PACKING YOUR OWN SUPPLEMENT CAPSULES Ė
Some Advantages and Disadvantages
Written by - Shari Soza

The first thing I am working on is a comparison of cost alone, ignoring
the time factor, and the cost of initially buying the plastic
capsule-filling machine. I am also ignoring the total cost, meaning the
cost with sales tax and with freight added on. In another section, I
describe how you do it, and try to focus on time involved.

Packing the capsules yourself is like "self service" gas prices at the
gas station. For vitamins and amino acids that you can get access to
buy in bulk, as a powder form, you can save the labor portion, if you do
the packing yourself. Then, you can afford to take more different
kinds of things, than you probably could, if you paid "full service" price for
everything.

You will still find things that you want to take, but don't yet know how
to buy the powder in bulk. You will probably always try a new thing in
the pre-packed capsules, simply because who wants to buy 300gm of
something new, and then find out that you don't like the effect on your
body!

If you take LOTS of these supplement powders, try and support the
vendors who will offer you the bulk form, and stop supporting the ones
who only offer you pre-packed capsules. They will get the hint. If a
lot more people packed their own capsules, it might even bring prices
down.

FIRST A COMPARISON OF MATERIALS COSTS ALONE

ASSUMPTIONS
Ignoring talk about market competitive factors and using my empty
capsule prices and the powder prices in the Beyond a Century catalog,
and the pre-packed capsule prices from Nutrition Express catalog, as
examples, I will give some examples. These are two of my favorite
mail-order nutrient vendors. These things may cost you even more if
you get them in a store. The store has to charge more, to help pay the
rent, etc.

To get a rough idea of how much the powder actually weighs, I took a
lightweight herb powder; KavaKava, filled 24 empty capsules, then dumped
out the contents, and weighed them, with no capsules. It showed 1/4
oz, but that can mean "up to" 1/2 oz, since it reflects postal policies.

And the weight of different herbs or amino acids or other powders can
vary a lot, so it is just guess, anyway. So, that is an estimate of
how much of an herb it might take to really fill 24 capsules. One
hundred capsules full ("00" size) could take up to 2 ounces of an herb
powder.

WHATEVER YOU DO, BE SURE TO LABEL EVERYTHING.
If you can't remember what something is, you have to throw it away.

SOME EXAMPLES USING VITAMIN AND AMINO ACID POWDERS
As an example, assuming that a 500mg capsule of TwinLab L-Glutamine is
"0" size, the cost of those 24 capsules is 24*1.2 cents, roughly 28.8
cents. And since 100 = 24*4.16, the capsule cost for a bottle of 100
TwinLab L-Glutamine is $1.20. Ok, that is capsule cost.

Next, I look up the powder cost for L-Glutamine, from my Beyond A
Century catalog, and the pre-packed cost from the Nutrition Express
catalog.

If I assume a constant 500mg for each capsule, then a 100gm bottle of
L-Glutamine powder would make 200 of the 500mg capsules. And the
powder cost for that is $9.75.

TO MAKE 200 CAPSULES OF L-GLUTAMINE
Powder Cost $9.75
Capsules Cost $2.40
Total $12.15

TO BUY TWO BOTTLES OF 100 CAPSULES OF L-GLUTAMINE 500MG
(Nutrition Express prices for TwinLab brand)
Pre-packed Cost $10.47 x 2 $20.94

This is just one example. Actual savings will vary a lot, depending
upon your habitual buying practices. If you always go get them in a
health food store, your price for the pre-packed capsules may be
higher. Converting to packing them yourself would mean EVEN BIGGER
SAVINGS than my examples.

Nutrition Express seems to have the most competitive prices to me, but
then I haven't been buying pre-packed capsules for quite some time.

Ok, letís try a B vitamin. If you take a lot of Niacin, B-3, like I
do, because it opens up the circulation, especially in the skin, letís
compare.

I am taking TwinLab 500mg, and those are size "0".

I should be packing these myself, but I haven't gotten around to it.
This article is a reminder for me.

I like the flush, and I can get 200gm of powder for $4.60 from Beyond A
Century. That much powder would fill 400 x 500mg capsules, because
obviously, 500mg is half a gram.

