Friday, July 9, 2010

Back to basics: Whipped butters

Whipped butters are so impressive but so darned easy to make! They might seem all complicated with their whippiness, but they're simple to make if you have a mixer with a whisk attachment. (I bought my Black & Decker 250 watt mixer for $20 from Canadian Tire with two whisk attachments! I'm sure you could find a similar deal at other big box retailers.)

This recipe is rated E for everyone, but is especially fantastic for beginners, those who don't wish to use preservatives, or those who are seeking an all natural product. The shelf life of this product is dependent upon the shelf life of your oil.

80% hard butter
20% oil

80% hard butter
18% oil
1% Vitamin E (optional)
1% fragrance or essential oil (optional)

Weigh the hard butter and oil in a heat proof container and melt slightly in a double boiler or microwave. When the butter has melted slightly - you can tell because it'll look melted and probably has a bit of oil around it - remove it from the heat and add your fragrance oil and Vitamin E (optional). Start whipping! Whip until it has doubled in size. Spoon into jars and rejoice. It will harden over the next few hours. Enjoy!

If you have melted it too much, put it in the fridge for a bit and let it harden a little bit before whipping. Some butters - like ultra-refined shea - can be whipped without heating.

If you want to make this extra cute, I suggest spooning the whipped butter into a piping bag with a 1M icing tip and making a little swirl at the top of the jar, leaving enough room that you don't squish the whipped butter when you put the lid on the container. (Quite clearly, I didn't leave enough room!) Let it harden before putting on the lid!

For your hard butter, you'll want to choose something like shea, mango, babassu, mowrah, or murumuru butter. Cocoa or cocoa butter substitutes like illipe, kokum, or sal butters will be far too hard for a whipped butter, so if you like those butters, you'll want to use them at lower levels and combine them with higher levels of oil. (Find that recipe here.)

As I'm trying to take this recipe back to basics, I'll be working with ingredients easily available at most, if not all, suppliers...

First, choose your butter. If you like a greasier feeling butter, then go with shea butter. If you like a drier feeling butter, then go with mango butter.

Next, choose your oil. There are literally dozens of choices for oils and this post could be pages and pages long if I went through every choice, but there are three considerations - skin feel, benefits of the oil, and shelf life. (See below for a few ideas...)

Given you have 80% butters in this recipe, adding 20% of a really dry feeling oil like hazelnut to shea butter will make your butter feel a little less greasy. Adding 20% of a greasier feeling oil like sunflower will make it feel a little more greasy, so choose your butter according to skin feel. As well, choose it according to the weight. It isn't going to make a huge difference - the butter will already feel weighty on your skin, so adding a heavy weight oil like olive oil won't make it feel super heavy on your skin compared to fractionated coconut oil, but it's still a consideration.

I think the main reason for choosing your oil should be the benefits it offers your to skin. Olive oil can behave as a humectant, drawing water from the atmosphere to your skin. Some oils contain more Vitamin E or phytosterols or other lovely things you might want in a whipped butter. In this version, I wanted oils that would benefit my husband's itchy skin, so I chose my oils accordingly. And in these versions, I chose oils for dry and aging skin, incredibly dry skin, and winter exposed skin.

And consider the shelf life of your oil. If you are choosing something like grapeseed or hempseed oil, you have a shelf life of 3 to 6 months maximum. You'll want to include the Vitamin E to extend that shelf life further. Most butters have a shelf life of 2 years or more, so choosing an oil with a long shelf life can make for a whipped butter that can last a long time!

