Have you ever experienced spending a decent amount of money on HIGH quality oils, butters and waxes to make the perfect balm only to find hard grains in it once it hardens? Or maybe you’re more like me and make balms for the medicine cabinet and months after making them find the texture has changed?
Grainy balms and salves are something that I felt was unavoidable and had no rhyme or reason to why it happened. I suspected at one point that coconut oil was the culprit but never found an answer or solution.
I stumbled upon an article talking about why balms become grainy, which ingredients cause it and how to fix it or avoid it. I continued my research finding that this was a common issue with DIY skin care that contained shea butter and there was a very simple fix. The initial article I found is HERE.
Basically, the issue is crystallization. When a butter or wax is not sufficiently heated and/or not quickly cooled down, it oxidizes and forms granules or crystals.
To get even more technical, there are different melting points of the different fatty acids in the butter. If the butter melts doesn’t thoroughly melt, and then cools too slowly, the fatty acids solidify at different rates and start to crystallize.
These crystals melt when they come in contact with the skin but they feel unpleasant. This is most commonly found when using shea butter or mango butter. However, I have heard it can also happen with beeswax.
Crystallization does not indicate that the balm is ineffective or has gone bad. It’s just not optimal for the consistency of the balm.
To avoid crystallization, butters need to be heated to 175 degrees (Fahrenheit) and held at that temperature for about twenty minutes. I now heat the shea butter in the double boiler first for 20 minutes before adding the other ingredients in a recipe. I also use a thermometer like THIS to check that the butter reaches 175 degrees for 20 minutes.
Side Note: What’s A Double Boiler?
Once I add the rest of my ingredients and they are melted, I remove from heat, add essential oils and vitamin E (if the recipe calls for them), pour into a jar and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
**The longer the butter remains melted, the more likely it is that crystals will form.
How to remedy grains in an already made balm:
The good news is that you can actually reverse this issue in balms you’ve already made.
- Gently reheat the balm on medium or even low heat in a double boiler. I say gently because reheating a balm will weaken the therapeutic properties of the other ingredients so you want to slowly melt the balm. When you reheat, keep the lid on the jar. Getting water in a balm will cause bacteria growth.
- Once the balm is completely melted, immediately place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
This has been such a nugget of information for me in particular because I’ve run into my Lip Line Eraser being grainy. I now know how to combat this and fix it if need be! I hope this post has helped you as well-did you already know?
Balms to Try:
- Lip Line Eraser
- Hormone Balance Balm
- Neosporin Balm
- Apricot Myrrh Dry Skin Balm
- Eucalyptus Lemon Happy Heel Balm
- Gardener’s Hand Salve
- Peppermint Eucalyptus Vapor Rub
- 3 in 1 Beauty Balm