What is this on my lotion bars? (Kind of freaking out!)

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josianeg

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Hi! I've been making lotion bars for a while using this recipe:

31% white beeswax
21% cocoa butter
13% mango butter
35% grapeseed oil

Because I was looking for an oil with longer shelf life than grapeseed but with similar qualities, I recently switched to apricot kernels seed oil.

Also, I tweaked my recipe a little to make the lotion bars a bit harder without compromising absorption speed, glide and after touch.

Here is my current recipe:

31% white beeswax
22.5% cocoa butter
13.5% mango butter
33% apricot kernels seed oil

To melt the wax and butters, I put all the ingredients in a Pyrex measuring cup sitting in a saucepan full of boiling water on the stovetop (once the water has boiled, I turn the heat to low so it doesn't splash into the lotion).

I then add micas and 0.5-2% fragrance oils or essential oils. The lotion bars below where made using 1.5% FOs from Nurture Soap.

I pour the lotion into my handmade macaron shaped silicon molds and usually put these in the freezer so the bars harden faster. I'm almost certain the bars below where put in the freezer.

The only issue I had had up to now was hairline "cracks" below the surface on some bars (cosmetic issue). I only had this happen a few times and I'm not sure what causes this... maybe keeping yhe molds in the freezer for too long?

Anyway, I was looking at the lotions bars I made on November 14th and noticed that they have something on them.

Being a microbiologist I first thought of microbial growth (bacterial or fungal) so I was really freaking out, but after closer inspection, it looks like... crystals? They kind of remind me of snowflakes.

I did some reading here and saw that some butters can crystallize, is this what is happening here?

Any idea what the culprit might be and how do prevent this?

I don't always buy my ingredients from the same suppliers, but that never turned out to be an issue in the past... When the pink bars were made, I was using:

- white beeswax from my usual local supplier (never had issues)
- cocoa butter either from my local supplier (never had issues) or New Directions Aromatics
- organic mango butter from Mary Tylor Naturals (never had issues)
- apricot kernels oil from New Directions Aromatics

Will it affect the usability or shelf life of the bars, or is it just cosmetic (I take so much time and care to make the bars realistic and pretty, it's still very disappointing)?

Thank you for your help!

(In the pictures the "crystals" are more visible on the pink bars but the issue also affects the green and orange bars which use different micas and FOs).
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ResolvableOwl

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Reasonably pure cocoa butter, or CB that is only blended with CBE (cocoa butter equivalent oils, like mango/illipe butter or palm mid-fraction) can be “tempered” to calm down fat bloom and delay graininess. But liquid oils (apricot kernel, grapeseed…) are so-called “incompatible” oils, and will invariably lead to some kind of weird crystallisation when mixed with CB. :(
I cannot say if the beeswax plays any role here, but I suspect it can't magically mask this inherent property of vegetable butters.
 

TheGecko

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Any idea what the culprit might be and how do prevent this?
It's most likely the cocoa butter...needs to be tempered (melted slowly). I make my Lotion Bars with Beeswax, Cocoa and Shea Butters. I start with my Beeswax over a low heat because it takes the longest. When it's about halfway melted, I add in my Cocoa Butter...when it's about three-quarters done, I turn off the heat and add my Shea Butter in small chunks and stir until melted. Then I add my scent and arrowroot and pour into my silicone molds that I have freshly washed, rinsed with hot water to warm them up and dried. It let them sit for about 15 minutes and then pop them in the frig for about 30 minutes. This gives me time to clean up and start the next batch. After popping them out of the molds, I use my blow dryer (or you can use a heat gun) to warm the molds back up and then pour the next batch.

Will it affect the usability or shelf life of the bars, or is it just cosmetic (I take so much time and care to make the bars realistic and pretty, it's still very disappointing)?
No...it's just cosmetic. You should be able to mitigate it with a bit of heat...blow dryer, heat gun.
 

josianeg

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I think no matter what you do it will most likely happen at some point unless they are stored differently. It's part of what cocoa butter does
They were stored for less than 2 weeks... Any recommendations on how to store them? You say "unless they are stored differently".

