Shea Butter and Other Vegetable Butters: How to Avoid Crystallization/Graininess When Melting
Crystallization occurs when a vegetable butter melts, either intentionally or accidentally during warm conditions, and then cools back down too slowly.
During transit, vegetable butters can melt or partially melt. As they re-cool, some butters, most particularly Shea Butter, can crystallize or become grainy. This does not impact the quality or usability of the butters. Most of our customers are artisans and personal care manufacturers that melt vegetable butters for incorporation into personal care products. The grainy texture only affects those customers that have the desire to use the butters right out of the jar (see the below comment on Butter Packaging).
To eliminate crystallization, carefully heat your butter to the point where it fully melts. We recommend using a double boiler, and we discourage use of a microwave. Most butters melt at 113°F (45°C). You do not want to overheat the butter as that makes it harder to cool it down properly, but some experts recommend continuing to heat the butter at just above the melting point for a few extra minutes. For Shea Butter, we recommend heating it to 175°F (80°C) and allowing it to remain heated at this temperature for 20 minutes.
Just like with culinary baking/cooking, you may need to experiment to find out what works best with your equipment.
Immediately pour the butter into your desired container(s) and then place in the freezer (recommended) or refrigerator for rapid cool down. If you can, have the jars that you plan to use sitting on a cooking sheet, and use the cookie sheet to simultaneously transfer all the jars into the the freezer or refrigerator quickly. Once your butters have cooled to room temperature, they can be removed from the freezer or refrigerator.
About Our Vegetable Butter Packaging: Our butters are packaged in airtight plastic containers, not retail packaging. We are a wholesale supplier, and most of our customers use our butters in their product formulations. Butters can sometimes melt during transit, and these containers help ensure that the butters don't leak. For a selection of glass and plastic easy-open jars that are wonderful to use in conjunction with our butters, look to our Packaging section.