What is causing my balm to be grainy after increasing batch size?

Hi There,
I formulated a beautiful lip/multi use balm using 45% organic unrefined mango butter 15% candelilla wax and the remaining % is oils. Everything has been perfect when making 1-3 jars, but I noticed my larger batches (10-15 jars) have turned grainy after about a month or so just sitting out in a room. I did already start selling these so I would prefer to not change my formula by adding any new ingredients, and would love some insight as to why this could be happening and how to remedy this.

My process is I add the mango butter and wax in a beaker that is put in a small saucepan with a couple inches of simmering/boiling water. I let the beaker sit until the wax and butter are melted (stirring to ensure everything is melted), I then add my oil mixture and stir until everything is mixed. I remove the beaker from the saucepan and stir for a bit before filling my jars. My sample jars that never turned grainy were always set out to cool at room temp, and I did the same for the larger batch, but they became grainy.

I've read about stirring until a trace forms before pouring, and putting the filled containers into the freezer for a bit to cool quickly, but how will I actually know if this remedies the problem without waiting months? I did an experiment with various cool down methods, but would appreciate some help understanding why this happened when I increased batch size and what I need to do to prevent this from happening in the future.

Comments

  • CamelCamel Member
    Oils, butters and waxes are composed of multiple fatty acids with different melting points. If you leave a mixture to cool at room temperature, chances are that some of those fatty acids will bond together and re-solidify before the others have a chance to. This will result in a grainy product.

    I believe the product should be continuously mixed until it is cool to prevent this from happening. If you lack the equipment to do this, you could try remelting your grainy batch and then (if the size permits) placing it in an ice-water bath under continuous stirring. This will allow the product to cool quicker and more evenly. 
  • LabLab Member
    As stated above, stirring (and remelting) can be quite effective in this situation. But you can also consider some other approaches:

    - Instead of heating the system until everything seems to melt, make sure it reaches a specific temperature. Research the technical materials for the ingredients you are using to confirm at what temperature each component melts. This is important because when you look at a formulation as it heats up you might think "Ok, everything is melted, let's take off", but some small particles stay and can reassemble after a while. I always use 75ºC as a base for everything that needs heating, but I go higher when a harder ingredient is present, like Carnauba Wax for example.

    - If possible you can also try to heat the container where you will put your batch, just a little to warm up. This heat allows solidification to take place more evenly and prevents the formulation from breaking and showing grain aspect - as everything will be at the same temperature.

    Also, what oils are you using? If you plan on doing the heat approach, make sure you don't go over their limit as well.


  • are you mixing everything correctly in the bigger batch??

    this happened to me with a balm too, I added glyceryl stearate or beeswax to make it homogeneous
  • Larger batches of anhydrous products are ALWAYS going to develop more graininess than smaller batches. Because they take longer to cool.

    Controlled cooling is extremely important with anhydrous products.

    Never ever do a hot pour, always stir until the product starts gaining some viscosity before pouring.

    You can use an ice bath, but I actually prefer to use a cool water bath because the product begins solidifying too quickly in an ice bath, in my experience.

    After pouring, put the products in the refrigerator to set up. I NEVER let my anhydrous products set up at room temperature. The point is quick, controlled, even cooling.

    You are already doing one thing right, adding your oils after melting the wax and butter. This helps with controlled cooling.

    Unfortunately Candellila Wax is one of the more grainy waxes. If you don't want to switch to another wax, try the method I've explained.
  • emma1985 said:
    Larger batches of anhydrous products are ALWAYS going to develop more graininess than smaller batches. Because they take longer to cool.

    Controlled cooling is extremely important with anhydrous products.

    Never ever do a hot pour, always stir until the product starts gaining some viscosity before pouring.

    You can use an ice bath, but I actually prefer to use a cool water bath because the product begins solidifying too quickly in an ice bath, in my experience.

    After pouring, put the products in the refrigerator to set up. I NEVER let my anhydrous products set up at room temperature. The point is quick, controlled, even cooling.

    You are already doing one thing right, adding your oils after melting the wax and butter. This helps with controlled cooling.

    Unfortunately Candellila Wax is one of the more grainy waxes. If you don't want to switch to another wax, try the method I've explained.
    Good to know! I was mind boggled as to why my balms were perfect at room temp in the smaller batch vs the larger one. I definitely need to experiment with stirring until a trace bc I feel sometimes when I get to the end of the batch so much has solidified that I would need to RE-melt and that could affect the formula. I did notice candelilla has a high melting point, do you feel melting that with the mango butter at such a high temperature and then holding wouldn’t effect the properties of the butter or do you think it’s best to melt separately?
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    Your problem is called recrystallization and is common with butters. The answer to this very common problem is simple: add a polyglyceryl fatty acid ester (PEFA) to this formula, preferably a multi ester such as Polyglyceryl -4 Diisostearate or Polyglyceryl-6 Octastearate.  Both are used in food science to avoid the very same problem. IF you cannot get hold of any the next best thing is this "hack": use hydrogenated lecithin. Lends an icky sensorial compared to to the silky one the PEFA contributes, but it usually works.
  • Your problem is called recrystallization and is common with butters. The answer to this very common problem is simple: add a polyglyceryl fatty acid ester (PEFA) to this formula, preferably a multi ester such as Polyglyceryl -4 Diisostearate or Polyglyceryl-6 Octastearate.  Both are used in food science to avoid the very same problem. IF you cannot get hold of any the next best thing is this "hack": use hydrogenated lecithin. Lends an icky sensorial compared to to the silky one the PEFA contributes, but it usually works.
    I have polyglyceryl-3 oleate which i understand isn’t a multi ester, but could it work? How do those ingredients help with preventing recrystallization? I know I need to experiment, but would you be able to give me an idea of a percentage to start off with? 
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