Here are a few oil choices I like. You'll find more on the oil reference page...
  • rice bran oil (shelf life: 9 months to 1 year), medium weight oil, nice balance of oleic and linoleic acids, loads of Vitamin E, and can help with inflammation.
  • soy bean oil (shelf life: 6 months to 1 year), light to medium weight oil, high in linoleic acids, loads of Vitamin E, incredibly moisturizing, and can help with inflammation.
  • fractionated coconut oil (shelf life: up to 2 years), very light weight, very moisturizing but not a lot of vitamins, phytosterols, or polyphenols, non-staining for sheets or fabrics, and it's absorbed by our skin easily. 
  • sesame oil (shelf life: 9 to 12 months), light to medium weight oil, balance of oleic and linoleic acids, good moisturizing properties, good anti-inflammatory properties, low in Vitamin E, won't stain fabrics or sheets
  • macadamia nut oil (shelf life: 1 year ) light to medium weight oil, high in oleic acids, good moisturizing properties, high in anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties, high in squalene, which is a great moisturizer and helps with chapped skin. Low in Vitamin E. 
Having said all of this, you can choose your oils based on what you have in your workshop and be happy with it! The swirled version you see above is a mixture of what we made in craft group, so it's about 40% shea butter, 40% mango butter, 10% olive oil, and 10% rice bran oil, and it feels just awesome (we made one version with shea and rice bran and another with mango and olive oil, and I just put together what was left over!). I personally like to make an 80% ultra refined shea butter, 19% fractionated coconut oil, and 1% fragrance oil version, but I like my stuff really greasy. And you know I love the babassu version! (Feel free to try the babassu version with any other butter or oil - the babassu is really awesome!)

Finally, choose whether or not you want to include a fragrance or essential oil. I find 1% in a whipped butter to be a nice level. If you choose an essential oil, please be sure to use it at a safe level and consider whether it is safe for pregnant or nursing women, children, or other people who might be sensitive to it.

If you enjoyed making whipped butter, may I suggest these posts from the past for further reading?
Join me tomorrow for more back to basics - lotion bars.


Tara said...

What are the driest oils and butters that you know of?

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

These are a great direction to go in. Everyone can use a brushup on basics and butters can be so much fun. Add silicone, no. What about Allantoin? Always a plus for me. I like preservative cause people always do strange things with their stuff. So phenohip could be a whole discussion in and of itself. What about adding something a little harder, like 1% beeswax? I can't make that go and can't figure out why. Of course I was doing thirteen things at the time, so the problem was probably me. Basics are good. Oh, I just bought a little Acai butter for me and me alone. This might be a nice thing to do with it.

Lissa said...

Nacy - Allantoin is water soluable so unless you are making a heavy cream/body butter with water I believe the Allantoin will not incorporate into the product.

*Tip if you don't have a pastry bag
Use a heavy weight plastic baggie. Fill with whipped butter and cut a tiny hole at one corner at the end. If I end up with more product I can save the rest inside the piping bag and place this into a new baggie - refridgerate. Easy.
Susan, Thanks again for your hard work.

p said...

Thanks for this post, Susan! I've never gotten around to making whipped butter, in part because the instructions I've found on other sites never made sense to me - usually the procedure starts with melting the butter completely and then whip as it cools, and I know from experience that shea butter can take *days* to harden at room temp, so I never understood how whipping was supposed to play out. Now I know to only melt it very slightly - thanks!

Incidentally, why is it that shea butter takes so very long to harden? And why is it that mango butter takes a few days to reach its full hardness (even if you put it in the fridge to harden)? What's going on with those fats?

I was also wondering about whipping babassu - the babassu I bought is pretty soft, like extra virgin coconut oil. If you can whip babassu, can you whip coconut oil?

When you say mixer with a whisk attachment, is this different from the regular beaters (i.e. not the dough hook, but nothing special?)? Just wondering if I need special equipment or if my normal hand mixer will do the job!

Thanks for the motivation to finally make a whipped butter - it's on my docket for the next month!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Tara. I'd say the driest butter I've used is mango - compared to cocoa and shea. As for oils, borage is quite dry, as is camellia oil. Out of the carrier oils, I've found hazelnut and macadamia nut to be very dry. I'm not a fan of the dry oils - I do like a bit of glide to my products. If you want to increase the dryness, you can add a little IPM (about 2%) to your products.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nancy! Lissa's right - you can't use allantoin in anhydrous products, but you could use aloe butter or aloe oil to get some into your whipped butters or lotion bars. As for putting beeswax in a whipped butter, just melt it down and add it to the melted mix and whip the heck out of it!