Reasonably pure cocoa butter, or CB that is only blended with CBE (cocoa butter equivalent oils, like mango/illipe butter or palm mid-fraction) can be “tempered” to calm down fat bloom and delay graininess. But liquid oils (apricot kernel, grapeseed…) are so-called “incompatible” oils, and will invariably lead to some kind of weird crystallisation when mixed with CB. :(
I cannot say if the beeswax plays any role here, but I suspect it can't magically mask this inherent property of vegetable butters.
I don't remember grapeseed doing this. What do you mean by "incompatible"?
 

ResolvableOwl

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“Incompatible” is a technical term from chocolate manufacturers, and essentially means how it sounds: Don't bring this in touch with chocolate, otherwise it might probably bloom/not harden up properly/go crazy in other weird ways. Important for the food industry (they're rather paranoid than sorry to throw away a whole truck of glazed biscuits), and hobbyists can learn from their knowledge.
 

josianeg

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It's most likely the cocoa butter...needs to be tempered (melted slowly). I make my Lotion Bars with Beeswax, Cocoa and Shea Butters. I start with my Beeswax over a low heat because it takes the longest. When it's about halfway melted, I add in my Cocoa Butter...when it's about three-quarters done, I turn off the heat and add my Shea Butter in small chunks and stir until melted. Then I add my scent and arrowroot and pour into my silicone molds that I have freshly washed, rinsed with hot water to warm them up and dried. It let them sit for about 15 minutes and then pop them in the frig for about 30 minutes. This gives me time to clean up and start the next batch. After popping them out of the molds, I use my blow dryer (or you can use a heat gun) to warm the molds back up and then pour the next batch.

No...it's just cosmetic. You should be able to mitigate it with a bit of heat...blow dryer, heat gun.
What do you mean by "over a low heat" and "I turn off the heat"?
You are not using some kind of "double boiler" to melt your ingredients?
As I said, once the water has been brought to boiling point I turn down the heat to the lowest setting.
Even if I turned the heat off the water would remain really warm.
We had a 30 minutes power outage and I was surprised that the lotion sitting in the water hadn't started hardening.
What you saying about warming up your molds is interesting...
Sometimes mine are still very cold (from coming out of the freezer) when I pour the lotion. I didn't think that could have an impact, but tonight I'll try to do this and see if it makes any difference.
Also you wait 15 minutes before putting the lotions in the fridge...
Maybe the problem is not so much the speed at which I'm heating the CB, but rather that I'm lowering its temperature too fast (and using the freezer rather than the fridge).
I'm worried to try the blow dryer or heat gun method to try to get rid of them. My lotions bars have very intricate details so any melting would be devastating.
At least I'm happy I'll be able to reassure people that the crystals are only cosmetic. I thought it might be the case, but I didn't want to tell them unless I was 100% sure.
What is arrowroot and what purpose does it serve?

Thanks

“Incompatible” is a technical term from chocolate manufacturers, and essentially means how it sounds: Don't bring this in touch with chocolate, otherwise it might probably bloom/not harden up properly/go crazy in other weird ways. Important for the food industry (they're rather paranoid than sorry to throw away a whole truck of glazed biscuits), and hobbyists can learn from their knowledge.
Thanks, I'll have to read up on this... Are there any oils that ARE compatible with CB?
 

ResolvableOwl

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Well, I'm not that deep into this topic. The food industry knows CBE, CBR and CBS (CB equivalents, replacers, and substitutes) along their varying compatibility with the crystal structure of cocoa butter. I have literally zero idea how this transfers to cosmetics. I could do some research, but you could just as well. Maybe someone experienced with CB in lotion bars can tune in. (I'm just the humble chocolate savant, no more no less)
 

TheGecko

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What do you mean by "over a low heat" and "I turn off the heat"? You are not using some kind of "double boiler" to melt your ingredients?
I just melt it directly on the burner.

