Kokum Butter - is it Better?
This lovely looking collection of plant material is the fruit, seeds, pulp and rinds of the garcenia indica plant. It's edible and has a wide range of culinary uses (for example, a lovely red sherbet ice cream), but despite tempting yumminess, we're not going to talk about food today.
Instead, we're going to have a look at what comes from the seeds of this colorful and exotic plant, because we're going to be getting a little butter happy around here in the coming weeks.
The Tickling of The FancyLotion bars have quite simply re-captured my interest this season. I plan to get a little explorative with a few butters and oils and maybe even introducing an active ingredient or 2.
But before we start concocting lotion-bar goodness, lets' have a look at one of the butters we're going to be working with in the near future: Kokum!
Mangos CousinKokum butter (INCI: Garcinia indica) is a member of the mango family. It grows in India, Africa, and Asia, and if it had a choice, would definitely choose evergreen forests as its ideal place to thrive. It will, however, do quite well in some areas with low rainfall.
Cultivating kokum is about as environmentally friendly as it can be. This sturdy plant does not require any spraying of pesticides or fertilisers in order to yield well.
It's the Seeds We NeedKokum seeds are extremely rich in oil and the butter has a high essential fatty acid content that includes oleic (omega 9), palmitic, and stearic acid content. The butter even has a natural (although small) amount of vitamin F.
Because kokum kernels contain up to 45% – 50% fat, it is getting a bit of attention from the scientific community as a viable alternative to cocoa butter. This paper in Science Direct shows the yield could be vastly improved if production methods are updated.
Meantime, the semi-handmade current production process provides the lovely, rich kokum butter that is available from many cosmetics ingredients suppliers.
As I was researching kokum, I came across this short and informative film documenting the many steps the kernels go through before the butter is ready for shipping. Have a look at the process and you'll appreciate why kokum is a tad pricier than cocoa butter.
Kokum CharacteristicsKokum is a natural skin nurturer and helps soothe dry and damaged skin. The butter has a non-greasy feel that makes it an ideal choice for balms and bars that 'melt in quickly'. If you're making something for a fellow, that's a real plus. Most of the men I have made products for hate any kind of 'greasy feeling'.
Kokum butter's characteristics make it almost interchangeable with cocoa butter when it comes to cosmetics use. The melting point is similar, it is easy to work with and won't 'go grainy' as shea and coconut can tend to do. Kokum is even a great addition to emulsions where it functions quite nicely as a stabiliser and thickener.
Making ScentsWhen working with cosmetics ingredients, scent is always a factor. As much as I love working with cocoa butter (and as lovely as it smells), that chocolatey scent can become a tad overpowering in an unscented product (as most of my male clients will attest to). 'It's a bit heavy-smelling' and 'Can you do something about the way it smells?' are comments I've heard more than once about unscented products containing cocoa butter.
With its discreet, faintly nutty scent, kokum butter doesn't even come close to cocoa butters overpowering richness. I'm looking forward to adding it to lotion bars and maybe even being able to detect the warm, honey-rich scent of the beeswax.
Do TellHave you worked with kokum butter? What did you use it for? What were your experiences with it?
Photo of Kokum above courtesy of Wikipedia