Rich, creamy, and decadent, butters are a great addition to DIY bath and body projects. They can be used in cold process soap, lip balms, lotion, and more. Find out which butter is right for your project below!
First, let’s talk about what butters have in common. They come from various natural sources like fruit trees. Some are a blend of hydrogenated oils, which means hydrogen was added to liquid oils to turn them into a solid. In general, butters are extremely skin loving and add a luxurious feeling to products. They can be used up to 15% in cold process soap. More than that can make the bars brittle and prone to cracking. Learn more in the Beginner's Guide to Common Soap Making Oils post.
Shea butter is one of our most popular products, and for good reason. It makes skin feel moisturized and smooth. The butter is cold pressed from the seeds of the karite tree, and ours is ultra refined for a neutral smell and color. We also carry raw shea butter, which is unrefined. It has a natural smoky smell and a grayish-yellow color. Our turmeric shea butter is a mix of oils and turmeric root extract.
Shea has a softer texture than cocoa and mango butter, but slightly firmer than avocado butter. It has a shelf life of about 2 years, and a melting point of about 90° F.
We recommend it at 15% or less of the total oils in your cold process recipes. It contributes to bar hardness and conditioning properties, but not to lather. The soft texture makes it great for whipped body butters.
Cocoa butter is a vegetable fat with a firm texture. It can be used to harden soap, lip balm, body butters, and more. The melting point is 86-90° F, and the shelf life is 2 years. At room temperature, cocoa butter is extremely hard and brittle - similar to wax. It melts very slightly on contact with skin.
This butter has a natural chocolate scent that works well on its own or paired with your favorite fragrance oil. If you want a lighter scent and color that won't clash with your recipes, try deodorized cocoa butter. You can use it up to 15% in cold process soap to add firmness and moisture. It doesn't contribute to lather.
It's best to temper cocoa butter. When the fatty acids melt and solidify at different temperatures, they can form clumps that cause a grainy feeling. Using a Crock-Pot or a pot on the stove, heat the butter to 100° F and hold for 45-60 minutes. Pour into a container and place in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly.
Avocado Butter, Coffee Butter, Cranberry Butter, Aloe Butter, Lime Butter, Lavender Butter
These butters have a soft and spreadable consistency. They're made with hydrogenated oil or a mixture of firmer oils like shea butter and coconut oil. Along with adding moisture to your recipes, some of the butters add a subtle color and scent.
Their melting points range from 76-200° F, and the shelf lives from 1-3 years. We recommend using them at 6-12% in cold process soap.
Soft butters work really well in balms and body butters. You can use them on their own, or add oils and wax to create your perfect texture.
Mango butter has a firmer texture than shea, but softer than cocoa. It melts on contact with the skin. It's extracted from the fruit kernels of the mango tree, and ours is refined and deodorized. Mango butter has a melting point of 86° F, and a shelf life of 2 years.
That texture makes it a go-to choice for many crafters. In soap, we recommend using it at 15% or less of the total oils. Mango butter contributes a small amount of firmness to soap, but not nearly as much as cocoa butter. It also works great for balms, lotions, and more. Just make sure to melt it beforehand so it's easier to incorporate.
Kokum butter is a unique product you have to try. The texture is similar to cocoa, but firmer and more crumbly. The butter comes from the fruit kernels of the Indian tree, also known as Garcinia indica. It’s indigenous to the Western Ghats region of India. It has a shelf life of about 2 years.
Kokum starts to melt around 90° F. It feels lightweight and not greasy, and melts slightly on contact with the skin. We love it in soap, body butter, lip balm, and lotion. You can use kokum butter up to 10% in cold process soap to add firmness and a bit of luxury.
Ready to get started? Find DIY bath and body projects made with butter here!