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
Hi there! I am having a problem with crystallization in my Shea based salve. It’s not happening until months later though. I am going to try the heating and then freezing technique, I think it will work, as before I was letting the final product cool slowly at room temperature. If you melt the Shea first, and leave it for 20 minutes, when do you add the beeswax? Is there a chance that the crystallization is coming from the beeswax as well?Also, do you take the Shea off the heat before adding carrier oils? I’m just curios in what order I should add all of the ingredients. I have Shea butter, beeswax, a couple different carriers, and menthol crystals. Can you help me? Thanks!!
Jessica-Hi! I add the butter to my glass cup and let it heat for about 20 minutes. Then I add the rest of the ingredients and heat those. I would suggest that once you pour the final ingredients into their containers that you refrigerate. This should help. I don’t think the beeswax is the issue. Keep me posted!
I make cannabis balm with beeswax and coconut oil. I have a problem with graininess after it has cooled and not sure why? Could you help with this problem?
Tooter-I explain exactly what the issue is and how to fix it in the post. Thank you!
This is lifesaving! Thank you, Jenni! I will try it today and keep you posted.
Qiao-Yes, keep me posted!
I’ve just made some lovely balm with Shea Butter but it’s the beeswax pastilles that go back to their original shape when things cool…they were completely melted as well so at least for me, the issue seems more beeswax than shea butter. I appreciate your suggestions and help as I find this very frustrating! Off to try and reheat and see if it works with the beeswax culprits!
Hi Brenda-Sounds like the quality of your beeswax could be off? I try to stick with beeswax from Mountain Rose Herbs but I’m also trying to try out a few Amazon brands so I can suggest something a bit easier to get. So far, the 2 brands I’ve tried on Amazon are good but now they’re unavailable. I think you can get some pretty low quality beeswax with bad performance and a bad smell on Amazon. Hope you are able to get yours to work.
Hi Brenda, curious to know what the conclusion was with the beeswax. Please share when you get a chance. Ty!!
Hi! So after making my salves do you recommend a freezer for 30 minutes or refrigerator?
I make some in plastic tubes. Do you think the process is still the same?
Thank you Salve Pro!!
Bridget-Hi! I would do the fridge. And yes, it’s all the same no matter what container you use!