Cocoa butter is one of the special ingredients we use for our natural soaps which has a special appeal. Also called theobroma oil, cocoa butter is a pale-yellow, edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean. It is used to make chocolate, as well as some ointments, toiletries, and pharmaceuticals. Cocoa butter has a cocoa flavor and aroma. Its best-known attribute is its melting point, which is just below human body temperature. Apart from being used for making chocolate, it is also used very often in skin lotions, lip glosses, chapsticks and other beauty ointments. So it is impossible not to love it. We confess we do.
The cocoa tree has been around since the dawn of man. The first recordings of the cocoa tree come from before 1000 B.C. The South American Indians were the first people to use the cocoa tree. But the Mayan and Aztec civilizations were the biggest users of chocolate. It would become the staple of Mayan civilization. The Mayans were the first civilization to cultivate the cocoa tree. It was called Xocoatl by the Mayans and it is a common legend that the cocoa bean was a sacred gift from the Mayan and Aztec Gods. Cocoa beans were also the currency of the age in Mayan civilization.
Although Columbus did find the cocoa bean first, when Hernando Cortez visited and conquered the Aztecs, he brought back chocolate to Europe. From there, the European cocoa trees slowly migrated east to oriental countries. Soon, the cocoa plant and chocolate drink were an international delicacy. Between the 1500s to the 1700s, the chocolate craze swept Europe. Chocolate became so popular, that Pope Pius V declared that drinking chocolate did not break the rules of a famine.
In 1570, chocolate was first started to be used as a medicine, and even as an aphrodisiac. Chocolate houses became popular in England.
Cocoa butter was not really used as a massage butter until 1828 when a scientist named Conrad Von Houten invented the cocoa press. The cocoa press extracted a more pure chocolate.
Surprisingly enough, the one country that had difficulty accepting chocolate was France. The French Court did not trust the foreign beverage and were going to ban the import of the cocoa bean. The ban was prevented only by the mandate of the Queen, Anne of Austria. Later, the French Court would change their opinion.
The first chocolate candies were produced during WWI. The soldiers needed energy quickly and chocolate provides immediate energy. Candy was designed so that soldiers could carry that energy boost with them. Today, chocolate is still one of the most popular consumables created. The United States Army even provides chocolate in rations. Cocoa butter is just as popular as chocolate.
Only recently has the medicinal properties of cocoa butter been revealed. Now, millions of people use cocoa to heal their skin or just relax. And that brings us to...
Properties and uses
Cocoa butter is a multitasker, performing all of them close to perfection. First of all, cocoa butter is high in antioxidants, which help fight off free-radical damage to the skin. Free radicals can cause skin aging, dark patches, and dull skin. Protecting your skin from free-radical damage is a must if you want to keep it healthy and youthful-looking. Cocoa butter is also anti-inflammatory, which is another way it helps your skin resist the ravages of time and it is also reputed to help heal scars. High in fatty acids, it hydrates the skin deeply, making it a wonderful addition to body moisturizers and lip balms. It contains oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids, all of which nourish the skin.