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View Full Version : Thoughts on unrefined shea butter


ringuhair
February 4th, 2006, 08:31 AM
I know a few of you like the earthy scent of unrefined shea butter, but I think mine truly stinks. I don't know how to describe it... clay? mud? But I think the texture is probably more pleasant than the refined variety, so I prefer to add essential oils and try to mask it (with limited success).

Is it possible that my shea butter is of very poor quality, though? I bought it at an african products store (they sell accessories, spices and lots of other stuff). The block is a light greenish beige - not unlike my skin, these days - and it's a bit crumbly but it melts rather quickly. And it stinks.

I melted some in the microwave, whipped in a bit of almond oil and rosemary & cedarwood EOs, and poured it in a small clear plastic container. The shea butter seems to turn very green when melted, and it doesn't go back to beige when it becomes solid again. Is this normal?

AnaisSatin
February 4th, 2006, 08:41 AM
It never changed my unrefined shea for the worse when I melted it, and I don't believe melting it has any negative side effects. As for the green, my only guess is that adding the EOs and the almond oil might be it. Unrefined shea butter usually doesn't turn greener when you heat it.

However if it doesn't feel any different, doesn't feel gritty, and still melts fine, then I wouldn't worry about it.

Anais

soprano
February 4th, 2006, 10:12 AM
Are you sure that it hasn't gone rancid?

Pierre
February 4th, 2006, 11:19 AM
If it's beige and smells clayish, it's still good. If it turns white, that appears to indicate that it has lost its healing quality, but it's still good as an emollient.

SmallVoice
February 6th, 2006, 06:14 AM
The crumbly texture sounds like it might just be old. If it were rancid, you would smell it. To me, it smells like a used latex glove when it's bad.

Curlsgirl
February 6th, 2006, 06:47 AM
This has got me to thinking, what should you keep unrefined shea butter in and how long does it last? I don't use it that much as my hair doesn't really like it but I don't want it to go bad as I use it on my skin sometimes.

SunCat
February 6th, 2006, 03:14 PM
I use unrefined shea butter and mine has never been green. It can go rancid, if it really stinks that could be the case.

I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs and the shelf life is one year optimal. They suggest storing it in cool dark place doing so it will last up to a year under those conditions. There are several different grades of shea butter and Mountain Rose Herbs only sells Grade A Unrefined Shea Butter.

My shea butter is a golden color and has a nutty/earthy smell, not a bad smell at all. The color can range from off white/grayish to golden depending on the region it is harvested from.

Rimi
February 6th, 2006, 09:35 PM
Shea butter should not be green. http://www.treasuredlocks.com/shebutben.html

Hope this helps.

nappywomyn
September 26th, 2006, 07:43 AM
Can you freeze shea butter to help keep it longer? I recently went all kinds of crazy and ordered 3 POUNDS of the stuff - and I was hoping I could break it down into smaller (4-8oz) blocks and freeze it......
Has anyone tried this before?

windswept
September 26th, 2006, 04:59 PM
Maybe just keep it in the fridge? Lots of people here have said that their shea butter has kept for a lot longer than the recommended 12 months in a cool dark place (like a bathroom cupboard, not a fridge) so maybe just refrigeration will be fine. And use it for everything!!! (I bought some recently and am planning on making some of Fox's shea recipe, plus using it straight with my heat cap as a DT.)

tuuli
October 1st, 2006, 05:54 AM
I ordered a batch of unrefined Shea Butter. I can't use it. It has a real ugly bitter smell. I don't know how it has to smell.

Myaru
October 2nd, 2006, 04:19 AM
The horrid smell is natural, from what I've heard. The refining process is what deodorizes shea butter, so if you buy it unrefined, it'll smell bad.

You could try getting some shea oil and soften/dilute it with that, maybe. Since it's from the same source maybe it'll mix better.