Hi Lissa! Great suggestion about the baggies! I always have piping bags around the house for the craft groups (and I have a serious cupcake addiction - both making and eating them) so I don't think about alternatives!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi p! I'm not sure why shea and mango butter take time to harden - I've not had that experience. I've found that a few hours is more than enough at room temperature. Both should harden in a short period of time due to the high amounts of stearic acid in the butters. Do you live in a warm area?

When it comes to incorporating coconut oil, I wouldn't make an all coconut oil whipped butter because the melting point is so low at 76˚F! Right now, we're getting to 78˚F without any effort in the house, and my coconut oil and babassu have turned to liquid. So you could, in theory, whip coconut oil, but you'd have to take into consideration the season. I'd whip it with some other butter (I like a shea butter/coconut oil combination). Or you could add some cetyl alcohol or beeswax or stearic acid to up the melting point of the butter.

As for the whisk attachment, I mean the balloony whisk attachment, not the beater attachment that might come with your Kitchenaid or hand mixer. Normal beaters will make the mixture fluffy, but for serious fluffiness and whippiness, the wire whisk attachments work best!

I'm glad you're making whipped butters! That's my goal for this series - to get people to take a second look at the anhydrous products!

p said...

Thanks for the reply, Susan! That's so bizarre that you haven't had the experience of shea butter taking ages to solidify at room temp - I thought that was just the way shea is! And mango butter taking a while to reach its final hardness. I truly wonder what I'm doing differently! I definitely don't live in a warm area, alas, and I've had this happen even in the winter indoors heated to, I dunno, 70 F, well below the melting point of shea. One of my books has a recipe for a shea & oil balm; the author says the balm can take hours, even days, to solidify at room temp, so she recommends putting it in the fridge to harden, but she doesn't explain why.

I've got a question for you... what is it that makes butters whippable? Is it just that they're soft but solid at room temp? Could I whip an oil & beeswax (no butter) balm? Just curious!!


Roxine said...

Hi Susan,

If I wanted to add preservatives to this, do I add the recommended usage amount based on the total product weight. So sa, .05% of the butter made with the oils and FO? Or is the percentage of preservative I use a part of the total 100% of the final product, so i would take .5% off somewhere else, like in my oils. I hope I don't sound too stupid here...

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
When making whipped butters - say if I'm using shea butter and grapeseed oil - and shea butter has a shelf life of a year or so and grapeseed oil has a shelf life of 3 to 6 months... will my final product take on the shelf life of the butter of the oil? And if it takes on the shorter shelf life, why does that happen?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Roxine. You don't need preservatives in a whipped butter, but you could use an anti oxidant. (See the links below as to why...)

Hi Anonymous. (There's a longer explanation for this in the post...) When you use an oil with a shelf life of three months, it means that oil will be rancid by that point. You can't use the product because it's going to smell very bad. So if you use grapeseed oil in this recipe, in three months, you will have a rancid product. It will make the entire product rancid.

Here are some posts that might interest you (and there are more in the FAQ - look to the list on your right!)

Chemistry of triglycerides
Chemistry of fatty acids
Mechanisms of rancidity
Rancidity: A primer

Lauren said...

So I tried my hand at making some whipped butter last night. It was harder than I thought it would be. First I melted the oils more than I probably should have, so I had to pop it into the freezer for maybe 20 minutes. After trying to whip it with my stick blender for a good 10 minutes I started getting worried. Eventually I figured out that if I alternated whipping the hell out of it with putting it in the freezer for a few minutes I eventually got it to whip. The last attempt, my butter came out of the freezer with the top layer almost solid with everything underneath liquid, and that seemed to do it. Just a tip for anyone having trouble!

I actually have a question, and hopefully this post isn't too old. What are we actually doing to the oils that make it whip and stay that way? Are we changing the molecular bonds of the oils? Are we just incorporating air? When it melts back down, would the bonds then just be shifting back again with no negative effects?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lauren. What you're talking about is a state change - that is, the chemical properties of a thing, like melting point - versus a physical change - that is, the physical properties of a thing, like being liquid or solid. (More on this topic in this post - Chemistry Thursday: Chemical changes). In this case, we're just adding air to the ingredients to make it more whippy, the way you would with something like whipped cream or cake icing. You're not making any changes to it, just adding air.

