Shea Butter

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What is it? A rich, thick butter made from the shea nut. Most shea butter we use is from Ghana or Burkina Faso.
Appearance Thick and solid. The unrefined stuff comes in soft chunks and is beige to a pale yellow in colours. The refined stuff is pure white and can come in chunks or as a solid from being poured into its container while melted. If you live somewhere quite hot your shea might never be in chunks when it arrives if it melts during shipping and then re-solidifies.
Texture Thick and a bit tacky or sticky. You can spread a very thick layer of it on your skin, unlike thinner oils like coconut oil.
Scent The unrefined stuff has a distinctive smokey sort of scent that some people love and others loathe. The refined stuff doesn’t smell like much.
Absorbency Speed Slow. Shea butter is thick, rich, and heavy.
Approximate Melting Point 37°C/99°F
Why do we use it in recipes? It brings great staying power and creaminess to recipes, and is fantastic for dry skin.
Do you need it? I’d say so; it was one of the first ingredients I purchased and I use it all the time.
Refined or unrefined? I have both; I use the unrefined stuff in soap, and will often choose the refined variety for body butters and lip balms where I don’t want a shea scent.
Strengths Shea butter is a great moisturizer, especially for irritated skin.
Weaknesses It is really greasy, and the unrefined version can smell a bit funny. I also find it’s extra prone to going grainy in projects.
Alternatives & Substitutions Mango butter is a good alternative in terms of also being a soft oil, though it does absorb into the skin much faster than shea butter does.
How to Work with It Melt it gently in a water bath to incorporate it into recipes.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, shea butter should last at least one year.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks  Try applying it straight to dry, irritated skin—it’s especially good for eczema.
Recommended starter amount 100g (3oz)
Where to Buy it Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Shea Butter

Skills

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Posted on

August 25, 2016

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