Master plant: Theobroma cacao L.
Sterculiaceae (Cacao family)
INCI: Theobroma cacao butter
Originally the cacao-tree was native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. The colonization of the 17th and 18th century led to the spreading to South-East Asia and Africa. Already the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas regarded cocoa as precious food, as well as a base for nursing means and ointments. Today the cacao-tree is found worldwide in tropical areas.
The cultivation of the cacao-tree is very laborious. The ripe fruits have to be harvested by hand. They are approx. 15 cm long, yellow to reddish-brown and contain approx. 60 seeds.
The fat is obtained by cold-pressing of the roasted seeds.
Characteristics and subtances:
The refined cocoa butter in general is solid at room temperature and has butter-like consistency (melting point approx. 30 - 35 °C), and approx. 30 - 38% of oleic acid, as well as 55 - 68% of saturated fatty acids (above all palmitic and stearic acid).
It also contains more than 30 different phytosterols and triterpene alcohols which are antibacterial and wound healing and are important components of the corneal layer of the skin.
The application of the cocoa butter ranges from food industry where it is used as addition in chocolates and as a component of nougat. The exterior use occurs in the medical and pharmaceutical area, i.e. as a base of ointments and suppositories, patches and lozenges.
However, the main area of application is in cosmetics and skin-care. It is especially used for dry, cracked and sensitive skin and is used in lip care pencils, lotions and creams.
Due to the high content of fat, cacao butter enhances skin elasticity and reduces the formation of wrinkles.
Also used in soap production.