Anonymous said...

So if my oils last up to 1 year and we add Vitamin E as an anti oxidant, how much longer could it last before going rancid, would you say?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Erinwray2. Check out today's Weekend Wonderings for the answer to your question. The short answer is that we don't know exactly how long, but we know it is longer.

Anonymous said...

Great thank you! I read your post. I'm thinking maybe to make a body butter instead (with water and preservative) As I'm using rosehip oil, so I'd have to make a smaller batch in a whipped butter to have it last enough time to use it all. Though I was reading one of your other posts where you used it and it said about 6mths.. And looking at the supplier (voyageur) it said up to 1 year. SO I'm thinking better safe to make a body butter maybe.

Nia Hafsia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jillian said...

Hi Susan,

I've made a couple of whipped butters in the past that turned out pretty well, considering I'm new to this. I tried the 80% shea butter recipe above last night. I used sunflower and sweet almond oils w/it. Well, this time I used refined shea butter because I don't like the smell of unrefined. I just bought the shea butter from someone on etsy (I don't know if the quality is a factor in what happened). Anyway, I put the melted shea butter and oils in the fridge to harden a bit. Then, I whipped it up and as I did so, it looked amazing. But after finishing the whipping, it began to harden. Now it's in containers and it feels/looks exactly like the shea butter did on its own. Disappointing! Any suggestions? I used a lot less butter in the other whipped butter recipes in the past.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jillian. If you have found success with other recipes and don't like mine, then try those other ones again with some tweaks.

Dana said...

Hi, I love your posts and can't stop reading:) Would this work if I added some aloe, ewax and a tad of lecithin? I love the idea of whipped butters but find them a tad too greasy regardless of what oils I use. I thought if I added the above it may make it a tad less greasy. I would need to adjust the ingredients to equal 100% . Thanks for your inspiration!!

Anna Walker said...

Hi! I made this last night using mango butter and some light oils. This morning it was no longer whipped but had become hard. Any tips for getting it back to being whipped and fluffy as staying that way?
Also, my AC was running -- maybe it was too cool for it to stay whippy?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Dana! Sure, try it. See what you think. My two cents? If you're going to all that trouble, consider making a lotion. You could make quite a dry feeling body butter!

Hi Anna! This will harden up if you are using butters at 70% to 90% or so because they are the bulk of the product. Try lowering your butter and see if it stays more whippy and less hard. (But this is completely normal!)

Selah said...

Hi, thanks for the awesome post. I have a question that I was hoping you might have some insight on. I would like to make a whipped body butter with just these ingredients: coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin e oil and essential oils. Would you happen to know a good ratio to use for a whipped body butter like that?

FWIW: I made one yesterday that had a slightly too thick consistency, but it was also super greasy/oily and took about 20 minutes for it to fully soak in to the skin. I was hoping to find a ratio for beeswax/coconut oil that would end up in a smoother finished product that is less oily. thank you in advance!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Selah. I'm planning to answer your question as Saturday, September 13th's Weekend Wondering. Take a look for it there!

Febe said...

I would like to make a butter similar to what is asked for in recipes I've seen. For instance, one recipe I have calls for a hemp butter blend. I linked to the ingredient in the recipe and it is a hemp and hydrogenated oil mix. I am wondering how would I make that butter blend instead of purchasing it? I've seen avocado butter, coffee butter, and Argon butter, etc. What I see is that an oil is mixed with an oil and then you get butter! I am guessing you heat and cool and then whip the ingredients together. If that is all there is - well, then, it can be done! Studying your very basic body butter, 80% butter and 18% oil, 1% vitamin E just might be the right ratios. What do you think? The recipe i am considering is 72.8% distilled water; 7.58% hemp seed butter blend; 7.58% hemp seed oil; 4.85% emulsifying wax; 3.88% steric acid; 0.76% vitamin E; 1% preservative; 1.52% fragrance.

Thank you in advance for our thought and comments on this!