Cocoa butter, also known as cacao butter in its unrefined form, is the edible fat extracted from cocoa beans after the cocoa powder is extracted.
Cocoa butter is a form of healthy saturated fat that contains zero cholesterol. This fat is used in chocolate production, culinary, toiletries and pharmaceuticals.
But what is cocoa butter made of? In this article, you’ll get to find all the answers you seek.
Buckle up and let’s go!
Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Cocoa Butter!
What is cocoa butter?
Cocoa butter comes from a cocoa plant called theobroma cacao, a native of central and south America and cultivated in parts of west Africa. Cocoa butter is used in making chocolate and cosmetic products.
Raw cocoa butter has a strong chocolate aroma although refined cocoa butter has a minimal aroma.
Unlike other butter, cocoa butter is solid in nature and melts below room temperature on low heat. It is expensive due to its lifespan of between two to five years.
Also Read: What is Cocoa Butter: Benefits, Uses, Characteristics and Side Effects
How is cocoa butter extracted or made? Step by step guide
Cocoa butter is extracted through the pressing of mature cocoa seeds. Raw cocoa butter turns out yellowish or creamy in color, possessing a sweet aroma akin to chocolate, and the only fat found in chocolate, due to its unique feature of being brittle at temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius.
Following below is the step-by-step guide;
Step 1: Extracting cocoa beans from the pods
According to Fanny C et al, to extract cocoa butter, the pods are first harvested at maturity. The amount of cocoa beans harvested depends on the amount of cocoa butter that needs to be extracted.
Then the pods are opened to remove the beans carefully, placing them in a basket. The husks of cocoa are a good source of compost for plants. It is advisable not to wait more than four days before opening the pods.
Step 2: Fermenting the cocoa beans
When the cocoa beans are opened, it is time to ferment them. Mostly, the fermentation of cocoa beans is done using wooden boxes that have holes at the bottom. The beans are placed in the wooden boxes placed above floor level to keep the beans warm.
Because the beans are fresh, as they ferment, juices drip to the bottom and may cause the beans to rot. This is why it’s important to make holes at the bottom of the wooden box so that the drips can flow out of the box.
Nevertheless, some farmers prefer to heap the cocoa beans on a dry flat surface, covering it with banana leaves and turning it a few times a week to ferment. The disadvantage of this process is that the drip of the fermenting cocoa beans stays in the heap and may result in rot.
The best method to use in fermenting cocoa beans, therefore, is the wooden box, however, you need to change the boxes every two days after stirring the cocoa beans.
Now cocoa beans go through a fermentation procedure because cocoa beans contain a seed coat, a germ and a kernel. The fermentation process destroys the seed coat, germ and gives the kernel a good taste.
Step 3: Drying the cocoa beans
Dry your cocoa beans after it ferments. There are two ways to dry cocoa beans; through the scorching sun or by roasting using fire.
To dry fermented cocoa beans in the sun, spread them on large boards or flat surfaces raised one meter above ground level. Keep the layer of cocoa beans as thin as possible, less than four centimeters thick.
Keep an eye on the cocoa beans, stirring the beans often so the bottom can expose to the sun too. This may take between five to ten days to dry.
To dry the fermented beans through fire, spread the cocoa beans on a concrete slab and place them above the modern drier. The modern dryer is built with a hollow space beneath it.
Light fire underneath the modern drier to heat the concrete slab. The fire should not be too hot so as to burn the cocoa beans. Make sure you stir often to achieve balance or even.
The modern drier method is mostly used in cocoa-growing regions where the weather is often moist and as such, using direct sunlight does not dry the cocoa beans well.
Drying cocoa beans makes it less moist which ensures the purest extraction of cocoa butter.
Step 4: Sorting the dried cocoa beans
After drying the cocoa beans, sort them by separating the broken beans, the flat beans, the germinated beans and moldy beans.
This process is necessary to keep only good dried cocoa beans.
Step 5: Grinding the cocoa beans
Dried cocoa beans are then finely ground, pressed to obtain cocoa butter. . There are also two methods used in grinding cocoa beans for cocoa butter.
