Tips for a Perfect Melt and Pour Balm

Some formulas have so few ingredients and such a simple production method it's hard to imagine they can go wrong.

But they can.

Sometimes, 'less' can feel like it equals 'more problems' and drive you to the edge of frustration.

If you make any kind of melt and pour product, you're probably nodding already.

Melt and pour balms and butters can be a joy and a curse.

I'll Bet I've Seen 'em All

I truly believe I have experienced every possible and impossible type of melt-and-pour fail it is conceivable to make.
  • mixture doesn't set
  • separation of ingredients – immediately
  • separation of ingredients – after a short time
  • separation of ingredients – after a long time
  • morphing into a thick grainy porridge (after a day - 2 days  - a week - 4 months)
  • morphing into a thin grainy porridge (after a day - 2 days  - a week - 4 months)
  • setting only on the top (revealing a layer of slush as soon as you dip into it)
  • Migration of ingredients to the bottom and setting only on the bottom
I could go on..

Why does this happen?

Because of butter non-synergy-diva-ness (that's a term I just made up)

Here's what I mean:
Every melt and pour balm is different - even if it is made with the same ingredients.
(that last part is important)

I am not going to get technical about the fatty acid composition of every butter today, but here are the headlines:
  • Some butters require special handling
  • Some butters will only play nice with selected other ingredients
  • Some butters will only play nice with certain handling methods
  • Some butters will only play nice with certain temperatures
  • And some butters are such impossible divas they refuse to play nice with anything else unless you sing to them and wave a magic wand over them while dancing naked
(ok that last one was a titch exaggerated)

LisaLise Tips for Melt and Pour Balm Perfection

Now, I wish I could give you the be-all, end-all, ultimate guide to 100% supreme balm perfection, but there are too many factors involved to make a fail-safe cheat sheet.

I can, however, give you my best general tips for attaining melt and pour perfection, and here they are:
  • Melt the ingredients with highest melt point first (waxes, then hard butters, etc)
  • Melt slowly over low heat (bain marie or directly on a heat source where you can control the temperature)
  • Be vigilant about keeping moisture out of the mixture if you use the bain marie method
  • Know the temperature of the balm at all times (use a thermometer)
  • Monitor the mixture constantly
  • Cool the mixture slowly
  • Stir slowly and gently as the mixture cools
  • Stir until trace, then pour up
  • Place lid on jar after the balm reaches room temperature to avoid condensation
Hopefully these tips will help you achieve smooth buttery perfection!


Do Tell

Do you ever have trouble with your melt and pour balms? What do you do to alleviate the problems?  Please share in a comment below!


Monika said…
Tgank you very much! Shea butter is a diva. I would like to make a balm with shea, beeswax and fractionted coconut oil. What would be a good balance of them in a recipe? Right now the balm becomes grainy, ashy, and cracks Open in some places.
LisaLise said…
Hi Monika - You are most welcome and you are absolutely right about shea butter being the ultimate diva. If your balm is cracking it could be due to the way it is cooling (too fast?). The grains could also be due to cooling method.. If you heat slowly and cool slowly you might see a difference. I'd start with that before tweaking proportions
Jackie said…
Loving the informative and entertaining... i love unrefined Shea butter...but I was under the impression it had to be put in an ice bath and then into the fridge at room temperature. This will make my life a lot easier...thanks ��
LisaLise said…
HI Jackie - Some people find this method works well for them and some have better success with a slower cooling process. Because shea is a natural ingredient, it is impossible to say all sheas are created equal and will arrive at the doorstep of every customer in exactly the same condition. It doesn't, and that makes for all kinds of 'fun' challenges.
Anonymous said…
Hello! Thank you for all the tips! 😊
The issue I’ve been having with my homemade balms is oil sweating when the balm is left to cool. Why does this occur and is there anything I can do to prevent it from happening?
Thank you! 😊
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon — Without knowing your entire process I would guess you are not stirring long enough before pouring up or the temp of your containers is too different (cooler or warmer) than the temp of the balm when you are pouring up. Also — no lid until the balm is fully cool. Hope this helps!
Anonymous said…
Hello I’m getting streaks once poured into the jar the jar is frosted so the inconsistencies show through I think it’s due to
the butters and waxes cooling at different temperatures but I’m not sure

I’m using carnuba wax melting it completely then adding the butters and melting that
Im then removing from heat and adding the oils mixing well
Once cooked down to 40-50 degrees I add the third phase
which is my hibiscus extract , a specialized oil the vitamin e and rosemary
extract plus a small amount of red clay , following that adding in the essential oils
and pouring

Not sure what’s going wrong

Any advice ? Thanks
LisaLise said…
HI Anon - My first question is what is the solvent used in your hibiscus extract? If it is a water soluble extract. then it could very well be separating from the rest of the oil based ingredients. The other possibility is that the clay is not evenly dispersed.
Anonymous said…
Hi. Thanks for the article. Great read! I make a balm with castor, jojoba and hemp oil and beeswax. I have challenges with it forming craters when it cools. Any suggestions as to how to make these forming?
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - those craters can be frustrating! They are caused when the mixture cools unevenly (which almost can't be avoided with some containers). To avoid craters, try to match up the temp of the container and mixture when you are pouring up. Best of luck with it!
Dillon Stone said…
What to do with the circle cracking in my balms? Any help would be great
LisaLise said…
Hi Dillon- This can happen when you pour up too hot and if there is a large temperature difference between the containers and the contents.
Anonymous said…
Hi! New to your website and just subscribed to newsletter. Thx for all the info! Can waxes and oils balm (no butters) be poured when liquid? Trace reduces flow and results in goopiness fairly quickly for me.
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon- thanks for your kind words! Yes, waxes and oils can be poured liquid--- mind you, some vegan waxes can set up unevenly if not stirred long enough