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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

How To Melt Shea Butter and Natural Oils for Body Care

by Andrea Butje on April 20, 2015

Create DIY Body Care Products with Essential OilsLearn how to melt shea butter and natural oils so you can make your own body products.

It’s one thing to follow a recipe—and that’s important when you’re creating a product that you want to replicate—but by understanding how to melt natural oils and butters, you’ll be able to get creative. There's no end to the variety of body products you can make!

I made a YouTube video showing you step by step how to melt shea butter and natural oils. My body butter videos are usually exclusive for students of Aromahead’s online Body Butters and Lip Balms class, but I wanted to share it with you all because knowing how to melt natural, raw butters and oils is such an important part of blending.

You can watch the video here and follow along with me, or keep reading (or both!).

The recipe that I make in the video includes:

  • 1 oz (28 gm) Beeswax (Cera alba)
  • 2 oz (56 gm) Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)
  • 2 oz (56 gm) Cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao)
  • 1 oz (28 gm) Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

You’ll also need three 2 oz (60 ml) glass jars, a kitchen scale, a glass stir rod (or stainless steel spoon), a Pyrex measuring cup, and a cooking pot that can hold the Pyrex.

The simplest way to melt shea butter and natural oils is to make your own “double boiler.” Fill your cooking pot about ¼ with water. Bring it to a boil. Place your Pyrex in the pot, but hook the handle over the edge of the pot. You might be surprised at how cool the handle stays as you melt your ingredients!

Let’s talk about the ingredients one by one as we add them to the recipe.

First, melt the beeswax: Measure it out and add it to the Pyrex. We use beeswax in body butter blends because it keeps the other butters and oils blended together. When we make body butters, the texture depends on the ratio between beeswax and other butters and oils. In this blend we want a spreadable, softer texture, so the ratio is 5:1 (5 parts natural butters and oils, to 1 part beeswax). I also use 6:1 for a soft texture.

Let the beeswax melt. Then…

Coconut oilAdd the coconut oil: Coconut oil can withstand a lot of heat, so it’s okay to add it to your Pyrex early on in the melting process.

Add the cocoa butter: Cocoa butter can also withstand heat. Add it to your Pyrex and stir as it melts.

Add the shea butter: Remove the blend from the stove immediately after adding the shea butter. Shea can’t withstand as much heat as beeswax, coconut oil, and cocoa butter (it gets grainy). So just lift the Pyrex out of the pot (the handle should not be burning, but be careful), or leave the Pyrex in but move the pot off the heat, and stir the blend until all the chunks of shea are fully melted. (Tip: The smaller your chunks of shea, the sooner they will melt!)

That’s it for this recipe! Pour it into your jars and let it cool. It should be ready to use in a few hours.

Now, let’s say you want to swap out some ingredients and make a different recipe...

...perhaps one that is used for a specific skin issue. You can absolutely do that by learning the properties of each butter and oil and keeping the textures in mind.

When you learn how to melt shea butter and natural oils, a few main points to remember are:

  • The consistency of the natural butter or oil
  • How much heat it can withstand
  • The therapeutic intention for the butter

If you don’t have cocoa butter, for example, you can swap it out for something with similar properties and a similar firm, chunky texture, such as kpangnan butter.

If you want to learn more about working with natural butters and oils, join me in Aromahead Institute's popular online class, Body Butters and Lip Balms.

I hope you enjoy this great base recipe, which you can adjust to your own preferences and ingredients. Have fun blending!

Moisturizing Body Oil With Ylang Ylang

Andrea Butje is an internationally-recognized Aromatherapist who has changed the educational paradigm through her inspired approach to teaching essential oils and Aromatherapy Certification. Check out her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy, at Aromatics International!

Topics: coconut oil, aromatherapy carriers, Recipes and Blends, beeswax, carrier oils, cocoa butter, shea butter

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