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Since I am a bit space-challenged, I like using concentrates -- even better super-concentrates (like eGoo) if they work. I can mix up enough concentrate or super-concentrate to make many gallons of juice in the same time that it takes to mix a gallon of ready-to-go juice.

PEO. PEO-based super-concentrates are easy. PEO is so potent that you need very little extra water to make a stable uniform super-concentrate. However, even with PEO a waterless concentrate doesn't work out. You get a nice slurry but it will separate out after a few days.

GUAR. As readers of the blog know, guar-based juice will stratify into layers if there is not enough water in the mix. I have made some stable concentrates but no stable super-concentrates. I am currently exploring some waterless guar-based mixes and, so far, the only one that hasn't stratified is made with guar gum, Dawn Pro, and salt. It forms a sort of semi-gel. It seems to work well when hydrated, but there will be some little chunks of un-hyrated stuff. The other waterless concentrates have shown some stratification, but perhaps they will hydrate well. I am letting them sit for a while longer.

HEC. HEC has become a favorite of mine. My longest-lasting super-giants this past season (Autumn 2012 till now) have come from HEC-based mixes. Mix-to-go works pretty well although the Natrosol HEC really benefits from complete hydration and rest if it is to remain stable. Natrosol takes quite a bit longer (in my experience) to become stable than Dow Cellosize. I have a 3:1 concentrate recipe that I am refining that works well. But, so far, attempts to create a waterless concentrate or super-concentrate that doesn't stratify has eluded me.

At the same time that I have been working on this, another friend has been exploring the use of HEC as part of a PEO-based concentrate. His normal mixing protocol involves hydrating all the polymers in the presence of detergent. So far, the HEC has separated out for him no matter how much he stirs.

Since I don't have a magnetic stirrer, I asked my pal Thommy to see if the use of a magnetic stirrer might give better results with the almost-waterless concentrate that I have most recently tried to create: 

  • 2.3 grams Natrosol 250 HHR
  • 1 gram baking soda
  • 50 grams water
  • 50 grams Dawn Pro

We've tried a few different ways of combining the ingredients, including mixing up the order that they ingredients are added. So far, even with a magnetic stirrer left running for a long time, the HEC separates out.

It is looking like HEC works best if it is hydrated without the presence of detergent -- or in the presence (as in a mix-n-go solution) a low percentage of detergent.

FURTHER EXPLORATIONS

[NOTE TO SELF: go though lab notebook and enter all the trials so far. 2/6/2013]

2/6/2013. So far I have tried a few different ways of getting something more concentrated than the 3:1 concentrate with which I have been getting such great results lately. 6:1 concentrate has eluded me so far -- even when making sure that the HEC is fully-hydrated before adding the detergent.

Even mixing a stable (year old) 3% HEC solution with Dawn Pro ended up with some gel settling although the mix looked uniform in its container. The 6:1 that I mixed up last night (letting the HEC hydrate over night) resulted in a thick layer of HEC chunks floating on top.

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