Cocoa butter (Theobroma Cacao – Cocoa – Seed Butter) is a wonderful addition to many lotion and lotion bar recipes. Despite the “butter” designation, this oil is a hard solid at room temperature and is significantly harder than mango and shea butters. Since it is obtained from cocoa beans, it has a gentle odor of chocolate and is a golden tan color. (Both deodorized and “white” cocoa butter are available for those who prefer an unscented and uncolored ingredient).
Cocoa butter is a very stable fat and it is just loaded with antioxidants! In fact, cocoa butter contains a much higher antioxidant concentration then even blueberries and other superfoods. Cocoa butter is excellent for dry skin; it is reputed to provide a barrier that helps retain and restore the moisture in your skin. It is also widely used to reduce stretch marks and scarring.
Cocoa butter has a wonderful tendency to melt at just about skin temperature, which makes it a great addition to lotion bars. Its high content of stearic acid keeps it very solid at room temperature and allows recipes in which it is an ingredient to be firmer and more heat resistant.
Because the stearic acid content of the cocoa butter is high, products made using cocoa butter can develop cocoa butter “beads” if the cocoa butter isn’t tempered to break up excessive crystallization. Tempering is simple to do: heat the cocoa butter slowly in the top of a double boiler, or in a Pyrex container sitting in a pot of water. (Do not use a microwave, as this will not be an effective method of breaking up the crystallization.) As the cocoa butter continues to melt, raise the temperature slowly, over the course of about 45 minutes, until the butter is fully melted. Then immediately stir the cocoa butter up very thoroughly (to break up the crystallization) and cool the cocoa butter as quickly as possible to prevent crystals from re-forming.
It might be helpful to pour the cocoa butter into the cavities of ice cube trays which you then place in the refrigerator for rapid cooling. Once they are hardened, you can pop them out of the ice cube tray and just store them in plastic bags until you are ready to use them. Please just take care to store them in a cool, dark place, so that they don’t melt and recrystallize. If they do melt and recrystallize (which you can easily identify if they lose their ice cube shape!), please just repeat the tempering process to break up the crystallization.