How Fix Grainy or Gritty Shea Butter

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Is it possible to fix grainy or gritty shea butter? This is a question asked by DIY skincare and natural body care creators. In this article you will learn what causes shea butter to become gritty or grainy and how to fix it, so your skincare creations will have a soft, smooth consistency.  

Graininess in shea butter or products made with shea butter is a common problem for the DIY skincare enthusiast. But rest assured there are ways to fix it. 

Is Grainy or Gritty Shea Butter Bad? Is it still useable?

Graininess in shea butter does not mean the shea butter has gone bad. The graininess has more to do with the makeup of shea butter and how it is cooled. 

It is still perfectly useable and melts on contact with the skin. Even though it is not optimal as far as look and feel are concerned, it is doesn't mean you need to throw out or discard the shea butter. It is still good!  

What Causes Shea Butter to Become Gritty or Grainy?

Shea butter has a fairly low melting point, so it melts and softens very easily. If it cools too slowly, it can become grainy.

This is due to the various fatty acids in shea butter melting and cooling and solidifying at different temperatures. 

You see, shea butter is comprised of a  number of different fatty acids. Namely, arachidic acid, lauric acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid.

Each of these has it's own unique melting point, which also means each has a unique temperature at which is solidifies as well. 

When shea butter melts, either on purpose (as in, you are melting it to make a skincare product), or by accident (it melts due to warm temperatures, either during transport or storage) it must then cool and solidify. If it cools too slowly, 

This is really just the separation of fatty acids and doesn’t mean the quality of the shea butter has been compromised.

Smooth unrefined shea butter in homemade skincare


Here are a few steps to prevent shea butter from becoming grainy to fix any graininess or grittiness that has already occurred. 

Solution: Warm in a double-boiler over low heat

A double-boiler allows for even and gentle warming and melting of butters. This is especially helpful when working with shea butter. The evidence of melting via this method instead of other methods (such as the microwave or a cup placed in a pot of hot water) is purely anecdotal. So, give it a try and take it or leave it as you see fit.

However, note that this is not the end solution, as it must be combined with rapid cooling. Cooling speed is the main issue in causing grainy or gritty shea butter.

Solution: Stir while cooling

Shea butter seems to keep a smoother consistency when stirred during the cooling process. But it usually needs to be combined with rapid cooling.

My favorite way to do this is to put the melted butter in an ice bath and stir until it reaches trace then pop in the freezer until completely cool.

Solution: Cool it fast (most important)

When shea butter becomes grainy, melt it over low heat and cool as quickly as possible. Most people like to put it in the freezer or cool in a bowl placed in another bowl filled with ice (like I did with this body butter) in these situations.

Store in a cool place. If your home gets above 75 degrees F, consider storing shea butter in the fridge.

Here is an example of cooling in an ice bath (from the whipped body butter tutorial):
Please excuse the old photo!

What if the shea butter becomes grainy again?

If the shea butter melts again and cools slowly, it could become grainy once more. But just know, the product is still perfectly useable and still contains all the goodness shea butter has to offer.

You can repeat the steps above to fix the grainy shea butter, but know that if t is exposed to heat and is not cooled quickly, there is a good chance the grittiness will return. 

Does it matter if the Shea Butter is refined or unrefined?

In my experience, it makes no difference f the shea butter is refined or unrefined. Both can have the same issue. 

Refined shea butter is generally deodorized so the think, nutty scent does not overpower your homemade products, However, that said, I prefer to use unrefined because I like everything as unrefined as possible. 

Where to buy high-quality shea butter

I always buy my shea butter from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is a great price and excellent quality.

How to Use Shea Butter

She butter works well in lip balm, body butters, hair pomades, and lotion bars.

Here are a few DIY natural body care recipes that use shea butter on this blog:

Want to learn more about Shea Butter and how to use it?

See: How to Use She Butter in Natural Body Care

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Do you have any tricks for fixing grainy shea butter?

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