One method is through warming the ground cocoa beans to be able to press them warm. This method is easier although it does not obtain raw cocoa butter.
Contrariwise, you can cold press the dried cocoa beans to obtain cocoa butter. This cocoa butter is raw cocoa butter with all the ingredients intact.
Cold pressing cocoa beans can either be done by pressing the whole cocoa beans to extract cocoa butter or by grinding the cocoa beans to a pulp then pressing the pulp to extract the butter.
Whatever cold pressing method you use results in the same purest quality of cocoa butter extracted, however, grinding guarantees maximum removal of cocoa butter.
It is notable that extraction of cocoa butter methods is mostly used in the factory but can be done at home if you have the right equipment and tools. Moreover, you can always get raw cocoa butter to make homemade cocoa butter for your skincare.
What is cocoa butter made of?
Cocoa butter is made of notable nutrients and ingredients that are excellent for health, hair and skincare.
For every 100g of cocoa butter, 60g of saturated fat is present. As reported by Nutrition Advance, cocoa butter contains four major fatty acids; mainly saturated and monounsaturated fats and other nutrients.
Stearic acid tabulated above contains 33.2 percent saturated fatty acid.
Compared to other saturated fatty acids, a methodical review indicate that stearic acid lowers Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and has a neutral effect on High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), according to the National Library of Medicine
has a composition of 32.6 percent monounsaturated fatty acid in cocoa butter. Oleic acid is the most widely distributed fatty acid in nature, and it is the predominant fat in olive oil.
Research indicates oleic acid has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance and is an important ingredient for immune health and may have anti-inflammatory activity.
Palmitic acid has a composition of 25.4 saturated fatty acid in cocoa butter which also occurs in most animal and plant-based food
Although Palmitic acid may cause problems alongside an excessive intake of dietary carbohydrates, there isn’t enough evidence to prove any negative effect on health.
A major fat from the omega-6 family of essential fatty acids, linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fat with a composition of 2.8 percent.
This fatty acid is present in most foods in varying proportions, but it’s highly concentrated in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
Linoleic acid plays an important role with its pro-inflammatory properties, linoleic acid in cocoa butter is responsible for proper wound healing.
Despite being a healthy saturated fatty acid, overusing linoleic acid can affect your health due to the overproduction of inflammatory compounds and can contribute to chronic disease risk.
Calories and Macronutrients in cocoa butter
|Macronutrient / Calories||Amount (Grams / % RDA)|
|Saturated Fat||59.7 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||32.9 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||3.0 g|
|Vitamin / Mineral||Amount (% DV)|
|Vitamin K||31% DV|
|Vitamin E||9% DV|
Types of cocoa butter
Raw Cocoa butter
The unrefined cocoa butter, also known as the raw cocoa, is creamy yellowish. It comes with all its natural skincare and health components. It is cocoa butter that is not heated at higher temperatures during processing stages, thereby maintaining its nutrients and saturated fatty acids.
Raw cocoa butter is superlative for extra-sensitive skin like those that develop bumps or keloids,
and dry skin affected by eczema. Its raw state also makes it ideal for medicinal purposes as it prevents inflammation of the skin and aids the overall health of the skin.
2. Refined cocoa butter
The refined cocoa butter results in whitish color with most of the ingredients gone. Refine cocoa butter also takes away its chocolate smell, making it unique for skincare manufacturers that want to use it in their cosmetic products without the smell.
3. Ultra-refined cocoa butter
Ultra-refined, also known to be deodorized, seems to have properties in-between both raw and refined cocoa butter.
Ultra-refined cocoa butter has a whitish bright color, making it lose its chocolate smell but still maintains most ingredients found in raw cocoa butter.
Ultra-refined cocoa butter is stable and emollient, and can be added to products that do not need the chocolate smell; blending well with floral-scented cosmetics.
As an ideal ointment base, it improves skin elasticity, prevents dehydration and restores skin to
its health during peeling. It is also a superlative ingredient in natural lotions, creams, lip balms, bar soaps, hair conditioners, and body butter.
