Day 118: What to do with a recipe that flops.

Mary EK Denison
5 min readMay 26, 2020


Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Chemistry wasn’t my strongest skill. It was close to my math skills, which are not great. I can add and subtract, multiply and divide and I think there was a time I could do conversions.

Chemistry shows up in many forms. Cooking, creating cosmetics, herbal formulas, drinks, and many other things that I can’t name, at the moment. Adding one more thing can REALLY make or break a formula, or stew. Today, mine was adding a new ingredient to an already altered formula. This was in a cosmetic that I was making.

I had taken the original formula that I really liked and had switched out an ingredient and it turned out that I liked both formulas. I gave decent size samples to a friend to test and give me feedback. She liked the first formula, but wasn’t so keen on the second one, but she couldn’t tell me exactly why. Hmmm, ok. I was using both and I liked the softness of the second formula because it gave it a better glide.

I told her to use the second formula on her body instead of her face, because body creams need to be able to spread more easily as it is covering a larger area. I haven’t checked back with her, yet.

I decided to be more creative with formula two. I added an ingredient that I was sure would make this body cream even better. I was SO sure of it, and I had seen similar ideas about it that I assumed turned out (or it wouldn’t have been posted, somewhere). You don’t always know things until the last step. My last step was blending everything together which I do until I get a nice looking spreadable cream that solidifies in the jars. Typically, this step doesn’t take a very long time, and I know when to stop so that I can still pour it into the jars.

Well, I kept blending, and blending, and blending and 45 minutes later, it was still the same. It wasn’t cooling down like it should, either. My stick blender kept getting hot, so I would put a cold rag around it as I worked to kept the little motor from burning out. Then I put the whole pan in a bowl of cold water as I kept up the blending. It should have been ‘gelled’ by then, anyhow. I couldn’t understand it. The ingredient I added, or so I thought, should have actually made it really creamy.

I had all these different sample jars and containers in front of me because I didn’t know how many this recipe would fill. So, I decided that I would fill them anyhow, even though I was not satisfied with the product, but truthfully, I was tired of the process because I was not getting the results I wanted. I thought that maybe it would solidify in the jars when it cooled down on its own.

I poured this ‘stuff’ into the jars and went off to shower and sit in a hot tub afterwards to relax. I put a YouTube video on from a minister I like who I find inspirational. Then I went to spend another hour to lay on my PEMF pad and continued to listen to this inspirational video (by then I was on my third one). Long story short, I was away from the jars for about three hours, so I figured that was enough time to see something happen. Not a chance. It was still in a semi liquid state, and I could tell that it was not going to work.

I was quite disappointed. Not so much that it failed, but I used some very nice ingredients for this formula, and I hate waste. Due to the items in it, I cannot use it for anything else. I kept saying to myself, ‘Thomas Edison said he knows 6,000 ways the light bulb doesn’t work’. Well, I know I don’t want to try this 6,000 times, but I will try it once more.

I will go back to formula one and add this additional ingredient and see if that is the key. I’m a little nervous about that because I really don’t know what caused this one to flop. It’s like having a white sheet of paper and spilling even one drop of ink on it. You no longer have a white sheet of paper because you cannot take out the drop. You can cut it out but then you have a piece of paper that is altered and you can’t hide it, or put it back to the way it was. Besides, all my sample jars are filled with my flop. So, this time I will cut the recipe in half so that if it doesn’t work, at least it won’t be as big of a waste.

I did something similar with a batch of soap, but in that case, I was able to not waste that. You don’t always know how soap will turn out if you change one thing. It wasn’t what I wanted, and it turn out very dark because instead of using just walnut hulls, I used black walnut hulls so it kind of looks like African soap, only it’s not.

If you know what African soap is, made in Nigeria, you will know it is soap that is very dark and used for skin issues. Here in America, that would make it fall under the Drug category because it makes changes to the skin. I am keeping my soaps out of that category. I used a different sugar than before, too, because sugar can be a moisturizer. Last time it created sparkly areas on the soap, which I liked. This time it made the soap stay too soft and taking it out of the molds was tricky. It is hardening nicely, though.

Eventually, I will have all my recipes perfected for my products. I am not creating these to become big and famous, per se. I just like handcrafted and fine products that have less chemicals in them. I like the ingredients to be able to be pronounced by my clients without having a chemistry degree. I think that less chemicals, alcohols, etc., are better for your skin. I find creating them is very enjoyable and brings a sense of calming and creativity to my life. So far, those who are using them really like them. My oldest son is my best critic and when they pass his test, I know I did good. He absolutely loves my soaps and bath salts for the way they make his skin feel.

I will perfect my flops, for sure. Imperfect perfections. It’s a beautiful learning curve. I still don’t know what I will do with this batch but I will see what happens in the morning.



Mary EK Denison

My vocation is in alternative health therapies; cosmetic acupuncture, oriental medicine, esthetics… Subscribe for a monthly newsletter