TYPES & COLORS: UNREFINED Shea Butter – straight from nature. COLOR – because unrefined shea butter is extracted traditionally or cold pressed, the color may vary between light gray to medium yellow. REFINED, PROCESSED etc – bleached, deodorized, refined. Hexane is used to extract more shea butter. Sometimes further processing is required to remove the hexane contaminated shea butter. COLOR- white. (Do not confuse with cream). WHAT IS HEXANE – It is a toxic chemical produced in a petroleum refinery and is a by-product of gasoline. It is mainly used as a solvent to extract edible oils from seed and vegetable crops like soybeans, peanuts & corn. Commercial grades are used as solvents for glues, vanishes & inks.
Ways of extracting Shea Butter. What happens to shea butter after it has been extracted
SMELL: Shea Butter like all other natural products has a natural scent. These scents do not stink. The natural scent is usually stronger if the shea butter is fresh. As the Shea Butter gets older, the natural scent diminishes. Shea Butter with no scent is not unrefined shea butter. Traditionally extracted or cold pressed shea butter will usually have a nutty and a slight smoky scent to it because it is prepared under open fire. Once applied to skin or hair, there is no scent. Unrefined shea butter will not be fragranced.
Shea Butter does not look like, smell like or feel like Cocoa Butter. They are two separate things. They are extracted differently. They do not come from the same tree.
Real SHEA BUTTER does not SMELL
SHELF-LIFE: This is another area of misunderstanding for some people. Unrefined Shea Butter does not spoil. It does not have a shelf life. It’s healing properties are very powerful within the first year and a half. After that, it is still usable but not as beneficial. There is no need to store it in a freezer or refrigerator. Treat it like you treat your moisturizers and lotions. Keep it in a cool dry place. There is no special way to handle it. It just is. If you have ever encountered spoiled unrefined shea butter, then it was not unrefined shea butter to begin with.
Shea Butter comes from the Shea Tree. Mostly found in West African countries like Ghana, Mali, Togo, Burkina Faso & Nigeria. Shea Butter can also be found in East Africa. The Shea Tree or Karité Tree grows naturally in nature.
Shea Butter is not found all over Africa. Remember, there are over 50 countries in Africa. And over 3000 different ethnic groups. Africa is at least 5 times bigger than USA
TEXTURE: The texture of shea butter is smooth. Fresh shea butter is usually very soft. As the shea butter ages, it becomes stiffer but still smooth. Shea Butter is naturally thick and fatty (in a good way). A little goes a long way. Shea Butter is easily melted by the hot sun or any form of heat. This will make it liquefy. It will get back to its solid state once it is in a cool area. When shea butter is melted under direct heat or very high temperatures, the texture changes. It becomes grainy and never returns to its original texture. Some processed Shea Butter may have a gummy texture to it. Other processed shea butters may have a petroleum jelly texture to it.
VERY IMPORTANT: The color of unrefined Shea Butter depends on the Shea Nut itself. Due to the nature of the nuts, the color of unrefined Shea Butter may vary. As far as properties & benefits are concerned, there is no difference between the various color yielded shea butter. In spite of this fact, one can still distinguish unrefined Shea Butter from bleached Shea Butter & processed Shea Butter because processed Shea Butter is COMPLETELY STRIPPED. It is odorless, and clear white (sometimes confused with cream unrefined Shea Butter). The texture is completely different from Unrefined Shea Butter. Processed Shea Butter does not deepen in color over time and retails at very high prices.
Traditionally, the nuts from the Shea Tree or Karité Tree, called Shea Nuts, are picked, roasted, and pounded. It is then boiled for several hours to extract 100% PURE UNREFINED SHEA BUTTER
Unrefined Shea Butter entails an enormous amount of detail, information & process. We have tried to narrow it down for a better understanding on unrefined Shea Butter. Once you familiarize yourself with unrefined Shea Butter, it becomes easier to spot the differences.
One cannot judge the quality and authenticity of unrefined Shea Butter solely based on color. The benefits of unrefined Shea Butter, after one has used the actual product for a length of time, is a significant part in identifying unrefined Shea Butter. Texture and quality is also imperative.
Don’t get confused with all the ‘fancy shimanzy’ names for Shea Butter.
Shea Butter in Ghana is called NKUTO. In French shea butter is pronounced Beurre de Karité. Beurre means BUTTER & Karité means SHEA
In Ibo (spoken in Nigeria) Shea butter is called ORI