We often get asked how to store Raw, Unrefined Shea Butter correctly, and what the shelf life is, and we decided to write a comprehensive article about this that will help you in preserving the life of this skin wonder.
Shea Butter Shelf Life
The typical shelf life of unrefined shea butter is about 24 months (2 years) from the date of manufacture and packaging. This is an approximate shelf life affected by storage and temperature.
Unrefined shea butter is 100% natural, with no preservatives added, so it can happen that one batch or harvest will give a slightly different shea than another.
When shea butter is in transit from Ghana to the US, or when our shea butter packages are en-route to the different warehouses that serve Amazon and our website sales, temperature control is not possible 100% of the times.
These factors affect how long shea butter can last, however consider that 2 years is the average time you can safely use shea to moisturize and nourish your skin.
How to tell if your Shea Butter has Expired
If it smells rancid, your shea butter is not good any more. However, if you are new to Unrefined, Raw Shea Butter, you may mistake its characteristic nutty and smokey smell for rancidness. We’ll try to expand on this and go over in more detail the difference between rancid smell and smokey smell:
Rancid smell: Makes you gag, reminds you of olive oil gone bad or food gone bad. If your shea butter smells rancid, toss it.
Smokey smell: This is a burnt smell, close to the smell of when you fire up your barbecue or burn wood. Some batches are more nutty/smokey than others, but ALL unrefined shea has a detectable smokey smell. If your shea butter smells smokey, you have the real thing!
Shea Butter Storage – and should you put it in the fridge?
Shea Butter can be stored in several different containers, from a zip lock plastic bag to a plastic container with a lid, to a glass jar or container. Our brand comes sealed in food grade plastic, which is then placed inside a resealable kraft bag. If you use our shea butter, you can simply scoop some out of the plastic wrap, then loosely close the plastic, then place it back in the craft bag and seal that one.
As an alternative, you can scoop it out of the plastic bag and place it in one or more containers of your choice. Plastic containers are lighter and do not break as easily as glass, however glass containers are more insulating and sturdy.
Regardless of the container you use, shea butter should be stored in a pantry, away from direct heat. Do not leave it on a table by a sunny window, close to a stove or heating element.
Consider that when the temperature reaches 75F, shea butter will start to soften up and melt as the temperature rises. If you live in a zone where your home temperature is is higher than 75F, we suggest you place the shea butter in the fridge to avoid continuous melting and solidifying as that will lead to grainy shea butter (see our comprehensive blog about grainy shea and how to fix it).
Unrefined Shea Butter storage and shelf life is easily learned. Stick to our storage tips, and make your shea butter last as long as possible.