Need equipment clarification

Hello all,
I'm new to this forum and would like to extend an advanced thank you for your help! After reading several threads on equipment/supplies, I am still left needing a little clarity on the topic of equipment needed for scaling up. Many of the threads have advice about certain equipment using language like "really only necessary for large productions runs." The problem is, I don't know the context for "large."  I'm new to manufacturing cosmetics so I could use some guidance based on my situation - and patience with me being a rookie. ;)

The current situation:
Currently manufacturing creams and balms in a home kitchen doing 100oz batches of a cream using standard kitchen equipment: hand mixer, stainless bowls, glass beakers, water bath using a fondue pot and double boiler on a gas range. Basic, but it was a place to start.

Scaling up:
Would like to do single batches of 5-10 gallons (~ 375-750 units)
We will soon be moving to a shared manufacturing facility, and I have a good sense of the general list of new equipment I will need. There has been lots of good information here on hot plates, mixers, viscometers, etc...
What I'm confused about are the actual containers for mixing! Should I be looking at a simple 5-10 gallon stock pot for mixing, or should I be looking at a "mixing kettle" such as this: 

Those are obviously WAY more expensive, and I'm not exactly sure why I would need one. What would be the purpose of this? 

What got me confused was reading a book on making herbal products, in which the author instructs that both the oil and water phases get heated in two separate "steam jacketed mixing kettles." Also "experimental formulas are often developed in vessels that are not equipped with a heating and cooling jacket. Under these air-cooled conditions, longer stirring times are needed."

Any thoughts on those assertions? Is a steam jacketed kettle really only necessary when we move up in production scale again?

Last question: I've gotten SO much conflicting advice on cooling methods. My current method is to cool in a refrigerator until the cream is back to approx room temp, then fill. What are your opinions on that issue?

Thanks again for your help!!


  • DuncanDuncan Member, Professional Chemist
    Jacket heating is quicker, and more even, you're less likely to get burnt spots.
    You can (and I have) used a 20 litre cooking pot on a hotplate to make a batch. You'll need an overhead stirrer going quickly to ensure circulation.
    If you're looking for big stuff - try local auctions for surplus equipment from the food prep industry you can get some surprising bargains
    UK based, Over 20 years in Toiletries, After a 5 year sabbatical doing cleaning products, back in the land of Personal Care
  • Thank you, Duncan!
  • I'm also interested in people's comments regarding how best to cool a mixture down. I'm still playing around with very small batches while formulating, meaning I put icepacks around the jars once poured off.... but that's definitely not going to work on anything more than 6 jars per batch. (And I don't intend to stay at such small batches!)
  • apersonaperson Member
    bearing in mind that I haven't done cosmetics manufacturing, much less using "jacketed kettles" - I did some preliminary research and willing to share.

    jacketed kettle is currently constructed using a "dimpled" shell method.  this introduces turbulence to the flow to allow even heating throughout the entire shell.  

    apparently the problem with a plenum-style jacket, is that it allows condensation to form, which destroys the evenness of the heat.  I imagine a double-boiler/bain marie to suffer from the same problems.

    if heating the liquid evenly is your goal, then a steam or electric jacket will do it, in style.

    typical uses of heat (from what I've read) tend to be three-fold:
    * initially melting solids (waxes, oils), typically for mixing or dispersion
    * preheating water/oil in preparation for phase-inversion (emulsification)
    * prepping for a specific ingredients optimum incorporation (at a specific temperature).

    if your product is the type to incorporate materials which are sensitive to over-heating, and have a strong temperature/density correlation, you would likely prefer to have a jacketed kettle; but depending on the style of overhead mixing you are doing, you may be able to get by with something that efficiently moves the fluid around (including at the boundaries!).

    good luck.
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