Preserving breast milk for jewelry

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Summary:

I’m looking for help to find the right preservatives for preserving breast milk in order to make jewelry with resin.

Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi everyone! My wife and I want to make breast milk jewelry but I’m having issues finding the right preservatives and amounts to use. We will be heating approx 5ml of milk and need a chemical preservative to mix in order to keep the milk from turning bad after months/years in the resin. The idea is to heat the milk with the chemicals until it’s a paste then spread it on wax paper. After it completely dries/(100% free of moisture )the product will be crushed into powder and mixed with the resin to make jewelry. I have optiphen and sodium benzoate. Would these be helpful? I’m no chemistry pro so just looking for opinions! Thanks
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
BillTre
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this project is not fully clear to me.

Components of the milk will be lipids droplets as a part of the emulsion that the milk fluid is.
In the milk liquid, the lipid droplets will be separated by aqueous (water-like) fluid. These little drops have optical properties that give milk some of its look. This will probably be lost when dried down.

Is it your intent to get rid of the lipids also. Not sure how well the lipids will mix with the resin.
 
  • #3
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this project is not fully clear to me.

Components of the milk will be lipids droplets as a part of the emulsion that the milk fluid is.
In the milk liquid, the lipid droplets will be separated by aqueous (water-like) fluid. These little drops have optical properties that give milk some of its look. This will probably be lost when dried down.

Is it your intent to get rid of the lipids also. Not sure how well the lipids will mix with the resin.
Hi, thanks for the response! Yes I want to completely eliminate all fluid/ anything that can go bad from the breast milk! Our goal is to preserve the milk into a dry powder form that will not mold/turn colors in the future. (We want the powdered milk to remain a white/off white color to be appealing to the eyes) There’s some others online that have discovered a way to preserve it through the pasteurization process that I believe eliminates the bacteria, that would cause it to go bad eventually (unfortunately they will not share their processes) During this they add a mixture of powdered chemicals that help to preserve it. I’m comfortable working with resin and the jewelry making process, I just need assistance with what chemicals would be best to achieve the preservation of the milk.

The only videos online are of the DIY kit nature and do not tell what the included preservation compound is made of. I’ll attach the link so you can better see what I’m trying to accomplish.

thanks!

 
  • #4
BillTre
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Well that was different.
I have never heard of this before.
What I have done is fix, dehydrate and clear biological specimens and then embedded them in resin. This is done with chemicals that can be toxic if not handled properly.
This seems different.
It would be very useful to know what the secret powder is and does. Is does not seem to be any fix that I have heard of. There also seems to be a lot of it, perhaps more than the milk it was added to.

Pasturization does not completely sterilize the milk. It merely knocks down the numbers of active bacteria.
The powder may kill microbes. The resin may have similar properties.
I the process I mentioned above for biological specimens, the fixation process would kill everything and the dehydration process and clearing would remove all the lipids as well as making sure everything was dead.

Its not clear to me what is happening with the lipids (fats).
Small lipid droplets may make an emulsion with the resin (as they do in milk) which might preserve some of the milk's optical properties. These properties are in part based on light interacting differently with the lipid droplets and whatever is surrounding them (watery milk fluid or? resin).
 
  • #5
chemisttree
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Water will react with most resins so the water fraction of the fluid must be “fixed” in a chemical manner. This can be easily done by adding plaster of paris (the hemihydrate of calcium sulfate) and allowing it to harden. The result of this reaction is the dihydrate of calcium sulfate. This is simply gypsum powder like you would find in “desert rose.” It helps that the plaster is a brilliant white just like milk.
The instructions call for grinding the hardened (they refer to it as dry) plaster into a powder and suspending that into the resin. Drying something like this will prevent bacterial growth if kept sealed from atmospheric moisture... like maybe suspending it into some epoxy. The white of gypsum will stay that way for the ages! The resin will darken long before the remaining proteins and fats will cause any problem.
 
  • #6
chemisttree
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Summary:: I’m looking for help to find the right preservatives for preserving breast milk...

I have optiphen and sodium benzoate. Would these be helpful? I’m no chemistry pro so just looking for opinions! Thanks
Sodium benzoate works best at an acidic pH but your product will be dry so that’s not really a solution for you. The optiphen is a good choice. Its a mixture of 2-phenoxy ethanol and 1,2-dihydroxyoctane. The smallest and simplest of good old detergents these two!
 
  • #7
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Water will react with most resins so the water fraction of the fluid must be “fixed” in a chemical manner. This can be easily done by adding plaster of paris (the hemihydrate of calcium sulfate) and allowing it to harden. The result of this reaction is the dihydrate of calcium sulfate. This is simply gypsum powder like you would find in “desert rose.” It helps that the plaster is a brilliant white just like milk.
The instructions call for grinding the hardened (they refer to it as dry) plaster into a powder and suspending that into the resin. Drying something like this will prevent bacterial growth if kept sealed from atmospheric moisture... like maybe suspending it into some epoxy. The white of gypsum will stay that way for the ages! The resin will darken long before the remaining proteins and fats will cause any problem.
Thanks for the great information! So just to be sure Im clear on what to do... I should simply add “plaster of Paris” to the raw breast milk while heating it in the double boiler. This should turn it into the plaster that I can then crush into the powder after it’s dry correct? Is there any need for the optiphen still?
 
  • #8
chemisttree
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Thanks for the great information! So just to be sure Im clear on what to do... I should simply add “plaster of Paris” to the raw breast milk while heating it in the double boiler. This should turn it into the plaster that I can then crush into the powder after it’s dry correct? Is there any need for the optiphen still?
Yes, exactly. How much of the plaster to add and how much optiphen will be your experiment. Use cow’s milk until you are satisfied with it.
If it sets too slowly, add an accelerator.
https://www.usg.com/content/usgcom/en/products/walls/drywall/plasters/gypsum-plaster-accelerator.160216.html#!back

If it sets too quickly, try a retarder.
https://www.usg.com/content/usgcom/en/products/walls/drywall/plasters/gypsum-plaster-retarder.html

borax is a good set retarder for plaster and it has antifungal properties as well. Two-fer!
 
Last edited:
  • #9
did mixing the plaster of Paris and raw breast milk work? Did the plaster alter the natural color at all?
 

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