Shea butter crystallization; why does shea butter become grainy or crystallize?

The crystallization of Shea butter is a concern for many of us making home cosmetics. Vegetable butters are very popular in preparation of home cosmetics. It is easy to make completely additive free cosmetics by using vegetable butter. The vegetable butter will solidify at room temperature. You can use them to solidify liquid oils.


Vegetable butters are also easy to use. You can heat them up in a water boiler and mix with liquid oils. Is there easier way to make cosmetics? However, vegetable butter is sometimes very temperamental. Although everything looks good at the beginning, your final product is far from planned. Now, let’s take a look how to avoid crystallization of vegetable butter.

Vegetable butter is also easy to use.

They can be thawed in a water bath and mixed with running oils. Can make cosmetics easier. However, plant butter is sometimes very whimsical. Although everything looks good at the beginning, a lipstick or lotion is not what you were supposed to. Next, I will tell you how to avoid crystallization of plant butter.

The problem with vegetable butter products; crystallization of shea butter

Typical products made by vegetable butters are body and lip balms. Have you ever noticed a strange grainy composition of a product? Roughness disappears as soon as the product melts on the skin. However, that doesn’t feel nice. In hard fats, crystallization can sometimes occur. It does not diminish the quality of the vegetable butter, but lumps do not feel pleasant on the skin.

Why does vegetable butter crystallize?

Vegetable butter responds to sudden temperature changes. When melting shea butter first and then cooling it down quickly to a solid form, it may become grainy. The lumps do not weaken the quality of the vegetable butter.

Sometimes granulation occurs during transport. Then the butter is already in the grainy when you buy it. It is not a problem if you know how to fix it. On the other hand, you can, of course, return the product and claim your money back.

Which vegetable butter will get granular?

In principle, all vegetable butters can become granular if melted first and then immediately cooled back to solid. Most commonly this happens to the familiar shea butter. Mango butter also gently granulates. For these two butters, I recommend the following procedure, every time you make cosmetics from them.

How do I get my vegetable butter back smooth?

The crystallized vegetable butter is restored to a smooth form by a process called tempering. You may have heard of tempering when talking about melting chocolate. This is really the same thing. Chocolate acts the same way like vegetable butters when melted and cooled down again.

The tempering is done as follows


Crystallization of shea butter; how to fix?

  • Put the vegetable butter in a double boiler/dual melting pot
  • Let the vegetable butter to melt very smoothly to liquid form
  • Then raise the temperature of the vegetable butter to 80 degrees (175 F) and keep it there for about 20 minutes.
  • Now you can pour melted vegetable butter into jars or lipstick moulds.
  • Cool down the vegetable butter quickly in the refrigerator

When bottling vegetable butter products, always choose a small pack. Leave the lids open until the balm has really cooled down to room temperature. Leave free space around jars so do not place them next to each other. This allows the jars to cool faster.

Move the products to a cool place to cool down.

The fridge is of course the best. If you have made a large number of products at one time, you can cool them down on a balcony or by an open window. If you are cooling the products outdoors, it is advisable to cover them with a thin cloth to avoid any impurities.

Tip: If you have granular products that are already in the jar, do not throw them away. You can still temper them.  Move the content from jars to dual melting pot and follow the tempering instructions.

Essential Oils

Photo Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Although some of the products contain other ingredients as well, such as liquid oils and glycerol, they do not harm anything. The only thing that suffers from tempering is the essential oils. They evaporate during heating. So, in case you want to keep them, you have to add them to the products again as soon as the vegetable butter has cooled down, under 40 degrees Celsius.

I hope that with these guidelines you will be able to produce high quality vegetable butter products. For the most part, vegetable butters really behave nicely. Preparing shea and mango products are also almost always going well. Please save this guide, it is priceless in case you will make a bigger lot of creams from vegetable butters.

You can find more about crystallization of vegetable butter on this site

Have you come across a crystallized butter? How did you fix it?  Please share your experience!

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