Ja.

nappywomyn
October 2nd, 2006, 08:05 AM
If the smell REALLY drives you wild, you can always soften the shea butter and mix in an essential/fragrance oil to mask the smell.... musky or spicy smells seem to work best....

ohjezebel
October 4th, 2006, 06:56 AM
Now I feel wierd, because I love the natural Shea smell. Mine is unrefined, it's a deep cloudy yellow color. And it smells good to me - like Shea, earthy and kind of sweet. Then again, I love the smell of Henna so I guess I'm just wierd.

My favorite things (other than using it on my hair) are putting it on the real dry parts of my skin - knees, elbows, soles of my feet, upper arms - at night and letting it soak in. I also use it as a lip balm. Constantly. Just a little bit on a fingertip smeared on my lips. I think it tastes kind of sweet.

nappywomyn
October 4th, 2006, 07:47 AM
Did ya'll know that you can COOK with shea butter? Use it like olive oil, I believe.... I'm considering doing some experimentation with it to see how it tastes.....that'll be one way to use up 3lbs before it goes bad....

VanillaTresses
October 4th, 2006, 12:10 PM
Yeah, I feel weird too cause I really love the smell of my shea butter. I don't think it is the unrefined kind though so maybe they added stuff to it (?)

Hmm. I didn't know you could cook with it! I wonder if it has health benefits like Olive Oil?

Hedera
October 4th, 2006, 01:44 PM
Now I feel wierd, because I love the natural Shea smell.

I like it too!
I wasn't too crazy about it at first, but now I really like it: sort of nutty and earthy.
It doesn't work too well on my hair by itself unfortunately (makes it sticky and stiff), but I love mixing it into stuff and I put it on dry bits of my body, lips etc too.

I didn't know you could cook with it, that's interesting!
And good to know, since I have almost a kilo in my fridge...:silly:

(btw, if any Europeans are looking for a cheap, friendly, reliable, eco-friendly, fair-trade source: akamuti.co.uk sell it for a pittance, and shipping is reasonable, too)

walkinglady
October 5th, 2006, 08:07 PM
My shea butter has an earthy, nutty, and somewhat vanilla smell. It is a very weak hint of a vanilla scent. I have been buying shea for probably 4-5 years and it has never smelled horrible. Is it possible your shea was contaminated with something?

moonchaser
October 5th, 2006, 09:23 PM
The smell of the unrefined shea actually gags me.

I bought it from 3 different sources thinking that one would be okay. Nope, they all gag me.

I think it is just about different preferences. Other rave about BPAL but I haven't liked any of them, or the Goth Rosary scents.

Lux
October 5th, 2006, 10:00 PM
Oh, I hated the smell of my shea butter! I nearly threw up when I first opened the jar. I thought maybe it was just the place I got it from. I left it alone for a month. Recently, I'd noticed my ends were very dry. I decided to try the shea butter anyway, and to just ignore the smell since my ends were getting pretty dry. When I read this, I realized I was used to it. It doesn't smell as strong as when I first opened it. I've been using it daily, without gagging. If you haven't had it long....maybe you could try leaving it open for a little bit and then putting it away for a few weeks. Or maybe it doesn't smell as strong and the more you use it. Or maybe it's just me.

But yeah, new shea butter smells horrible. I'd put it in the same category I put burnt popcorn and this weird yellow bush that smells something like dog poo.

rossjen
October 6th, 2006, 09:47 AM
The only shea butter I've ever bought was the unrefined shea from Mountain Rose Herbs The smell has never bothered me. It reminds me a bit of cocoa butter, actually, but not as sweet. I haven't been that successful using it in my hair (except maybe using a little as part of an SMT, but I absolutely love it for my face, as a body moisturizer, and lipbalm. My 8 ounce jar has lasted me 10 months, and it hasn't changed in any way (I keep it stored in a dark corner of the bathroom cabinet.)

AlyBlu
October 16th, 2006, 09:47 AM
I also enjoy the scent of shea butter. I like to use it on my tips before I bun - it helps keep them smooth - for some reason if I bun without something on the tips - they get very dry .

DragonMommie
October 17th, 2006, 05:52 PM
The block is a light greenish beige - not unlike my skin, these days - and it's a bit crumbly but it melts rather quickly. And it stinks.

