Grainy shea butter is one of the most common issues when making body butters. It's the no.1 question I get asked about body butters, closely followed by "how to make body butter less greasy". Here's why it happens, how you can prevent and easily fix it.
You dip your fingers into what you think is this exquisite fluffy body butter, only to discover that it feels grainy, gritty or sandy. Yup, your body butter has gone grainy on you. It's disappointing, but there are a few ways to prevent it from happening.
Why does body butter become grainy?
The culprit is most often shea butter, although it can happen with mango and cocoa butter as well. You see, shea butter is made up of lots of different types of fatty acids. Each has there own unique melting point. When shea butter is melted and then allowed to cool slowly, fatty acid molecules with similar high melting points will cling together and form little crystals. These crystals are the reason your body butter feels grainy/gritty.
Is body butter still good to use if grainy?
Yes. If you detect grainy bits in your shea butter or body butter, it doesn't mean that it has gone bad. If the bumpy crystally feel doesn't annoy you too much you can keep using it.
How to prevent shea body butter from becoming grainy?
1. Check shea butter before you start using it
Make sure the shea butter that you've bought isn't already grainy to begin with. This can happen if the shea butter sits in a hot delivery truck, gets dropped of at your sunny doorstep and then sits on your countertop for a while. If you detect graininess in your newly bought product proceed to "how to fix" section below.
2. Store body butter in a cool place
If you allow your body butter to melt in warm temperatures and then slowly resolidify you run the risk of it becoming grainy. That can happen in the summertime quite easily. You can store your body butter in the fridge to be on the safe side.
3. Cold process
My preferred method for making whipped body butter is to whip the butter at room temperature without even melting it. This works fantastic with formulations that don't contain any beeswax or brittle butters. That way you don't run the risk of grainy body butter and don't have to worry about the cooling process. I use this method for my whipped body butter and mango body butter - it works great!
4. Use ice bath/ fridge/ freezer
If you you're going to melt the ingredients for your body butter, you need to make sure they cool in a fast controlled manner afterwards. Place your body butter in the fridge or freezer until almost solidified. Then take it out, place it into an ice bath and start whipping. Repeat this process until body butter is entirely cooled.
How to fix grainy body butter?
Once you've detected that your body butter has crystalized you can do the following:
Step 1: Scrape grainy body butter into a small heat resistant glass measuring cup
Step 2: Fill a small saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and set on stove top to medium heat
Step 3: Place measuring cup in the water bath and melt body butter while stirring
Step 4: If you wish to whip it up again, place glass cup in fridge until almost solid and then whip it until white and fluffy, repeat this step until body butter is fully cooled.
Step 4: Pour the body butter back into it's original container, keep the lid open and place in fridge until fully cooled. Seal lid and enjoy your smooth body butter.