Why I Use Refined Shea Butter (and not unrefined, raw shea butter)

Posted by Renee Harris on

Dear Renee,

Do you have an opinion on refined vs. unrefined shea butter? I notice you use refined; what led you to that decision?

Thank you, Katie

I have experimented with unrefined shea butter several times, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion:

1. The odor of raw, unrefined shea butter is very heavy; some describe it as "smokey" - I would say it smells more like burnt rubber and the smell does not go away when added to the other ingredients. The natural scent of unrefined shea butter is quite strong, and customers do not like it.

2. Unrefined shea butter requires extra stability to keep the texture smooth. The potential for graininess in the finished product is much higher with unrefined shea butter. Unrefined shea butter = grainy product. If you make your own products and want to make sure your unrefined shea butter won't leave you with a grainy end result, try the suggestions in this post: http://shearadiance.typepad.com/shea_radiance/eliminate-grains-from-unrefined-shea-butter/

The process my supplier uses to refine the butter involves naturally extracting it from the shea nut and filtering out any impurities. This results in a creamy, off-white color and extremely pure product.  We don't have issues with graininess and the shea butter performs well in all of our recipes. We haven't found that the healing properties of the shea butter we use are diminished because of the careful refining process. 

That said, if you prefer to make your own ingredients using a raw, unrefined shea butter, we do recommend the shea butter from this store: http://www.essentialdepot.com/product/SHEA-1GAL-PAIL.html


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