How much shea butter is too much?

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Scooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
637
Reaction score
225
Location
NC
First off, let me say that I am one of those people who likes shea butter and have made a few batches at around 25-27%... so far, so good. I am happy with it.

Second, I have tried reading as many threads on this as possible and here are the arguments I have heard for not using a lot of shea butter:

1) It can be too expensive and people may not see that much difference anyway, compared to, say, palm oil.

2) It might inhibit lather.

3) It might make the soap feel too waxy.

So far this is something I would file under "YMMV" and since I like my experience with shea I was thinking about upping my amount to 33%, maybe.

But then, I was reading up on shea butter in wikipedia and the article there (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shea_butter) claims that "Some artisan soap makers use shea butter in amounts to 25% - with the EU regulating the maximum use around 28%...." Really? I am not in the EU and don't sell anyway so this really should not matter to me EXCEPT I am wondering now if there is some danger of which I am not aware.

Am I missing something? Are there any other arguments against using large amounts of shea I should be aware of?
 

CaraBou

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
3,078
Reaction score
3,177
Location
Montana
I can't answer your question - maybe it's related to sensitivities to tree nuts? Anyway, I do admire your courage to admit that affinity despite the shame of shea around here. :smallno: I like shea in soap too, and mostly use it in winter formulas. I've gone as high as 20% though that batch doesn't stand out as good or bad. I simply don't remember and didn't write it down, though a do recall a friend specifically asking for more of that particular recipe.

I'll also say the EU regs seem a bit nonsensical in other respects, from what I see. The US has a lot of crazy laws too but thank goodness it's not that extreme related to soapmaking.
 

Obsidian

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2013
Messages
10,326
Reaction score
8,157
Location
Idaho, USA
Shea can trigger latex allergies, maybe that's part of it.

I use max 20% and even then I had to increase the coconut to 28% to help the lather killing tendency of the shea.
It's a nice enough soap, comparable to my regular high lard recipe. I wouldn't use it regularly in that amount, too expensive.
 

LilyJo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Messages
570
Reaction score
475
Location
Hampshire, UK
Have never come across that for shea before - have just checked here and I cant find anything to confirm that restriction (buy hey thats Wiki for you!!). Have checked my cosmetic assesor who has it listed as it can be used up to 100%. The only realy thing I an find is about the use of shea in foodstuff, where its use is restricted.

BTW L'Occitane do produce creams, soaps using up to 25%.


Am off to do more research as its not a regulation I had ever seen mentioned before today so I feel like I need to prove or disprove it for my own sanity!
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
8,993
Reaction score
9,096
Location
Austria
I think that the safety assessor having it at 100% is proof enough!

I would say that a great deal of soapers here love using Shea in the bars, but not all - from experiences like Obsidian's, I know it's not something I really have to definitely try and certainly is not a "must have" in a bar. If people want to use it, fair enough, though. But also when someone says that a bar has to have it to be creamy and luxurious, I know that it isn't the case.

I think what I'm driving at is that it's up to you - many people here use at least 10% in many bars. Many won't use more than 25% because of the affects on the lather but some don't find that an issue. Some don't use any at all!
 

Scooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
637
Reaction score
225
Location
NC
:smallno:
I love this emoticon.

Well I don't use shea because I think it is luxurious although I think it does feel really great. I always wonder what people mean when they say any soap feels luxurious. My showers are so fast that is something that just does not compute for me.

Basically I am married to someone who 1) does not want animal products in our soap and 2) has concerns about palm oil. Also, 3) I got ten pounds of shea on a really good sale so the stuff I'm working with now is a little cheaper than the verifiable sustainable non-Malaysian non-Indonesian "cruelty free" palm I can get.

And man ten pounds is a lot. Now I can almost understand why people start selling...only because if you want a good price on supplies you'll be making so much dang soap there is not much else you can do with it. :p

Thanks for all the replies. I may chalk that EU statement on wikipedia to someone posting something they do not know anything about.
 
Last edited:

Scooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
637
Reaction score
225
Location
NC
BTW L'Occitane do produce creams, soaps using up to 25%.
Interesting. A friend gave me a little sample bar she picked up in a hotel not long ago and that thing has lasted over 4 months as the primary soap for hand washing.


Am off to do more research as its not a regulation I had ever seen mentioned before today so I feel like I need to prove or disprove it for my own sanity!
Oh gosh I did not mean to send you down the internet rabbit hole with this! Please don't waste a lot of time on it. I was just wondering if folks knew anything obvious about it.
 

snappyllama

Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
3,910
Reaction score
3,040
Location
Near Charlotte NC
I love a little shea in soaps but stick around 10% or so for my total butters in a soap. I really, really, really love shea in B&B (or even used neat on my skin). It just feels so nice and sinks in - creamy without being overly greasy and it doesn't seem to break me out. If you have that much shea on hand, maybe try it out in lotions, lip balm, hand balm, bath bombs, lotion bars, etc. I've even seen it used a a treatment for cracked puppy pads. Just good stuff...
 