I admit that I have limited experience with shea butter, but I am pretty sure that the color is either yellow or white. I've never heard of it being greenish.

DragonMommie
October 17th, 2006, 05:56 PM
This is where I got my shea butter from. This site has many recipes and a lot of information.

Shea Butter: Fair trade (http://www.agbangakarite.com/)

AlyBlu
October 17th, 2006, 08:26 PM
Nice site - thank you!

Flashaway
October 19th, 2006, 09:23 AM
I like the smell of my bio shea butter.

Unless I tried FOX's shea butter and didn't close well the container where it was.. The smell of shea butter was stronger and I throw it to garbage. Hopefully, it was a little amount.

gina2328
October 22nd, 2006, 04:00 PM
I received my 1 lb. jar of shea butter from http://www.agbangakarite.com/. It is very nice shea. I mixed up a small batch of Fox's shea butter. I really like it so far. Since this is a wholesale website with a $ 30 minimum order and the shea only came to about $ 7.75, I ordered from the retail site to make up the difference. I ordered 4 bars of soap, and a lip balm.

I tried one of the soaps (the soaps are all made with shea) and it seems nice, but it does not lather easily, which is a problem. Also has a strong scent. It is the rose geranium. I also ordered a black soap unscented that I have not tried and a goat milk facial soap, which seems to also have a strong scent. I ordered a lip balm but they forgot to ship it, but I called, and it is on the way.

I now wish I had ordered the 5 lb. size shea. for $ 30. The lady I spoke with said shea has about a 2-3 year shelf life, so it would not have gone to waste. So far, shea works the best on my hair, as oils do not work very well. Also, I did not notice a strange smell, but sort of a spicy scent.

curls2grow
October 22nd, 2006, 05:26 PM
Sorry, edit didn't go through on this one, so deleting. Edit came through as the next post in the thread instead.

curls2grow
October 22nd, 2006, 05:28 PM
I'm on my 2nd jar of whipped unrefined shea butter from MotherandDaughters.com (http://www.motheranddaughters.com). I find the smell to be a light earthy/nutty smell too. It's held up well in the jar even when I don't use it regularly for a while. If it's not whipped, I won't use it and I don't want to hassle with whipping it myself. The MandD site links to http://www.agbangakarite.com/ as their product source.

DragonMommie
October 22nd, 2006, 05:38 PM
I love the natural shea butter smell, but it did take me a while to get used to it.

I never oiled my hair before. I was wondering how/when you guys do it. Do you leave it in till next shampoo? Sorry if this sounds lame, but I've never done anything special to my hair before besides putting eggs in it or using a leave-in conditioner that I keep in until next wash.

gina2328
October 22nd, 2006, 06:02 PM
I take a pea size amount for my BSL hair and warm it up in my hands. It starts to melt in my hands and I rub my hands together. Then I distribute all over my hair, usually from the ears down. This makes my hair soft, smooth, and silky. For the top of the hair for frizzies, I usually use a small amount of aloe gel.

I like to apply daily between shampoos because it wears off by the next day. It is probably a good way to protect and condition hair between shampoos.

gina2328
October 22nd, 2006, 06:03 PM
I'm on my 2nd jar of whipped unrefined shea butter from MotherandDaughters.com (http://www.motheranddaughters.com). I find the smell to be a light earthy/nutty smell too. It's held up well in the jar even when I don't use it regularly for a while. If it's not whipped, I won't use it and I don't want to hassle with whipping it myself. The MandD site links to http://www.agbangakarite.com/ as their product source.

That's interesting. I like the idea of whipped shea. I will check out that web site. Thanks.

ETA: It was a bit pricey for me. The shea I purchased was pretty smooth, not hard. I think I will continue with that company unless something better comes along.

RainyDZ
November 18th, 2006, 11:49 PM
Refined shea butter loses its theraputic properties, while unrefined butter retains them. Here is a thorough article about shea butter, a worthwhile read:

Shea Butter is Shea Butter is Shea Butter. Anyone out there familiar with Shea Butter is also familiar with this statement. This statement cannot be farther from the truth in actuality.