TO MAKE 400 CAPSULES OF NIACIN (FLUSH) 500MG
Capsule Cost for 400 $4.80
Powder Cost $4.60
Total $9.40

TO BUY FOUR BOTTLES OF 100 CAPSULES OF 500mg NIACIN
(Nutrition Express prices for TwinLab brand)
Pre-packed Cost $5.25 x 4 $21.00

This is getting interesting. I am using the best sources I am
currently familiar with, to compare with.

Ok, letís try L-CARNITINE. That amino acid helps to burn fat, and adds
to muscle strength. It helps carry fat to where it gets burned inside
the cells. I gave that to my late husband to help his heart do a
better job. It makes the heart a better, stronger pump. He would
have probably died years sooner, if he hadn't had it.

Beyond A Century has several forms of Carnitine. The cheapest is 50gm
for $20.00. Comparing against TwinLab's offering of 250mg each, that
bottle of powder would make 200 of the 250mg capsules.

The cheapest bottle of these that TwinLab offers is 60 capsules for
$18.87. Again, these are Nutrition Express's prices for TwinLab
products.

TO MAKE 200 CAPSULES OF PURE L-CARNITINE AT 250mg
Capsule Cost for 200 $ 2.40
Powder Cost $20.00
Total $22.40

TO BUY 200 CAPSULES IN BOTTLES OF 60, THAT IS 3.33 BOTTLES
(Nutrition Express prices for TwinLab brand)
Pre-packed Cost $18.87 x 3.33 $62.90

Savings on this amino acid are even more dramatic! You will probably
find fewer saving on substances where there is more competition. On
less popular products, there would not be as much competition.

Ok, letís try CREATINE MONOHYDRATE. There are so many choices in this
one; it is not as simple to compare. I don't have an open bottle of
this to know for sure the capsule size, but if we assume 500mg fits in a
"0" size capsule, like most amino acid powders, we can try to compare.

This one might be better to take in a protein drink, to get the loading
dose you want, depending on the taste of it. I don't know. I
haven't tried this one yet. I can get "000" capsules, but they are
not as economical, and they are bigger to swallow.

If we assume 500mg per capsule, a 300gm bottle of CREATINE MONOHYDRATE
is $22.50 from Beyond A Century. That would make 600capsules.

TwinLab has 700mg and 1200mg sizes. The 700mg version is probably
nearer to the "0" size. I am not sure.

TO MAKE 600 CAPSULES OF PURE CREATINE MONOHYDRATE AT 500mg
Capsule Cost for 600 $ 7.20
Powder Cost $22.50
Total $29.70

TO BUY THE EQUIVALENT IN 700mg CAPSULES WOULD BE 428.6 CAPSULES, AT 120
CAPSULES/BOTTLE WOULD BE 3.57 BOTTLES (Nutrition Express prices for
TwinLab brand)
Pre-packed Cost $16.99 x 3.57 $60.67

Savings on this substance are dramatic, also!

WHAT ABOUT THE TIME INVOLVED?
Enough examples of materials cost. What about the time involved
filling these empty capsules? How long does it really take to fill
them?

I will describe what is involved. The speed will depend upon what else
you are doing. I usually do mine while I read email or websurf. Some
of you might do it while you watch TV.

I keep a glass-baking dish close by, with my 24-at-a-time Capsule
Machine.
For the larger 100-at-a-time Cap M Quik, it fits in there too.

I keep the empty capsules I use for myself, in a glass jar. I have
some 1976 Bicentennial-canning jars that have rubber gaskets and wire
bails. I use smaller versions that are about a cup full, to hold my
individual herbs. When I buy amino acids or vitamin powders, they come
in a plastic jar.

To do 24, I shake the Capsule Machine free of any powder residue from
last time, then I take out 24 empty capsules, lay them in the glass
baking dish in the corner, and one-by-one, I take the long half of the
capsule and put that in one side of the plastic machine, and the short
half in the other side. Each part goes into a hole.

You need to have the holes powder-free, or the capsules might stick when
you try to crunch them all together, and then push the filled ones
out. Occasionally I lose one.

