a hand kitchen mixer and immersion blender and I usually mix with the hand mixer on and off until the clumps are gone and the gums are dissolved. The immersion blender introduces too many bubbles for my liking. I had also once read that xanthan gum does need heat to reach its potential so to speak? 

    But this is all coming from a hobbyist. I don’t think you’re missing anything. I’m probably working inefficiently and incorrectly! Appreciate any tips or advice!
  • evchem2

    Member
    July 18, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    @Farah okay so I’d definitely recommend upping the oil used to disperse the gums, or (my preference) you can use any glycol (ex glycerin/ propanediol/ butylene glycol) to slurry. The glycols are all miscible in water, they’re humectants, and they can help the preservation of your product (lower water activity).  

    I’d say with that equipment you are going to incorporate air very easily which is a problem for serums but even worse for any emulsions you may want to try in the future. If you have even a drill you could buy different blades that would provide different advantages and should reduce air incorporation (a prop style blade), or ones that provide shear would help mitigate clumping issues (Cowles type blade). 

    The guar, xanthan, and acacia should all hydrate in room temperature water just as much as they would if heated. If you do incorporate too much air, you could use the heat to thin out your solution and stir carefully to help get some air out. Hope this helps- good luck!

  • Abdullah

    Member
    July 19, 2022 at 5:59 am

    I dont know about the hold of HEC much. I have just experienced that xanthan gum, guar gum or flax seed gel doesn’t feel good on hair. 

    Xanthan/guar ratio i gave you was just for viscosity purpose.

  • Farah

    Member
    July 19, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you so much @evchem2. I’ll try these tips. I’ve been meaning to ask… what professional equipment would the drill be approximating? An overhead stirrer? Or a homogenizer? I do have a drill so I’ll look for those bits!

    @Abdullah - Depends on what you’re aiming to do I guess? The guar and xanthan I’m still experimenting with but I’ve had some very nice results. The flax I’ll have to disagree with. It’s a holy grail for so many. For my hair, nothing beats just the pure flax seed gel with a sprinkle of citric acid to bring the pH to 4.5. It is just inelegant because of the hassle of having to glop a lot of it on to get decent hold… hence every kitchen DIYer trying to improve it without spoiling the magic of it. All that said, I’m going to order some HEC and experiment with it again as a thickener not a hold agent because I do remember it made very elegant and clear and professional looking gel that was a positive sensory experience in terms of application.

  • evchem2

    Member
    July 21, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    @Farah yes the drill with its various blades would mimic what overhead stirrers do. For homogenizers they are really more rotor stator types (at least from my experience), the benchtop version is usually something like a silverson or a rotosolver.  Your immersion blender may replicate some of the high shear, but will also likely bring in air if you can’t control the speed.

  • Farah

    Member
    July 23, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    Thank you so much @evchem2.

    I’ve been thinking of purchasing an overhead stirrer to make this process easier and because I’d like to start learning how to make my own conditioner. Do you think that would be overall more useful than getting a homogenizer? 

  • Anca_Formulator

    Member
    July 25, 2022 at 1:24 am

    @Farah Here’s a video on five ways to disperse gums without clumping. I found this helpful 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMbR4tPN3Sw

  • Farah

    Member
    July 25, 2022 at 7:39 am

    Thank you so much @Anca_Formulator… I’ve actually read their blog post on this but haven’t watched the video until now. Unfortunately, I can’t use glycerin or glycols. Lots of curly hair hates them and I’m already using other humectants. I have my eye on the tea sieve method! I’m already starting out with a viscous solution (the flax seed gel I start out with is quite thick), so I don’t know if the magnetic stirrer method will work. It seems like it would only work if you’re starting with water and you’re just using it to initially disperse the gums before they hydrate and become thick. Do you have any insight? Do you think it would work even if the starting solution is viscous? Still, the tea sieve will make my life much easier even if I just stick to the handheld kitchen mixer… until I find a quality overhead mixer for a good price!

  • Fekher

    Member
    July 25, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Thanks @Anca_Formulator for the video really interesting @Farah I guess even your initial product viscous it will work just add gum bit by bit then other idea in my mind just use half of the total amount of water for flaxseed then the other half to dilute the gum then mix both. 

  • Farah

    Member
    July 25, 2022 at 9:07 am

    @Fekher I’ve thought of the option 2 that you’re suggesting but I will lose so much product  performance in the interest of easier gum dispersion. So I will persevere in finding the most efficient way to do it! I have high hopes for the tea sieve!

  • Fekher

    Member
    July 25, 2022 at 9:34 am

    @Farah I guess it will be fine using high stiring and tea sieve. 

  • evchem2

    Member
    July 25, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    @Farah - I’d say yes to overhead mixer before homogenizer. Being able to get different blades will allow you work on a variety of product types, the homogenizer can help with stability but I think  you can still achieve a lot without it. I do think you’re right about the stir bar solution mixing too, especially if you’re using xanthan and guar together. The tea sieve should work decently well

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