Shea Butter has two distinct varieties. The West African Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) and The East African (Vitellaria nilotica).
The East African Shea is lighter in color, has less healing properties, is more expensive, and has a tendency for turning rancid.

The Karite Tree, which is the name of the plant that the Shea Nut comes from, grows only in Africa in a band across the continent from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. It has proven to be impossible to propagate as the German and French governments and various companies have found over the last 100 years.

At this time the majority of Shea Butter is still made the traditional way by village women that have learned the methods from their elders. This has been handed down teachings for generations. The Shea nut and butter is used for many things in the villages from skin care to food and cooking. At this time Shea Butter is not accepted by the FDA/USDA for use as a food substance in this country. It is used in the International Chocolate Industry as a substitute for cocoa butter and is called a CBE. It makes chocolate smoother and creamier. In fact 95% of the shea nuts exported are for the use of this industry.
Belgium, Switzerland, and France are the largest importers in this category.

For use as a butter there are three methods for extracting the oil from the nut:
The traditional method, the cold press method, and the chemical method using hexane.

The use of shea butter in the more common "store bought" creams and lotions involves the use of hexane. This also destroys all the healing properties of the shea. The reason the packaged consumer products use this form of shea is because it is the same color and consistency batch to batch. You soapers out there know the importance of this. It is hard for the big companies to sell different color or consistency on the shelves in stores.
I really can't argue against this attitude much as I demand from my supplier Grade A and of a particular color myself.

The traditional method and the cold pressed are both very good methods. The problems arise in shea butter from the differences between each village, the quality of the water used, the quality of the utensils, and the amount of time between shelling the nuts and the crushing for the cooking or pressing. The time between is critical as mold will develop on the nuts after shelling if not crushed and cooked on the same day.
It is the things like following the same routine, using clean fresh water, sterile utensils, and general cleanliness that the American Shea Butter Institute is trying to instill in many of the villages.
Currently the Institute is working in Ghana and Burkina Faso on these things.

High quality Grade A Shea Butter has two important factions for skin and hair care.
The saponifiable faction is the moisturizing faction. The nonsaponifiable faction is the healing faction. It is the nonsaponifiable faction that separates Shea from the rest of the oils and butters. The saponifiable faction is composed of neutral fats and fatty acids.
The nonsaponifiable faction is composed of Phytonutrients, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.

The Phytonutrients are good for cell regeneration and wound healing. They are anti-inflammatory and have an SPF factor of about 3-4.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and also good for microcirculation.
Vitamin A repairs skin and works on the germinal layer of the skin. The germinal layer is where new skin cells are produced and vitamin A is very important to the healthy mechanism of this layer. It normally takes 4-6 weeks for the stem cells in the germinal layer to migrate to the top layer of skin. The germinal cells undergo important metabolic changes during this migration and Vitamin A is important in this change. That is why it normally takes about 4-6 weeks for the smoother softer skin caused by the use of shea butter.
Elastin is the protein that allows the skin to stretch and recoil. It is elastic in nature and is what gives the skin the supple youthful resilience. An enzyme called Elastase is the cause for the degradation of Elastin. As we age this enzyme plays a greater role in this breakdown.
In Shea Butter the triterpines Lupeol and Beta-Amyrin, as well as Vitamin A and Cinnamic Acid have all shown to inhibit Elastase activity. If the levels of these ingredients are sufficient in Shea Butter it is reasonable to conclude that regular use may retard the destruction of Elastin, helping to keep the skin supple and resilient. It is these ingredients that help determine the quality and the age of Shea Butter. As the useful age of Shea Butter is about 18 months. As Shea Butter ages the Cinnamic Acid value drops and more free fatty acids develop.
The anti-inflammatory agents in Shea Butter make it excellent for eczema. It can help with psoriasis but it takes a very long time and not everyone is helped.

