There are three methods to extract the butter from the kernel contained in the shea fruit:
- the traditional method: the kernels are crushed, roasted, kneaded and then heated in a pot of boiling water. Artisanal 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 make it possible to extract all the butter found in the nut. However, it is the method that results in the best quality, since the active ingredients of 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 remaining in kernels dissolves in hexane. 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, raw shea butter is obtained which is yellow-green in colour, and with a marked smell. This raw shea butter is then refined, especially for use in cosmetics, which consists of 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.