Shea butter: how to differentiate between fresh, raw Shea butter and old/poor quality Shea butter

Everybody is buzzing about Shea butter (us included!) but how can you tell if what you've purchased is the real deal?

When buying Shea butter you should look for a product that is raw, unrefined/unprocessed and ethically sourced. Here are some things to look for to make sure that your Shea butter is top grade.


Your Shea butter should NOT be hard. Despite what many people think, pure, raw and unrefined Shea butter should not come in blocks! It is a butter after all. It should be smooth and easily spreadable, and it should melt easily when rubbed between your fingers and hands. You should never have to microwave or heat your Shea butter to make it usable.


Here's the deal, raw Shea butter has a very distinct smell. It's earthy, nutty and some might describe it as slightly smokey. Many commercially bought Shea butters don't smell like anything: that's not a good thing. Shea butter naturally has a very characteristic smell, and that's because the kernels that come from the Shea tree are roasted before they are crushed and worked to become what we know as Shea butter. Some claim that their Shea butter is all natural, and it may be, but they leave out one important detail: that it has additives. When a Shea butter has no smell, preservatives and stabilizers have probably been added to it. In the end, these are chemicals and their effects on the properties of the Shea butter have not yet been studied. In addition, preservatives have lately become an area of health concern, as some have been noted to be carcinogenic.


Shea butter can be yellow, or ivory. The most important thing to look for is that there are no grey or green residues in your Shea butter, as those may indicate that the butter is moldy (yup, mold!) or has gone bad. An orange Shea butter may be old, and very white butters tend to be highly refined. They may still be "all natural" but the refining process tends to strip the butter off of it's healing properties.

Heat sensitivity

Unrefined Shea butter is very sensitive to heat and sudden changes in temperature, due to its low melting point. A melted butter may spill out of the jar (and create a bit of a mess!) but the fact that it did melt when subjected to a hot environment just indicates that the butter is indeed the real deal. The only way to prevent Shea butter from melting in a hot environment, is to add stabilizers, waxes and other chemicals and that is something that we will never do.

No worries at all though, your butter will re-solidify as soon as it's put in a cooler environment.

Please note that the quality and healing properties of our products are not affected by melting.

(To learn more about how we keep our Shea butter from melting during shipping in the summer season, check out this blog post.)

Here's a quick guide to sum it up:


Smells nutty and slightly smokey

Ivory (off-white) or light yellow

No traces of grey or green residues

Spreadable and smooth

Soft enough to easily scoop with finger


Has no smell

Smells rubbery or rancid

Very white or very/dark yellow

Yellow or ivory, with a grayish or green tone

Hard and can only be cut into chunks with knife, or scraped

Needs to be externally heated to be workable/usable

Not spreadable, hard or crumbly

We're so glad you're here.

Welcome to the world of Shea butter, we know you will love it as much as we do!

To view our raw, unrefined, pure and ethically sourced Shea butter, click here.


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