This is but the first of many articles on Shea Butter and I will try to send at least one of these per week until the subject is covered.
As I work with many different oils and essential oils I will give instructions for the proper additions, amounts, and the ways to melt and set shea butter so it is not grainy and very smooth. All these things can be done without harming the Grade A status.
As it is Grade A that I recommend anyone to use. The institute just tested a 25-ton batch of Shea that was considered by them as Grade F because of the amount of mold in the Shea. When Shea is not tested there is no way to determine whether mold, bacteria, heavy metals exist, or how old the Shea is.
So the most important value of Shea Butter is tested Shea Butter.

mek0626
November 19th, 2006, 10:09 PM
I would love to pick up some unrefined shea butter... I will have to wait till I get some extra money though because it isn't cheap... at least here it isnt.

gina2328
November 22nd, 2006, 08:24 AM
I received my 1 lb. jar of shea butter from http://www.agbangakarite.com/. It is very nice shea. I mixed up a small batch of Fox's shea butter. I really like it so far. Since this is a wholesale website with a $ 30 minimum order and the shea only came to about $ 7.75, I ordered from the retail site to make up the difference. I ordered 4 bars of soap, and a lip balm.

I tried one of the soaps (the soaps are all made with shea) and it seems nice, but it does not lather easily, which is a problem. Also has a strong scent. It is the rose geranium. I also ordered a black soap unscented that I have not tried and a goat milk facial soap, which seems to also have a strong scent. I ordered a lip balm but they forgot to ship it, but I called, and it is on the way.

I now wish I had ordered the 5 lb. size shea. for $ 30. The lady I spoke with said shea has about a 2-3 year shelf life, so it would not have gone to waste. So far, shea works the best on my hair, as oils do not work very well. Also, I did not notice a strange smell, but sort of a spicy scent.

Now that I have been using this shea for a month, I would like to say that I LOVE this brand of shea. I prefer it alone, rather than to use it to make up a batch of Fox's shea butter. It is that nice. You really don't need to add anything to it. Well, maybe you could take some out and put it in a separate jar and add in some essential oils to make it smell pretty. It's just great stuff!

Jadie
November 22nd, 2006, 08:29 PM
I don't care for the smell or texture of unrefined shea butter. I melt mine in the microwave and add jojoba oil so make a softer texture and add a few drops of EO. Put it in a jar and it is great for dry skin as well as hair.

Curlsgirl
November 24th, 2006, 11:11 AM
I ordered the whipped shea butter from mothers and daughters website. I love the free shipping! Can't wait to get it!

alligatorbaby23
November 24th, 2006, 06:19 PM
TainyDZ Please post some more on this subject, you are so knowledgable! Loved your post, Thank YOU!

Curlsgirl
November 24th, 2006, 06:27 PM
TainyDZ Please post some more on this subject, you are so knowledgable! Loved your post, Thank YOU!

Um, you do mean RAINYDZ right? :razz: :flowers:

Silvia
November 25th, 2006, 02:46 AM
I *love* the stuff! I'm going through the second jar at the moment.. It's the only thing that does something for my draky and peeling winter skin, and the only thing that lets me comb my hair without it combing into a giant frizzpuff. I also love the texture and smell!

Ebonygurl00
November 26th, 2006, 12:32 AM
Wow, thanks for all of the info, RainyDZ!

Ashley
November 30th, 2006, 08:06 AM
I love my shea too! :inlove: I have 100% pure, unrefined shea as well, and I love the smell. Some people hate the smell of rhassoul, but I love that too.
Sometimes I struggle getting the right amount in my hair, because the texture is quite thick and needs to be warmed up by rubbing it between my fingers, and then apply to my hair. I can't measure if I'm using enough.

gunjee
November 30th, 2006, 01:36 PM
The Agbanga-Karite one seems to be the best unrefined for your money, but if you don't want to get anything else but shea, then I was thinking I would get 4 of the 1 pound jars to get to the $30 minimum and won't get killed on the shipping either! Of course, my shea butter samples still haven't arrived from Nature's Shea (although they've been shipped) and I have this wonderful shea butter cream from T.J. Maxx I've been using on my dry cracked heels overnight and as a leave-in for my hair after I shower so I will wait until after the holidays to do this. I really like how deeply my cream penetrates, and I an only imagine what the pure stuff alone would do for me...*smiles*

Still 4 jars of shea is a bit much. Wouldn't they make good Christmas gifts though? I mean if I added oils like jojoba or almond and essential oils and whipped them and tied a pretty ribbon on them? I know my mom wouldn't use it on her hair, but she could use it on her body. My dad too.