4. Cocoa Organic Butter
This type of cocoa butter is best used in organic cosmetics and shampoos. It is known to be
processed and refined to produce a whitish, odorless butter used as a skin moisturizer. Organic cocoa butter is solid at room temperature but melts readily on contact with the skin.
How is cocoa butter used?
Cocoa butter is used in the production of skin care products due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It is also used to treat dry skin, skin conditions like eczema and stretch marks.
Cocoa butter is also used in making chocolate due to its brittle texture to keep chocolate solid until placed in the mouth.
Cocoa butter is also used by pharmaceuticals in medicine production. It is, moreover, used in the kitchen as an alternative to other kinds of butter and cooking oil.
What are the benefits of cocoa butter?
1. Vitamin K is found in cocoa butter
Vitamin K, like stearic acid, regenerates hair strands and
promotes stronger, thicker regrowth after hair loss. It also boosts the body’s
immune system, by providing the ability to clot blood. Thus healing wounds,
reducing swelling and skin scars.
2. Cocoa butter contains Linoleic acid
Also known as omega 6 or vitamin F. Linoleic acid moisturizes and promotes hair growth, soothes acne, healing skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, premature aging and promotes moisture retention of hair and skin. Among others, it is an effective emulsifier in the formation of soaps.
3. It contains Stearic acid
Cocoa butter contains Stearic acid which is known for purging dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from the skin and hair. Serving as cooking oil, stearic acid in cocoa butter serves as an emulsifying agent that binds water and oil, while helping products steady when stored for a long time.
Stearic acid protects the butter from melting too, by providing a compacted brittle. It likewise conditions hair from damage and softens skin.
4. Cocoa butter has a decent Palmitic acid
The presence of palmitic acid, also known as saturated fatty acid in cocoa butter acts as an emollient that helps to soften the skin, protecting the skin from being dry by forming an oily moisture.
5. Serves as an anti-inflammatory moisturizer
Cocoa butter is a moisturizer that offers relief to skin plagued with burns, dryness, and irritation. It is believed to enhance the body’s immunity by promoting relaxation, and it is gentle enough to use for masseuse and infection treatment without causing further sensitivities.
Moreover, cocoa butter is used on sensitive skin to reduce, prevent and manage the appearance of scars and unwanted marks such as stretch marks. More notably in Africa, it is believed to serve as a protective mask against the hot sun
How is cocoa butter preferred over other moisturizers
cocoa butter is preferred over most moisturizers because it replenishes your skin’s moisture, creating a barrier to protect your skin from moisture loss.
Compared to other oils and creams, cocoa butter tends to be absorbed well without leaving skin greasy, toning your skin smoothly and softly.
It also contains oleic, palmitic and stearic acid to treat eczema, dry skin, stretch marks and wound healing.
How to use cocoa butter?
Cocoa butter can be whisked with other ingredients to prepare a skincare cream at home. You can also choose to use the raw butter on your wounds, eczema, stretch marks and dry skin.
You can also substitute your cooking oil in the kitchen for cocoa butter for sauce and bakery purposes.
Cocoa butter can be mixed with cocoa powder to prepare your own chocolate at home.
Use cocoa butter as the skincare for new babies for a softer and smooth skin.
Risks and warning of using cocoa butter
Cocoa butter in cosmetic products are purposely for external uses. Raw cocoa butter is used for cooking purposes. It is also combined with other ingredients to produce chocolates.
Pure cocoa butter does not contain any harmful ingredients that may cause harm when eaten, however, people should not eat or inject cocoa butter based products for any reason, because it is harmful to health.
Although there are no health risks of eating raw cocoa butter, there are, however, health benefits of eating chocolate; it provides a powerful source of antioxidants, improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
Where can I buy cocoa butter?
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Cocoa butter is an essential commodity used in most skincare products and even in culinary. It’s composed of healthy saturated fatty acids and other ingredients for overall health and healthy skincare.
Although a butter, cocoa butter is healthy and used in keeping chocolate solid. Although it may be in favor of using it on an acne face, its overall skincare benefits cannot be overemphasized.
Cocoa butter is available in …
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