There are three methods for extracting butter from the kernel contained in the shea fruit:
- The traditional method: the kernels are crushed, roasted, kneaded and then heated in a pan of boiling water. Traditional shea butter is produced. Heat can affect its quality to some extent.
- Extraction by cold pressing: the kernels are simply crushed in a press at a temperature below 80°C. This mechanical method does not extract all the butter in the nut. However, it is the method that provides the best quality, since the active ingredients of the shea butter are preserved. SOPHIM now offers cold-pressed refined shea butter.
- Extraction by solvent: the kernels are crushed and then a solvent, hexane, is used. The butter that remains in the kernels dissolves in the Hexane is then allowed to evaporate, and the shea butter is recovered. This method is the most profitable, but the shea butter obtained is of inferior quality.
After extraction, the raw shea butter is yellow-green in colour and has a strong odour. This raw shea butter is then refined, particularly for use in cosmetics, in three stages:
#1 | neutralisation, which removes fatty acids that can oxidise.
#2 | deodorisation, which removes the characteristic smell of shea.
#3 | fading, which makes it possible to obtain a white butter.