My First DIY Flaxseed Gel Experience | Failures, Lessons & Successes!

My curiosity and strong DIY-spirit lead me to make my first batch of flaxseed gel a few weeks ago. I made several discoveries in my errors from my first trial which lead me to have a much successful batch this past Thursday. In this post, I will share my experience and lessons learned from my first trial run of making this gel.

Disclaimer: I know how we sometimes like a short article to read, but this is not the one! I jacked up my first batch of gel and want to share every single detail about it as well as share my neat little straining trick I created. Failures can lead to some pretty creative ideas. :-) 

For a pictorial of the step-by-step process and a video (done by Naptural85) {see this post}
For pictures of my twist out results using my first batch of flaxseed gel {see this post}

Although I watched several videos on how to make your own flaxseed gel (including Naptural85's) and knew what to expect, the process, of course, did not go as smoothly as expected. Since I never used/made flaxseed gel before, I did not want to have a huge batch of it in case my hair utterly decided to hate the gel and discredit my DIY efforts. Therefore, I used half the ingredients called for in most recipes I found online. 

The BOILING Process:
I added the seeds and water to the pot, boiled the water, and stirred. Simple enough, right? Some women stated the process should take anywhere between 5-10 minutes and that you would know the gel is ready once the water thickens some and a froth forms on the top.  Therefore, I stirred around for 7 minutes waiting for some froth to appear. ::sideeye:: In the meanwhile, the flaxseeds released a nice nutty aroma. Another 3 minutes passed, and no froth was evident. At this point, a gel like layer formed on top of the water, and it was THICK. Maybe a little too thick. Gosh, I still had to strain this stuff!

The STRAINING Process:
After about 12 minutes of total boil time, I arrived to the conclusion that I was not going to get any froth action and decided to proceed with the straining process. I learned two things from this step...

1) Don't boil your gel until it becomes too thick before going through the straining process. Since I was already starting with a smaller batch, I did not need to boil it as long as I did. After 12 minutes (too long period), the gel was already thick.

2) Don't allow your gel to sit too long while you get your straining method ready (aka already have things set up) because your gel will thicken as it cools/waits.

What worked and did not work for me. Sock Method: #fail. Mesh Bag: #win (see section under SECOND attempt).
I am aware there are two different straining methods floating out there on the web:
  • a stocking or nylon sock
  • a mesh strainer
I have plenty of sock stockings I don't wear anymore so I used one of those. After I had it set up over a glass jar as pictured above and poured the gel into the sock, NOTHING seeped through. Not even a drop. I just had a glob of gel inside sock hovering over a dry glass jar. #FAIL

Using tongs, I *attempted* to squeeze ANYTHING out the stocking even if it was just a drop of goo. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. It got to the point that so much pressure was being applied that actual seeds were coming out the stocking from it being stretched so much (greater stretch, bigger (mesh) holes, easier exit for seeds).

Apparently this was not working. #FAILED

I did not give up though. #akeyinlifeingeneral I dumped the glob back into the pot and added more water to "thin" out the gel and increase its volume. I waited until the gel got super hot again before attempting the stocking method again. THIS time, I had everything set up. #powerofwisdom 

I poured the mixture into the stocking and was able to get a little more gel out...MAYBE 1/3 cup (seen in the picture below). I strained as much of the gel as I could without stretching the stocking too much (and burning myself) and happily threw the stocking and seeds in the trash (the seeds supposedly can be reused).

So, my first batch of gel was a little too runny. There was still some stretchiness to it but not as much as I had expected. Apparently, I needed to try the process from a different approach to ensure I could separate as much of the thick gel from the seeds as possible

I think a wire strainer would be better for the straining process, but unfortunately, I do not own one. However, being the crafter/innovator that I am and having random left over stuff in my home from parties I helped decorate, I found these niffy little blue mesh bags I bought from Dollar Tree awhile ago (pictured two pictures above). My mind went to rolling...

The SECOND Attempt:
I started completely over with a new batch of seeds and water but this time only boiling for 7 minutes instead of 12. I had everything set up, of course, and was able to get a reasonable amount of thicker gel from the seeds without making a huge mess. The key aspect this time around was this:

I took a mesh bag, secured the tie around a glass jar, and poured the mix into the bag. The gel strained beautifully! I removed the rubber band, pulled the two strings to close the bag, and used tongs to strain the remainder of the gel from the bag into the jar. This was the magic that was yielded from this process:

Definitely much more than the first run with the sock! I was very pleased with my modification and the clean up was a breeze. I added my essential oils, gave a stir, closed the jar, and placed the gel into the refrigerator. The remaining seeds I put into a small plastic container and placed into the freezer for future use. #maybe

My FINAL Thoughts:
After having a sucky trial at first, it worked out in the end. But isn't that how life goes sometimes when you try something new? The things I've learned from this initial experience made my second attempt a breeze a few days ago (although I had to put in a little muscle to get the gel out since I made a full batch).

Batch made on Jan. 15, 2015
I really love this gel on both my hair and Z's! As long as I don't catch the lazy bug at the wrong time, this will be our go-to gel. 

Have you made your own flaxseed gel before? Was the first time a success or did you have to go through a some learning pain? What do you add to your flaxseed gel?

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