Arimara

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Messages
3,434
Reaction score
2,545
I've used it at about 15% or less in some soaps. I actually like it and have considered using more shea in a recipe. I don't mind lowering my superfat to bump up percentages. it helps with bubbles too.
 

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
11,914
Reaction score
11,492
Location
Southern California
I have one soap I used to make and been thinking about making again that is 56% shea butter. Just tested one I made in 2012 and it does lather decent, but no creamy lather, just fat bubbles. I find it interesting with a 5% superfat and only 10% PKO the balance being soft oils it gives a very squeaky clean, slightly sticky feel until my hands dried. Now my hands do feel quite nice and soft.
 

CaraBou

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
3,078
Reaction score
3,177
Location
Montana
Teg, are you saying you've never even tried shea? I'm surprised given all the advice you give to leave it out. I apologize if I read too much into your post.

Very few oils are "must have" in soap - in fact I'd say none given the popularity of some single oil recipes (e.g., castille and salt bars). It almost all comes down to resources on hand, the qualities you want, and your affinity toward experimenting.

I kidded about the shea of shame because it is common to see people here advising to leave shea out of recipes, even if the proposed recipe calls for just 5-10%. I get that not everyone likes it or wants to spend the money, but when someone asks for recipe feedback I generally see that as a call to help them balance their bar and understand potential tradeoffs, not make it into something altogether different.

Scooter was smart to acknowledge potential drawbacks of shea along with personal preferences and successes with it. But newbies obviously don't have that backing.

Sorry for the slight digression Scooter, I'll stop now. I'm looking forward to hearing what you find out about shea-rich soaps. I am very intrigued by Carolyn's experience with 56%; that is different than what I would have expected.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
8,993
Reaction score
9,096
Location
Austria
Teg, are you saying you've never even tried shea? I'm surprised given all the advice you give to leave it out. I apologize if I read too much into your post.

Very few oils are "must have" in soap - in fact I'd say none given the popularity of some single oil recipes (e.g., castille and salt bars). It almost all comes down to resources on hand, the qualities you want, and your affinity toward experimenting.

I kidded about the shea of shame because it is common to see people here advising to leave shea out of recipes, even if the proposed recipe calls for just 5-10%. I get that not everyone likes it or wants to spend the money, but when someone asks for recipe feedback I generally see that as a call to help them balance their bar and understand potential tradeoffs, not make it into something altogether different.

Scooter was smart to acknowledge potential drawbacks of shea along with personal preferences and successes with it. But newbies obviously don't have that backing.

Sorry for the slight digression Scooter, I'll stop now. I'm looking forward to hearing what you find out about shea-rich soaps. I am very intrigued by Carolyn's experience with 56%; that is different than what I would have expected.
Not in any soaps which I have made, but in soaps from swaps, as well as tests performed by people here. Which is why I say what I do - it's not necessarily a requirement, if a recipe struggles to be balanced by having it in there, it can be left out. But many people do love it, as I said. Which is why I give out "all" the advice that I do - so that people can also consider not using it if that would be a better option for them in that particular instance rather than thinking that a soap with no butters would be terrible drying and horrible to use.

I have also never used jojoba oil or old motor oil from a tank in my soaps - is it okay with you if I advise people on those particular oils, even though I haven't personally made a batch with them?
 

Scooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2016
Messages
637
Reaction score
225
Location
NC
I forgot to mention I have tried 75% shea but was not overly impressed. The 56% seemed to be the sweet spot. My recipe has 8% castor 26% liquid oils and 10% PKO
Wow that is surprising to me... I would have thought that much of any butter would have killed the lather. I'm happy to hear it has big fat bubbles.
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,904
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
I recently tried a bar I made:
50% shea
5% castor
20% coconut
25% sunflower
2% superfat

I got that recipe from somebody on this site. I made it for the Fragrance Blend swap, so it was made in July. I'm not very pleased with it. Very little lather. Possibly it would be improved with more coconut, but it's an awfully expensive recipe!
 

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
11,914
Reaction score
11,492
Location
Southern California
I recently tried a bar I made:
50% shea
5% castor
20% coconut
25% sunflower
2% superfat

I got that recipe from somebody on this site. I made it for the Fragrance Blend swap, so it was made in July. I'm not very pleased with it. Very little lather. Possibly it would be improved with more coconut, but it's an awfully expensive recipe!
Hopefully it was not from me, because that is not my recipe, but that tends to be my superfat level well, 2-3%. My shea soap I superfatted at 5% and used carrot infused oil
 

Latest posts

Top