Friday, May 9, 2014

Shea Butter! There not all created equal!

What is Shea Butter?
It is an all-natural product. It can be slightly yellowish or ivory colored and nutty, smoky scented natural fatty substance made from the nuts of karite nut trees (Butyrospermum parkii or "butter seed") also call the tree of life. It grows wild in the savannah regions of West and East Africa.  It is a triglyceride (fat) derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid.

How is it made?
The shea nuts are picked, cracked, grilled and pounded to extract the butter which is then boiled in water until the fresh shea butter rises to the surface. It is then scooped into gourds and left to cool and set. Although these artisanal methods result in smaller output, no chemicals or synthetic agents are needed at any stage. Shea butter may also be extracted by pressing in an expeller type press which cuts 3-5 hours off the extraction time. Again, no chemicals or synthetics are needed. The end product of either method is raw unrefined shea butter!

Types of Shea Butter?
Raw unrefined-  Has not been passed through any filtering systems using clays, chemicals or other methods that would remove or deplete or reduce the vitamin content or otherwise change its natural properties.  This includes attempts to remove the natural nutty aroma, change the color or texture, add chemicals to or remove qualities or properties from the shea butter.  This does NOT include passing the shea butter through the cheesecloth filter to remove nut skins.  This is raw shea butter that has been processed but done so without changing its healing properties.

Naturally refined shea butter- can be naturally refined.  In this process raw shea nut butter is melted and "washed" with water.  The melted butter and water mixture is transferred to a vacuum reactor where air, and steam removes the odor.  Next, melted shea butter is mixed with diatomaceous earth, to remove most of the color, before being filtered by pressing through several layers of paper and cloth.

Ultra refined shea butter- can be processed with chemical solvents (hexane) and bleach, to produce shea butter that is pure white, with no odor.  However almost all vitamins and nutrients are lost, and the chemical processing diminishes or destroys the natural qualities of shea butter. 

Which is the right color for Shea Butter?
There are different reasons for the different shades of Shea Butter!
1. Can be the season in which the shea nut are harvested.
2.  How the shea nut is extracted and processed. 
3. If it was boiled too long or mixed too long may be lighter
4. If its boiled and mixed for short time it more greenish or darker yellow.
5. They have said that during the  milling process of the yellow shea butter, a root from the borututu tree is added to the mixture which gives it that turmeric yellow color.  Have not read that on any of the fair trade organization websites so I can not confirm this information. Its what Wikipedia says!
Either way there is no difference in the quality of the Shea Butter.  It just people different preferences.

What to look for when choosing a Shea Butter!
Color -Ivory, to yellow or even light green. Again this depends on your preference.
Texture- Smooth and creamy! Not grainy! Graininess can happen when it is heated too fast and cooled too fast.

Whats it good for?
Shea butter is extremely rich natural source of two important vitamins, namely vitamin A and E. Its a  superior moisturizer, and  is used to treat various skin problems including:

  • eczema
  • dermatitis
  • stretch marks
  • dry skin and hair
  • insect bites
  • psoriasis
  • acne
  • cracked skin
  • itchy skin
  • muscle fatigue and tension
  • rheumatism
  • arthritis
  • sunburns
  • skin allergies and rashes
  • scars and dark spots
  • skin blemishes
  • wrinkles
Thanks for reading and I hope this will help your debate on which color shea butter to choose!

You can purchase shea butter here: Beige 

  And here for the Yellow shea butter

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