I love thick lotions and body butters, but there is always an issue with the bottle. Either there is a little lotion left inside the bottle that just refuses to come out through the pump or dispensing cap, or I don’t like the bottle aesthetic and would prefer the lotion in one of my favorite glass bottles. It is difficult to get all the lotion out of a bottle, and leaving lotion in the bottle is like throwing away good money. The best way to do this is with either a very small spatula or by indirectly heating the lotion.
Rookie attempts at getting all the lotion out of a bottle include directly heating or adding something like water or oil to thick lotions in an attempt to thin it out. You should never, ever do this. Do not directly heat lotion. Exposure to high temperatures can affect the preservatives, silicon, and other ingredients. You may think “So what? It’s still lotion…”, but you would be mistaken. Affecting these ingredients can make your once-favorite lotion smell terrible, can cause the texture to feel different, and can affect the shelf life and result in bacterial growth (with the added health hazards). The lotion is SET once made and adding things to it to thin or thicken set lotion compromises the lotion. For example, adding water to lotion will just result in a runny mess at the top or bottom layer of your lotion. It does not recombine properly which affects the emulsion and can affect the preservatives too. The same goes for other additives as far as experience has shown me.
Getting All the Lotion Out of a Bottle
The best way that I have found to get all the lotion out of a bottle is to either use a very small spatula or to indirectly, slightly heat the bottle of lotion in a warm water bath. Since I typically buy a variety of lotion products from different manufacturers, they usually have different heights and neck diameters. I have not invested in a dozen very small spatulas. Instead, I typically indirectly heat a bottle in a warm water bath. Fill a glass measuring cup (or other microwave-safe bowl) with about 2 cups of water and heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes (do not bring to a boil). Close the dispensing cap of your bottle of lotion and invert in the bowl of water for a few minutes.
The indirect heat should “liquefy” the lotion inside the bottle, making the contents slide down into the lid-end of the bottle and making it easier to squeeze out most of the lotion. Swirl the water around every minute or so to distribute the heat evenly. After a few minutes, try squeezing out some lotion into your hand or into the new bottle.
If moving the lotion into a new bottle, repeat the water bath steps until you get most of the lotion into the new bottle. Make sure your new bottle is CLEAN, unless you are adding the same lotion to it (and even then, I would still wash and preferably steam clean the new bottle in between refills).
Some more tips:
- Invest in some various-sized dispensing caps to use on bottles with a hand pump.
- Invest in at least one very small spatula (the longer the better).
- Reusing bottles is a great way to keep your decor consistent (or themed with seasonal options), but opt for glass and clean/disinfect the inside and outside of the bottle with steam in between refills.
- If there is still lotion trapped in the bottle after the warm water bath, try the following:
- Invert the bottle and place inside an empty cup for several hours, allowing gravity to pull the lotion into the bottle neck area (apply a hot water bath with this step to speed it up);
- Cut the (plastic) bottle in half with a ridiculously sharp knife; use a cutting board. Then you can use your very small spatula to scoop out the contents trapped at the bottom or in the bottle neck.