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A strange break down in my cleansing balm

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Hello! 👋


I've been formulating a cleansing balm that comes out fine and works nicely, but something about its trip through the mail system causes the entire thing becomes this irreversibly unseparated-but-soupy consistency that never hardens back up. As I'm used to this kind of thing simply being a matter of letting it "cool down and firm back up", I'm suspicious of some soft of chemical breakdown.


My recipe ratios:

49.00% Capri Triglyceride
14.00% Oliwax
8.00% Shea Butter
8.00% E-Wax
6.00% Polysorbate 80
5.00% Stearic Acid
3.00% Olivem
3.00% Kaolin Clay
2.00% Cera Bellina Wax
0.75% Vitamin E Oil (tocopherol)
0.75% Optiphen
0.50% Fragrance


I have a heated phase that I hold for 20 to kill microbes in the Kaolin Clay, then I stick blend it in an ice bath down to ~120f before adding the cooldown phase (Vit E Oil, Optiphen and Fragrance) to stick blend until it gets to a light trace. In little 4oz tubs, it takes around 12 hours for it to completely set, and then it keeps very well for going on 6+ months.


But the breakdown issue cropped up when I sent a couple test-tubs to some family members. It was like, 80f tops outside during its time in transit (I realize it can get hotter in warehouses/trucks), but both tubs reached their destination leaking. And what hadn't leaked out was unseparated-but-soupy and it never resolidified!


I'm back to the drawing board and clearly have a couple new metrics to test against, but in the meantime, does anyone have any experience with this or any advice? My Oliwax's INCI is "Hydrogenated Olive Oil (and) Olive Oil (Olea Europaea) (and) Olive Oil Unsaponifiables", and it's my first time working with a "pseudo-wax", so I'm concerned something is causing it to break down to a liquid state? (Assuming that's even possible.) Maybe it's the Optiphen? Again, the product seems to be fine until it's been through the mail system, so I assume it's either that it was agitated or that it melted and started some reaction.


Thank you for any help you can offer! 🙏


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You don’t have any high temp waxes or ingredients in that formula. It will break down. Reforms late and test with containers outside and a mailbox. You need to add harder butters and waxes. Carnauba, cocoa, or mango butter. Reduce the top ingredient and up percentage of harder ingredients. There is a happy place with making balms for summer and winter and you must test in both types of weather.

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I would look into polymers. And other more powerful emulsifiers.  Some, like e-wax will likely coalesce when heated and cooled at room temp.  I learned that the hard way. It feels gritty when that happens and the product never returns to solid properly.  Every ingredient in your blend has a different melt point and congeal point.  You need something to keep it all in Suspension. The clay could also be problematic. The heating and separation is likely also challenging your preservative system. 

investigate the ingredient lists for products in your target and see what they use.


stability testing is a really important step to formulating.  Both freeze/thaw and melt/cool produce different issues.  

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In all my efforts to get good rinse-off, I forgot to make sure the ingredients would even have heat tolerance 😂

And I'll be adding stress testing to my process, for sure.


Thank you both! 🙏

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Sorry haha just read my response was typing on iPad in sun. Reformulate! It’s good to do now you can let your balm sit outside and see how it reacts to heat. I would reduce Capri triglyceride and replace with softer and harder butters, add harder wax.

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Testing is the most brutal part. In different seasons, Mail one to a friend with a return label. Open that package up when it comes back and learn loads. 

If you sell at craft shows or similar in person events where temperature and humidity can change, that is an eye opener too.  Often products dislike changes of temp from car to table and back to car and then inside house. I had to reformulate entire product lines when selling at outdoor summer faires. The environment was not kind to the products ranging from 110+*F to 90% humidity to cold and rainy or tornado storms all in a span of a weekend. My stuff had to withstand all of it. Frustrating, but I learned a LOT from the ruined work. 

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