How Shea Butter is processed is at the top of every consumer’s mind these days. This makes sense. The many ways in which Shea Butter can be manufactured has a significant impact on the final Shea product. While you as the consumer may be aware of quality differences in the end product, it’s valuable to understand mechanics of how Shea Butter gets processed as well.
There are three major methods of processing Shea: Refined, Raw and Cold Pressed.
REFINED – Refined Shea Butter is white in color, odorless and hard and sometimes grainy and texture. It is one of the most popular and common kinds of Shea Butter available.
The process that creates Refined Shea Butter starts with the raw product. During the refinement process, Raw Shea Butter is subjected to extremely high heat. The heating process induces a state change that allows the refined product to have a long shelf life. The heating process, however, also eliminates naturally occurring essential fatty acids and proteins. Added preservatives like sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate also help to keep Refined Shea Butter long lasting. Finally, to remove the earthy scent of Raw Shea Butter, refiners uses hexane to strip the butter of its color and nutty fragrance. This is helpful if one wants to use Shea Butter without all of the variation in appearance and odor. However, it is less curative due to the lack of natural vitamins and other nutrients.
RAW – Raw Shea Butter ranges in color from light beige to a more creamy yellow. It is smooth to the touch, absorbs easily and sometimes has a roasted fragrance to it. Interest in Raw Shea Butter is having a well-deserved resurgence.
Raw Shea Butter is extracted and processed in the traditional way woman of Africa have done for centuries. In Raw Shea Butter, the nuts of the wild growing Karite Tree are hand harvested and brought back to the village. At the village, women hand shell the Karite Nuts (aka the Shea nuts) and uncover the raw nut that makes up the butter. The nut is then grilled to open up its properties, pounded into a powder and boiled. During boiling, the potent oils in Shea Butter rise to the surface, after which they are scooped into gourds and left to cool and set. The result is a miraculous beauty, anti-aging and therapeutic lotion that is naturally high in Vitamins A and E, has more antioxidants that Green Tea and boasts of six different Essential Fatty Acids. Its high nutrient content makes Raw Shea Butter useful for everything from hair care to reducing wrinkles.
COLD PRESSED – Cold Pressed Shea Butter is a new way of processing and gaining in popularity. Cold Pressed Shea Butter produces a final product that is lighter in Shea scent and color, but still as nutritive.
Cold Pressing involves extracting oil and nutrients from the Shea Nut using an expeller press, or something similar. An expeller press is a machine that puts a great amount of pressure on oil-bearing materials like olives, coconuts and, in this case, Shea. Heavy friction and continuous pressure releases oil from the Shea and the oil seeps through small openings that do not allow solid Shea fibers to enter. Although cold pressing does not extract every last trace oil in the same way that traditional processing does, the process does cut 3-5 hours off the extraction time. The result is somewhat similar to refined Shea Butter, but no chemicals or synthetics are used.
At 24Karite Gold, our Raw Shea Butter is a lavish and remarkable healing and beauty agent. We conscioulsy choose to only offer 100% raw shea butter because it has the most intact levels of beneficial and moisturizing compounds. Why compromise when you can have the best?!