Thursday, September 23, 2010

Experiments in the workshop: Using black cocoa butter in a scrub bar.

Randi of Creations from Eden sent me this amazing black African Natural cocoa butter. It's so much easier to chop into little pieces than regular cocoa butter because it's softer with a lower melting point. My knife just cut into this cocoa butter - normally, I wish for a hammer when I'm breaking up cocoa butter for a recipe! - and it melts very quickly in the double boiler. 

Naturally, I had to make myself a solid scrub bar with salt for my shower. I found it melted a lot quicker than my normal scrub bars, but that made it deposit a lot more cocoa butter deliciousness on my skin, and I could still smell the faint yumminess of Cream Cheese Frosting fragrance oil after work. The 60 gram bar will last me two showers instead of three, but I think it worth it for the lovely moisturizing I felt all day! The only down side is that you will end up with some brownish spots on your shower - just spray them with the nozzle and they'll disappear.

I think I'm going to package these for Christmas gifting with a drizzle of pink or purple mica on top and put them in a cellophane bag to make them look like a big bonbon! I will also include a sign that says in giant pink letters DO NOT EAT because it looks and smells amazing (I know, I take terrible pictures, but it really looks lovely). 

If you want the bar to be a bit harder, use 30% black cocoa butter and 20% regular cocoa butter and use a harder butter for the other 20%. I'd go with mango or one of the other exotic butters over shea as that will be far too soft.

50% cocoa butter
20% mango, shea or other butter
3% cetyl alcohol
4% Incroquat BTMS or Incroquat CR
2% wax of choice - beeswax, soy wax, etc. For candellia wax, please use 1% as it is very hard.
3% sodium lactate (as a bar hardener, optional)
12% oils
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
1% fragrance oil
1% Vitamin E (if you are using oils with less than 6 months' shelf life)

Add up to 100% sugar, salt, beads, seeds, loofah, and so on. It really is your preference. If you are using sugar, you may need to add more than 100% because the sugar will melt into the warm oils - if you can stand the waiting, let it cool a bit before adding the sugar. You can add the salt right away into the hot oils. It will melt slightly, but not enough to be concering. Clay and jojoba beads will melt in the hot oils so you will need to let the mixture cool a lot - they really aren't a great choice here because you'll have to wait so long, the bar might actually solidify while you're waiting for the right temperature. Personally, I'd leave those for oil based or emulsified scrubs.

To modify this for your feet, check out this post (scroll down a bit after the click). And if you want some information on other modifications, click here and scroll down a bit.

I'm making a sugar scrub with this cocoa butter next!


frédérique said...

Hello Susan, I'm sorry my comment have nothing to see with the bar. I sent you an e-mail about using plain Btms in your leave-in recipe (not Btms incroquat), it's possible?
best regards,frédérique

Lynda said...


What kind of mold do you put these in? And what kind of shelf life? I'd love to make these for Christmas presents but don't want to make them too soon. Thanks.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lynda. I use a Milky Way domed mold (five compartments) and they end up being about 90 grams. I do have a smaller version that will make 45 to 50 gram bars.

The shelf life should be at least a year given the ingredients I've used, but this will vary depending upon your oils. I like to use olive oil for the humectant-y qualities and soy bean oil for the super moisturizing abilities. If you use something like grapeseed oil, you'll have a shelf life of less than three months; use something like olive or avocado oil, and you'll have a year or so. If you add Vitamin E, you can extend the shelf life a little longer.

I'd make them in November or so and wrap them up tight for Christmas gifting! I generally make my presents the last week of November or first week of December, but I'm not sending mine my post anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan. Thank you for this post. I would like to know if I could replace the sodium lactate with more wax?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. Sure. Just increase something else.

Rochelle said...

Hi Susan, I would really like to try this and I'm very curious to try this with the black cocoa butter, but in looking around at a couple of the usual places I find butters and can't seem to find it anywhere. Do you have a link to someone that carries it, I would love to try this!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Rochelle. The only place I've found it is at Creations from Eden. Click on the link in the post!

Lorraine said...

Hi Susan,
I read recently that there is no such thing as black/brown cocoa butter - it's just cocoa butter mixed with cocoa powder. See this link from Shea Butter Cottage, who source directly from Ghana. Http://

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lorraine. Here is what she says if you follow the link...
Q: Does Ghana produce brown/black cocoa butter?
A: Erm, NO. I have come across such butter and decided to investigate in June 2010 during my visit to Ghana. I conducted my own research which was supported by that of a cocoa expert. We both came to the conclusion that brown cocoa butter is actually cocoa butter + cocoa powder.
As an experiment for the mad "kitchen chemist" in me, I decided to try and reproduce this. I melted 50g of cocoa butter to which I added 2g of cocoa powder and viola - I had brown cocoa butter!

Just want to point out that (a) the comment is that Ghana doesn't produce brown/black cocoa butter and (b) it's speculation that brown/black cocoa butter is made in that way. This is the writer's opinion - she is using her personal experiences as the basis for this writing - so we can't extrapolate it to mean there is no such thing as black/brown cocoa butter, only that she hasn't heard of it being produced in Ghana and that she thinks it's made a certain way.

In the post on Creations from Eden where I bought this ingredient, Randi notes, "It contains cocoa liquor which is normally removed in the further processing of typical cocoa butter. This is the natural state before it is physically fractionated into regular cocoa butter and cocoa liquor." The colour in this product could come from cocoa liquor, not cocoa powder. (Although I'm not picky about how it's made! It smells like chocolate!) There were a few other sites I found, but they all said pretty much the same thing.

Can I be honest? I'm not sure why this is an issue. I did a search to see what others think of it, and it doesn't seem like there are any miraculous things attributed to the product other than being slightly softer and smelling of chocolate. If it's cocoa butter and cocoa powder, then I'm happy with that. If it's made through another process, I'm happy with that, too. I'm not sure what claims are being made about this product - I'm making the claim that I like using it and it works well for me.

If you could shed some light on this topic, I'd be more than happy to listen. I'm confused as to why this ingredient might be of issue, and I'm curious why the owner of the online shop (the quote above) is bringing this up.

Lorraine said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for the response! I always enjoy your blog very much and have learned a lot from it.
The black/brown cocoa butter isn't an issue, I was just under the impression that it wasn't a 'pure' ingredient (if it needed to be combined with cocoa powder) and that this might be a reason why people might not be able to find it in online stores. I also thought the fact that it was mixed with cocoa powder might explain why it was softer than other cocoa butter? I'm interested in where some of these natural ingredients come from and how they're produced and hadn't before heard of black/brown cocoa butter (apart from in the link I posted above) so thought it interesting that it might be mixed with cocoa powder and then sold as pure unadulterated cocoa butter. However, I stand corrected! :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Lorraine! I don't think you stand corrected - there was nothing to correct! We're having a discussion, so there's no right or wrong here. Thanks for bringing this up - it's interesting!

There are loads of butters that aren't really butters - look for those that contain hydrogenated vegetable oil - like avocado, soy, shea-aloe, and so on, but they are sold widely. I'm not sure why black cocoa butter isn't. I can tell you that I think it has limited usage in our products as you don't really want to use it for a leave on product given the colour! But it's great for things like scrubs! What do you think?