Why is the produced body butter not smooth, but full of "grits"?

Why is the produced body butter not smooth, but full of "grits"?
You made a flawless body butter, mixed an ointment with a trowel or enjoyed a lip balm. Everything is great, the skin is happy! BUT… after a few days you find that the smooth preparation is no longer smooth as it should have been, but instead is full of some kind of coarse grit or even looks like oatmeal?More information
Ingredients for this recipeCosmetic butter
You can buy the individual ingredients right below the procedure

You are not alone. It's common, it happens to both novice and experienced makers. Why does it happen, how to prevent it and how to fix it if necessary?

What is the semolina and how do I know that there is a mistake somewhere?

If you are asking yourself this question, everything has probably always gone according to plan! We usually notice grit or even lumps in butters, balms or ointments with the naked eye - it resembles small white beads or, in some cases, also mold (which could not grow in the anhydrous product). And when we use such a product, we definitely know that something has gone wrong. Instead of a smooth, silky feeling on the skin, we can feel sand, flour or the mentioned semolina, which, although it disappears after heating and thorough rubbing, but still, the application is not pleasant.

Attention: If you observe visible dull solid opaque pieces in a liquid oil mixture instead of a solid product (butter, balm, ointment), the problem is more likely to be an unreasonably high melting temperature of the butters during production. The semolina we are talking about in this article is in solid compact products .

Whose fault is it?

Definitely not yours. Shea butter is the culprit in 95 percent of cases. And be careful, sometimes shea butter hides in other ingredients where you don't expect it - for example in olive butter, avocado butter or nut butter - and it can cause problems even when using these butters.

Shea butter can do many things and therefore forms the basis of many products. The ones that are most often subject to flaking or flouriness are the already mentioned body butters (whipped and unwhipped), ointments, lip balms or other anhydrous products containing shea butter or other soft butter (what is soft butter?) in any form.

Why did it happen?

The product is floury because it was not cooled properly during production or because it softened or even completely melted in a warm environment (for example, in the sun in summer or in a purse placed near a heater) and then solidified in conditions that are far from ideal.

The fats we work with in the production of homemade cosmetics are made up of different fatty acids that have different properties, abilities and effects on the skin. Liquid fats, i.e. oils, are made up mainly of fatty acids with a low melting point - that's why oils are normally liquid at room temperature. Solid fats, i.e. butters, consist mainly of fatty acids with a higher melting point - that's why butters are solid at normal temperatures.

When mixing cosmetics, we usually mix butters with oils, fats formed by fatty acids with different melting temperatures. We heat them all at once and then cool them down to form a homogeneous mixture.

Sometimes, unfortunately, fats with a higher melting point decide to combine only with "buddies" of similar properties and simply solidify before other fats in the mixture that need a lower temperature to solidify. In our product, this will manifest itself in hard, sandy, mealy or semolina pieces or lumps and a different consistency than expected - because everything is not connected and united and does not work as it should.

So what about that?

The simplest and most reliable rescue is careful and very gentle re-heating of the mixture. In a water bath. At low temperatures. That's important.

We heat it very gently - it is enough to remove the grits, and in addition, the heat does not degrade vitamin E, essential oils or fragrances or other substances used that do not like heat.

So: Prepare a water bath, scrape all the (semolina) mixture into a heat-resistant bowl with thicker walls and let it heat at a low temperature so that the water in the water bath does not bubble, but only forms steam. If you are going to whip, choose a container well. Stir the mixture in the bowl, trying to break up any lumps. The whole heating process does not take long, because everything will melt faster than when it was originally made.

Once about 90% of the mixture is dissolved, remove the bowl and keep stirring (the rest will "run out"). When everything is liquid, let the mixture cool in the right way so that we do not have semolina or lumps again.

Correct method of cooling (during primary and emergency production)

It depends on what we are producing, but if we dare to generalize something, it is that proper cooling takes place with at least partial movement (= stirring, whipping, mixing). By keeping the mixture moving as it cools, we make it much easier for the fatty acids to connect with all their friends.

The most proven method of cooling and the appropriate time for pouring into the package (during primary and rescue production)

When to pour the mixture into the container? When we create a so-called track. For most formulations, this is a great time to transfer them to the containers in which we want to store the product.

Even while the mixture is heating up on the stove in a water bath, prepare an ICE BATH = throw a few ice cubes into a pot or a large bowl and pour cold water over them.

When the heated mixture is liquid, remove the dish from the hot water bath and allow it to cool for a few minutes, stirring constantly, so that the thermal shock does not cause the dish to crack, then transfer the dish to the ice bath. Keep stirring the mixture and regularly wipe the faster-setting mixture around the sides of the bowl. A silicone spatula works very well for this. If you feel that the mixture is solidifying too quickly, remove it from the ice bath, stir for a while on the line, and then slide it back into the ice bath.

Keep stirring until the mixture is stiff enough to form a mark - you can tell when you lift the spatula and some of the butter drips onto the surface of the mixture, leaving a visible trail on it for a while - it's similar to making pudding and pouring it into the bowl.

As soon as we see the trace, we can pour into the selected containers.

Tip: If you add mica powders or other loose additives to the product, pour them into the mixture only after creating a trail - they will mix much better and will not form lumps!

Poured over and ready for complete solidification, we either leave it on the line or put it in the fridge - it depends on the formulation we are making, and it is worth trying. In most cases, however, it is true that body butters prefer to be refrigerated, ointments to cool down at room temperature.

If you are making or saving whipped butter, whip according to the instructions HERE or leave the mixture in the fridge to harden completely and whip again in an ice water bath.

How to prevent semolina in butters, ointments, balms in the future?

Follow proper cooling and decanting procedures as described above. And don't give up, on the contrary! No scientist fell from the sky, and the more homemade products you make, the better your eye will be for estimating the ideal trace and solidification temperature. It is also good to follow the conditions, procedures and instructions as they are given - they are tested. :)

Pay attention to the correct storage methods. Take care of your products - do not leave them in direct sunlight, in a hot car or in a bag near the heater. If you let them melt, they will reciprocate by hardening as they please… which is usually not the way you want.

Rephrase the wording. Soft butters, and especially shea butter, are prone to clumping. If you are having trouble with them, try changing them. Adding wax to the recipe can sometimes help too!

We wish for as little semolina in the products as possible!

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