July 18, 2015 | Posted in:FAQ
Shea Butter processing is at the top of every consumer’s mind now days with so many brands on the market. The three main ways in which Shea Butter is being manufactured has a relevant being impact on the final Shea product. The consumer may be alert to the quality differences in the end product; however it’s valuable to understand technics of how Shea Butter.
History accounts from as early as Cleopatra’s Egypt speak of caravans bearing clay jars of valuable shear butter for cosmetic use. The funeral beds of early kings were carved in the wood of shea trees. Shea butter’s skin care and healing properties were first harnessed thousands of years ago. The history of shea as a precious commodity can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where shea butter was and continues to be used to protect the hair and skin against the fierce sun and the hot dry winds of African deserts and savannah.
Organic raw unrefined 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 the best unrefined shea butter useful for everything from hair care to reducing wrinkles.
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.
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.
Real Smoothness unrefined African shea butter is cut into 1lb bars but never heated. Consumers look for unrefined shea butter natural hair products to help manage their hair styles.