Shea butter comes from the nut of the Shea tree, also known as the karite tree. It is a very versatile product which can be used for cooking, as a skin moisturizer, and hair conditioner. There are different types of Shea butter which are determined by how it’s produced and that governs whether it can be used in food or cosmetics. We wrote about the origin of Shea butter before, and in this post we’ll be building on it. The best way to understand the differences between the types of Shea butter is to learn about how Shea butter is made.
How Shea Butter is Produced
First, the nuts are dried, and then the hard outer shell is removed. The flesh inside the nut is ground down using machines or, traditionally, a mortar and pestle. Once the nut has been crushed, it is roasted. This is where Shea butter gets its characteristic smoky smell from. The roasted Shea butter is then boiled in water. The butter floats to the top of the water and is scooped off, ready to be used.
From this point, additional processing of the Shea butter is not necessary, but it may occur. It is common for Shea butter makers to filter the butter to remove any impurities. The Shea butter may also be treated to remove its smell, change its composition, or alter its colour.
Raw Shea Butter - Grade A
Raw Shea butter is Shea butter which has not been filtered in any way, even through a cheese cloth. This is the type Shea butter we use in our products. This type of Shea butter will always come as a paste (usually in a jar or tub). Since it cannot be poured into moulds, it will not be shaped in any way. Because raw Shea butter is not filtered, it is common for it to have flecks of impurities in it. It is usually a deep yellow colour and it is a hard solid which doesn’t lather smoothly at room temperature.
Unrefined Shea Butter - Grade A
Unrefined Shea butter is often confused with raw Shea butter; however, there is a slight difference between these two types of Shea butter. With unrefined Shea butter, filtering is allowed so long as it does not affect the qualities of the raw Shea butter. Most commonly, unrefined Shea butter is filtered using cheese cloth. Unrefined Shea butter can also be poured into moulds, so it is fairly common to find these products in bars or sticks.
Refined Shea Butter - Grade B
Refined Shea butter has undergone some form of processing in order to remove its odour and/or change its properties. It is also common for refined Shea butter to have additives, such as perfumes or preservatives. Refined Shea butter is generally very smooth and has a white colour instead of an off yellow colour. It is not considered as "healthy" as raw or unrefined Shea butter because the refinement process destroys some of the nutrients in the Shea butter.
Ultra-Refined Shea Butter - Grade C
If Shea butter has been "ultra-refined", it has gone through at least two filtering systems that change its composition. Ultra-refined Shea butter is typically used for mass-produced cosmetics. It will almost always be very white in colour. The consistency can vary, depending on how the manufacturer wants to use the Shea butter in a product, such as it having a firm consistency for a lip balm or being more liquid-like for a hair conditioner. This type of Shea butter is considered the least healthy because it loses nutrients in the refinement process. The chemicals used in the refinement process can also be unhealthy, such as hexane.
Lowest Quality of Shea Butter
We won't discuss these in detail, the only thing you need to know is to stay away from these butters.
Grade D - Ultra-refined uncontaminated Shea butter
Grade E - Ultra-refined Shea butter with contaminants
We'll leave it here for today, in the next blog post we'll discuss some of the pros and cons of the different butters. Visit our products to view all of our Shea butter products.Source: http://www.ebay.com/