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If you’ve been following the blog for some time, you know that I love my lotion bars. I keep a few around, each for a different purpose. My hands need extra TLC during the winter, and the lotion bars do the trick.
But recently, I’ve noticed that many of my lotion bars have become soft—a common problem with lotion bars. So, I thought I’ll walk you through why lotion bars turn soft, how to fix soft lotion bars, and what waxes to include in the formulae.
Why Do Lotion Bars Go Soft?
There is no better lotion bar for your skin than the one you can make yourself. With only a few ingredients and very little time, you can have a custom lotion bar that suits your needs perfectly. Yet, balancing the ratio of ingredients in the formula is the key to getting a lotion bar that is neither soft nor too hard. So why do lotion bars go soft? There are a few reasons for that:
1. You have added too much oil
One of the most common reasons that can cause a lotion bar to go soft is the high amount of oils in the formula. Even though oils offer countless skin benefits, incorporating too much into your recipe will make lotion bars too soft. Only add up to 10%.
2. Exposure to heat
Another factor that can cause a lotion bar to go soft is exposure to heat. If you store the lotion bar in a warm environment, the ingredients can start to melt, causing the bar to become soft and potentially even gooey. Avoid keeping them in direct sunlight, next to a sunny window, in your car, or anywhere expected to be warmer than about 25°C.
3. Hot climate
Some ingredients are more prone to melting than others, which can cause the bar to become soft even when stored at room temperature.
If you live in a hot climate, you must consider the melting point of the ingredients included in the recipe. Butter, the main ingredient in lotion bars, has a relatively low melting point. Take cocoa butter, for instance. The main ingredient in lotion bars has a melting point of 34°C to 38°C. Similarly, mango butter’s melting point can be as low as 30°C.
Tip: If you live in the hot climate, where the summers are scorching hot, I recommend adding wax to your recipe. It will help firm up the lotion bars.
How To Harden Lotion Bars
Now that you understand why lotion bars go soft or melt let’s look at how to fix them.
Remelting lotion bars and adding wax with a medium to high melting point will help firm up lotion bars and keep them solid even in the hot climate. Beeswax, candelilla wax, rice bran and carnauba wax are some of the most popular picks among formulators.
Beeswax: Produced by bees, beeswax is one of the most popular waxes used in lotion bars. This all-natural product has been used throughout the centuries to soothe, soften or protect the skin. Incorporating 10% to 30% of beeswax into lotion bars will also help to prevent them from turning into a gooey mess. Beeswax has a melting point of about 62°C to 64°C (144°F to 147 °F).
Candelilla wax: Derived from the leaves of the candelilla shrub, it is a vegan alternative to beeswax. With a slightly higher melting point of 68.5°C–72.5°C (155.3°F–162.5 °F), candelilla’s higher density and excellent binding properties make it an ideal addition to lotion bars that need to be firm and hold their shape. Use between 10% to 30% in the formula.
Rice bran wax is a conditioning agent with skin protective properties. Derived from rice husks, it has a high melting point of 77°C-86°C (170.6°F-186.8°F). Conditioning with protective properties, rice bran wax leaves the skin feeling smooth and supple. Depending on the ingredients used in lotion bars, you can add anywhere between 5%-10% to your formulae.
Carnauba wax: Also referred to as the “Queen of Waxes”, carnauba wax is obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm Copernicia prunifera. Its hypoallergenic and emollient properties and high melting point (82°C–86°C or 180°F–187°F) make it a highly desirable thickener in lotion bars. A little goes a long way here. Anywhere between 5%-10% should do the trick.
You’ll have to play around with proportions to achieve desirable firmness. Running tests is a great way to find the perfect balance of the wax ratio in the formula. Try varying percentages and see how it affects the bar’s firmness.
How To Prevent Remelted Lotion Bars From Solidifying Too Fast
Working with waxes with a high melting point brings its own challenges. They solidify very quickly, making it difficult to get them to trace, creating graininess in lotion bars.
To prevent them from solidifying too fast, turn the heat off once the wax has melted. Then, while keeping the beaker in the water bath, add melted lotion bars and stir until well combined.
Remove the beaker from the hot water bath and continue stirring until the blend’s temperature drops to about 55°C. At this point, you can pour the mixture into moulds.
How Do You Keep Lotion Bars From Going Soft?
Adding a sufficient amount of wax to your lotion bars should prevent them from getting soft. However, if you aren’t keen on adding wax to your lotion bars, here are a few quick tips to prevent them from melting.
- Sealed jars or tins are perfect for storing lotion bars. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
- Avoid keeping lotion bars next to a sunny window, in your car, or anywhere expected to be too warm.
- If you live in a hot climate, store lotion bars in the fridge.
Using too much oil and soft butter in the formula will make the lotion bars too soft. Adding wax to your recipe will provide lotion bars with the necessary firmness.
Can I remelt lotion bars?
Absolutely. If you find your lotion bars too soft, you can remelt them. However, remember many lotion bars contain heat-sensitive ingredients, so don’t overheat them in a double boiler.
How long for lotion bars to harden?
I like to allow my lotion bars to set overnight. I found cooling them too quickly in the fridge can shock the ingredients and create graininess in lotion bars.