What you saying about warming up your molds is interesting...
Got it from Karen at Eden Secret. She uses a heat gun to warm up her silicone molds for her wax melts and I figured it couldn't hurt and I haven't had any weird 'bloom'.

Also you wait 15 minutes before putting the lotions in the fridge... Maybe the problem is not so much the speed at which I'm heating the CB, but rather that I'm lowering its temperature too fast (and using the freezer rather than the fridge).
Originally I waited as it made it easier to move them without spilling. Then it made sense to let them cool before putting them in because I didn't want to chance them cracking from the temperature change.

I'm worried to try the blow dryer or heat gun method to try to get rid of them. My lotions bars have very intricate details so any melting would be devastating.
Yeah, that could be a problem. You could also just remelt them. I've done that before, I had a couple of dozen that had completely lost their scent and so I just tossed them in the pot and added a stronger scent.

What is arrowroot and what purpose does it serve?
The thing about Lotion Bars' is that they aren't actually 'lotion'...they are most butters with a bit of wax and oil so they can be a bit 'greasy. Arrowroot, you can also use cornstarch or tapioca, make them a little less greasy. I also found out (by accident) that if I 'cure' my bars for a few weeks, it also cuts down on the greasy.
 

josianeg

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Well, I'm not that deep into this topic. The food industry knows CBE, CBR and CBS (CB equivalents, replacers, and substitutes) along their varying compatibility with the crystal structure of cocoa butter. I have literally zero idea how this transfers to cosmetics. I could do some research, but you could just as well. Maybe someone experienced with CB in lotion bars can tune in. (I'm just the humble chocolate savant, no more no less)
Hi,

That's OK. I was asking in case you knew. I'll do my own research. Thanks

I just melt it directly on the burner.

Got it from Karen at Eden Secret. She uses a heat gun to warm up her silicone molds for her wax melts and I figured it couldn't hurt and I haven't had any weird 'bloom'.
Originally I waited as it made it easier to move them without spilling. Then it made sense to let them cool before putting them in because I didn't want to chance them cracking from the temperature change.
Yeah, that could be a problem. You could also just remelt them. I've done that before, I had a couple of dozen that had completely lost their scent and so I just tossed them in the pot and added a stronger scent.
The thing about Lotion Bars' is that they aren't actually 'lotion'...they are most butters with a bit of wax and oil so they can be a bit 'greasy. Arrowroot, you can also use cornstarch or tapioca, make them a little less greasy. I also found out (by accident) that if I 'cure' my bars for a few weeks, it also cuts down on the greasy.
Thanks for your reply. My recipe is non greasy enough as is (IMO and according to people who have used my bars), but I'll keep arrowroot in mind just in case.

I couldn't just remelt my bars, as their design in very intricate (that's a big part of their appeal, people often mistake them for real macarons from the pictures).

Making them is very time-consuming (I have to pour them in layers, which is why I appreciated the freezer... but I'll be more patient from now on) but I'm very proud of my little creations.
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The Efficacious Gentleman

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I want to eat them! They do look gorgeous.

But by storing them differently, I think it would be in a way which isn't really feasible, especially if you wanted to actually use one - vacuum sealing might delay it a while, but it would only start up again when unsealed.

I do think your best option is to either accept it or look at the other suggestions made.
 

TheGecko

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I couldn't just remelt my bars, as their design in very intricate (that's a big part of their appeal, people often mistake them for real macarons from the pictures).
They are gorgeous for sure, but you can still remelt them...put like colors together, pour new centers if they are different.

Since they can be mistaken for food, are you including a warning on your packages that they are NOT food? I can't remember who here had a potential issue with a customer who bought their Marshmallow Soap and then let their kid eat it. Threatened so sue, but the package was clearly labeled as SOAP. I know in the UK/EU, you can't have non-food items that look like food. The US doesn't have any rules, but folks are pretty sue happy around here which is why I quit putting Walnut Shells even though I have it labeled in a bright red, bold font that it contained nut shells...some lady with nut allergies almost bought it because she didn't actually READ the label.
 

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