-Shilpa

ole gray mare
November 30th, 2006, 04:05 PM
I bought some shea butter after joining LHC, which was several months ago. I have used it very rarely. I must be missing something, because I find it hard to use. It's very solid and doesn't seem to "melt" easily in my hands. So when I try to put it on my hair, it's just greasy and thick. Am I doing something wrong, or is it just that this isn't the right thing for my hair?

gina2328
November 30th, 2006, 04:18 PM
I bought some shea butter after joining LHC, which was several months ago. I have used it very rarely. I must be missing something, because I find it hard to use. It's very solid and doesn't seem to "melt" easily in my hands. So when I try to put it on my hair, it's just greasy and thick. Am I doing something wrong, or is it just that this isn't the right thing for my hair?

My shea is soft and melts very easily when I rub my hands together, like within 5 seconds. I would say about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. is enough for my bsl hair. If I put in too much shea, then my hair does look greasy. What color is your shea? If it is white, it may be chemically refined, which is not the best. It should smell fresh, and not have an "off" or chemical odor.

gina2328
February 15th, 2007, 12:38 PM
In case anyone wants to try some store bought shea butter, I highly recommend Jason Shea Nut Butter. It has a very nice scent and worked well in my hair. It is yellow colored, so it looks to be unrefined, not like the nasty NOW brand refined shea I purchased last year.

I moved on and bought some african unrefined shea in bulk that I love, but this was a great starting point, and it cost about $ 6.00 at the health food store.

Blu11
February 22nd, 2007, 01:49 AM
gina2328, how much of the shea butter do you get for 6$?
At AgbangaKarite (https://shop.agbangakarite.com/categoryNavigationDocument.hg?categoryId=2), I saw that 5lb costs about 30$, that is about 1/2 kg, right?
Where I live, a tiny bottle (50 grams) costs about 15$! Or did I get the units wrong...

coneja
February 22nd, 2007, 05:30 AM
5lb is a little more than 2 kg. 1 kg= 2.2 lbs. :)

Blu11
February 22nd, 2007, 08:33 AM
5lb is a little more than 2 kg. 1 kg= 2.2 lbs. :)

Thanks coneja!
That is even more than I thought. I will definitely be buying some. :D

gina2328
March 5th, 2007, 05:30 PM
gina2328, how much of the shea butter do you get for 6$?
At AgbangaKarite (https://shop.agbangakarite.com/categoryNavigationDocument.hg?categoryId=2), I saw that 5lb costs about 30$, that is about 1/2 kg, right?
Where I live, a tiny bottle (50 grams) costs about 15$! Or did I get the units wrong...

For $ 6 you only get about 4 oz., only 1/4 of a lb. I did end up buying 1 lb. from AgbangaKarite.com and I think it will last a long time.

Anje
March 5th, 2007, 06:07 PM
I just got my first pound of unrefined shea, and I really like the stuff. It's got a soft natural scent and feels great on my skin -- I can't stop playing with it, so my hands are kinda greasy. It was kinda gritty, so I melted it down and am letting it slowly re-harden right now. I hope that takes care of it; it seemed to with my test lump.

I'm trying smearing it on my cat's paw, where the skin looks dry and itchy and he's licked the fur thin. Hopefully that takes care of it, or poor Linus (http://kittenwar.com/c_images/2005/08/14/28392.jpg) has to go to the vet in a few days. (From searching online, shea appears to be cat-safe, and mine has no EOs. There are several cat products containing it. If anyone knows it's not, please tell me!)

maighdean
March 6th, 2007, 12:08 PM
I have been using unscented shea butter oil by Mode da vie for a few weeks now. Is the oil better than the butter, or are they equal? I use it as lotion, and the bottle mentioned it was great for hair cell regeneration (does that translate to growth or thickness or both?) .