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How To Avoid Grainy Balms….

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Trouble shooting grainy balmsHave 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.

Until now….

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.

Heating Up:

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?

Cooling Down:

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.  

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

xx, Jenni

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Troubleshooting Grainy Balms

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Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 9 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on how to achieve beautiful skin the natural way.

24 thoughts on “How To Avoid Grainy Balms….”

  1. 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!!

    1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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!!

  5. Hello , I’m 14 years old and i’ve recently started my own chapstick brand called hyrdation4me! I ran into this problem so many times that I felt like giving up, but because of this article I have a change in heart. Do I have to heat the water to 175 for , or heat the lip balm until it reaches 175 then leave it for 20 minutes? After that do I just dump the other products in , stir, add cooldown products, then freeze?

    1. Dhaniah-Hi! I’m so sorry to take so long to respond! I hope you have still had a change of heart and want to continue!! Yes, you need to heat the butter up to 175, not the water. Leave it there for 20 minutes. You don’t need to heat the entire balm, just the butters since they are the culprit usually for graininess. Yes, once your butter has been thoroughly heated and held for 20 minutes, add the rest of your ingredients, allow them to melt, add your cool down products then stick in the fridge or freeze for 30 minutes once you’ve poured them in their containers. Hope this helps!!

  6. Very helpful info here. Your method worked on a prior batch that had shea and beeswax thp i redid the bstch over hot water and put into clean hars then cooled quick. However another batch that had beeswax and other oils also got grainy (no shea/mango). Must be the beeswax but was a good quality. I worry if I reheat in the jars – they’ll crack when the go in the fridge. Any thoughts?

    1. Lois-I’ve found beeswax can sometimes be the culprit too. I haven’t had that issue but it sure is a valid concern. I feel like they wouldn’t crack in the fridge since it’s not an immediate jolt of cold like a freezer might be or even cold water. I’m not sure though.

  7. I appreciate all the great information that you provided, I was having that problem with my balms too but will try your method. Thank you!

  8. I read above you didnt think the bees wax was the issue. I think it had to be because i did a vicks like rub with 1/4 cup bees wax to 1 cup caster oil. It was totally melted and its grainy. Im going to try reheating aas you suggested 🤞

  9. Thank you so much!
    I had 20 jars of salve, all grainy….found this post followed the directions and it worked great! So relieved! I planned to give as gifts for Christmas and thought I had lost the whole batch!

  10. THANK YOU! I’ve been struggling with grainy salves and not been able to remedy it. I have a small business that makes salves and it’s been so disheartening. Thank you so much for explaining this issue so clearly!

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