Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter?

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John Harris

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I still want to put a butter in my recipes. I read a post (somewhere on the net) where the writer raves about Cocoa Butter and explains why it is not on a par with Shea Butter. For me, Cocoa Butter would be a bit more expensive.

Do you guys have an opinion?

Just found this... It is what I was reading.

 

dibbles

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Cocoa butter! Even at low percentage I think it makes the lather more soft and cushiony. I don’t find the same to be true of shea. But - this is strictly my opinion. I like bubbly lather more than lotions lather FWIW.
 

Arimara

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I think this is one of those things that you may have to try for yourself. As an aside, you can (and would want to) use less cocoa butter than you would shea. Shea butter is a much softer butter and, in my opinion, makes for a softer bar than cocoa butter would.
 

Ford

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Started to add Cocoa butter. When I noticed trial batches, with were harder. Verse without.
I've used both. Prefer Cocoa.
 

MrsZ

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I've tried both Shea butter and cocoa butter in my favorite recipe. I personally find that I like cocoa butter slightly better, as it makes a little harder bar. But I find the feel of the soap during use to be very similar between cocoa and Shea. I love them both.

I think my recipe moves a little faster when I use Shea.
 

Arimara

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@John Harris I have used upto 25% in a soap. For many, that is pushing it. I would try 10% and see how you like it. Take careful notes if you want to try 5, 15, 20, or even 25-30%. I do advise against going over 25% because cocoa butter can make for a more brittle bar of soap.
 

dibbles

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Even at 5% I can tell a difference. I don't know what it is you are trying to accomplish by adding a butter to your recipe, so depending on what that goal is the amounts could differ. If you are just wanting label appeal 5-8%.

Again, as I know you make large batches, I highly suggest you do a test to see how you like the changes you are making to your recipe. We can tell you what we like, but that might not line up with what you like. A huge batch of soap with 20% cocoa butter that you don't like is a very expensive experiment and leaves you with a lot of soap you don't especially like.

ETA: Also, you have heard back from those of us that prefer cocoa butter, but I actually think shea is more commonly used. Whether that is because the end result is preferable or because of price considerations, I can't say.
 

Becky1024

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Try both and see what you like. I personally like Shea butter because the unsaponified portion is very moisturizing to my skin. However, I have customers who don’t like the smell (even refined Shea) or can’t use it because of a latex allergy.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Yay! Another thread to hijack with boring P/S bookkeeping bureaucracy!

Under what's commonly called “butters”, cocoa butter is special, since it is the only one that brings appreciable amounts of palmitic acid. All others are high-stearic, but (relatively) low-palmitic. That's why I choose cocoa when I don't have another source of palmitic acid (like rice bran/cotton/palm oil, or Japan wax) in my recipe. If I do have one of the aforementioned in some quantity, cocoa butter would be kind of redundant, and shea/sal/kokum/mango/cupuaçu butter or soy wax (hydrogenated soy/canola/sunflower) work quite as well.

That's all based on pure palmitic/stearic bureaucracy. I don't like imbalanced P/S: too P-heavy gives soaps that tend to not harden up, and dissolve quickly in water, too S-heavy makes my skin feel chalky and dry. There really isn't a way around this except trying out for yourself. BUT if your recipe is high in lard/tallow (both with balanced P/S), you can safely forget about all this. 😉🐷

Another thing to keep in mind with shea is unsaponifiables. Only a few oils contain appreciable amounts of them (olive, avocado, shea, rice bran), and if a recipe makes use of them as a “secret superfat”, they're difficult to replace.
But with your situation in mind, I have good news for you: a good way to smuggle something similar to unsaponifiables into a soap is: beeswax!

tl;dr: P/S ratio doesn't help you decide in favour of cocoa butter, and unsaponifiables don't help you decide in favour of shea. You're free, do whatever you want!
 

lucycat

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I use 8%; I use either shea or cocoa in most of my soaps. I find the cocoa butter bar nicer when it is less than 2-3 months old. It just is harder and the lather nice and creamy. Shea gets that way as well but it takes longer in my soaps. I really can't tell the difference in the two in a 6 month old bar. I used to always purchase deodorized cocoa butter but the cocoa scent doesn't carry over in the soap. So, if you don't mind a slightly darker color butter (and not a pure white soap) the regular (Soaper's choice prime) costs a little less, although more than shea. I like refined shea partly for the whiteness and the price.
 

John Harris

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I just compared the prices: Cocoa Butter - $28.71/L and Shea Butter - $17.25/L. Hummmmm...
 

Nona'sFarm

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I have yet to venture into the world of animal fats in soap. So I started using some shea in order to cut down on the amount of palm oil I was using. Honestly, I chose shea over cocoa because I could get it a little cheaper. I usually stick in the 5-10% range. The soaps generally seem to take a little longer to feel hard, not sure why. So I just cure my soaps for 8 - 12 weeks. I do like the feel of the soaps with shea and I'm happy with the lather.
 

TheGecko

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I just compared the prices: Cocoa Butter - $28.71/L and Shea Butter - $17.25/L. Hummmmm...
Do you want to make a good bar of soap that people will rave about and/or want to buy again and again and again, or do you want to make a cheap bar of soap for a higher profit margin?

I use 10% Cocoa Butter AND 10% Shea Butter. My cost per 5 oz bar of soap (no color or scent)...$0.87. Add in FO and my cost jumps to $1.38.

Buy a pound of both and try it.
 

John Harris

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Do you want to make a good bar of soap that people will rave about and/or want to buy again and again and again, or do you want to make a cheap bar of soap for a higher profit margin?

I use 10% Cocoa Butter AND 10% Shea Butter. My cost per 5 oz bar of soap (no color or scent)...$0.87. Add in FO and my cost jumps to $1.38.

Buy a pound of both and try it.
I wonder if we are splitting hairs here. Don't both butters make a special contribution to an excellent soap (all other things being equal)?
 

KiwiMoose

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Buy both, put the shea into your soap, and make chocolate from the cocoa butter!
Germans and their chocolate...
I used to use cocoa butter but it just got too expensive. I did find it could make the soaps brittle. I used it at 15% and always used shea butter at 10% in addition to that. Then I discovered soy wax and opted for that instead of cocoa butter to add the hardness (no brittle either!) I wanted without the cost. I still use 10% shea butter.
 

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