You can hold it near a light, and see the shine of the bottom of the
capsule, to see if you have filled all the holes.

When I get the holes all filled, I take a clean spoon and take a little
of the powder out of the herb jar, or I pour a little out from the jar,
onto this tray of upside-down gelatin capsules. I tap the
plastic machine from the side, to make the powder settle down into the
empty capsules.

I take a 3" x 5" index card and try to rake the powder back and forth to
fill them. If they are still not full, I put a little bit more on
there. I do this cycle several times, until they are as full as they
are going to get.

If I overdo it, I have to scrape some of that powder back into the jar,
so I try to not overdo it. It is more sanitary and less chance of
contaminating it with traces of an earlier substance, to never put any
powder back into the jar.

I never sell any from those personal jars to customers, so there is
really no health problem. Just that if I don't want to get everything
all mixed up, for myself, following certain habits promotes purity. I
do tend to spill a little herb in the bottom of the baking dish, so
every so often, I make capsules of that self-organizing new mystery
formula. It hasn't hurt me yet, since I tend to take the same things
all the time.

At first, I used to wash the plastic machine all the time, but it isn't
really necessary. All the powders are dry.

The biggest real problem is occasionally ruining a capsule when you try
to put the two halves of the machine together, and push them out.

When the long sides of the capsules are as full as they are going to
get, I pick up the other side of the filling machine, and lay it on top,
and push down. This crunches the two halves together and pushes them
into the top half. Then, I turn it over and push them out.

Then, I take the 3" x 5" card and scoop the 24 capsules up, and put them
into the compartment in my plastic tackle box.

With the larger 100-at-a-time Cap M Quik, it is a little different. It
is basically a tray for 100 upside down long sides of the capsules,
which stands on legs. You put all the long halves into
the tray, with it raised, then you fill them, and then you lower the
legs, so to speak, and the capsules stick out. Then you put the short
halves of all the capsules on by hand, one-by-one.

To store the 100-at-a-time ones, just use the same labeled bottle you
had bought pre-packed capsules in, before. Or, relabel another
supplement bottle you had from before. You can store your empty vitamin
bottles in a box in the closet.

It really doesn't matter which machine you use, the time for hand
motions for each capsule are about the same.

As for storing the packed capsules, after you make them, I like to use
clear plastic tackle boxes that have lots of little storage
compartments. I like the ones that are about 4" x 7" and have basically
six compartments in them. There must be a gillion kinds of plastic
tackle boxes. Mine are just about right for 24 of the "00" capsules,
in each of the six compartments. If you make 100, you can store them
in your old bottle from the pre-packed ones.

WHATEVER YOU DO, BE SURE TO LABEL EVERYTHING.
If you can't remember what something is, you have to throw it away.

If you live in a humid area, of high humidity, you might need the
desiccant packets to store with your empty capsules. I haven't got a
source for those yet, but that is a factor to consider. Check back
later, Iíll find them. Some substances attract moisture.

IN CONCLUSION, if cost is a factor, and it is for most of us, learning
how to pack your own capsules will probably save you at least 50%, or
even more. On less popular products, there is not as much competition
to bring the prepackaged prices down.

Actual savings will vary considerably, depending on the vendors you
choose to buy from, and competitive market factors.

I hope this advice helps you learn how to do this yourself, so you can
hire yourself to do the packing of capsules.

Shari Soza, mailto: soza@snowcrest.net
I am a semi-retired philosopher-futurist, interested in computers
and in gardening, wholistic learning, and wholistic healing.

My BS was in Chemistry, 1968.
I have a database of stress and nutrition anecdotal style facts, I call
NutriZen\BodyEquations, at
http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/NZdata/
and a search engine at
http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/SZengine.htm
If you want the pages in the database, they start with NZdata.

http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/plants/curtilage.htm
http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/plants/gardenin.htm
http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/herbs/packherb.htm
http://www.snowcrest.net/soza/health/lymphbr.htm

I would appreciate some feedback about this, to my email address. I hope
to learn a lot about fat and muscle metabolism from you fellows, and
also lots about the hormones.