Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is a rich, creamy vegetable fat that is extracted from cocoa beans. It is widely used for its smooth texture and sweet, delicate flavor in all kinds of foods from chocolate to pastries to cosmetics. 

However, one downside of working with pure cocoa butter is its tendency to solidify and harden at room temperature into a rigid, difficult-to-manage solid. This hardening presents issues when using liquid cocoa butter for baking, skincare, and more. 

Luckily, with a few tips on temperature control, storage, mixing, and remelting methods, it is possible to keep cocoa butter in a softened, spreadable form.

Why Cocoa Butter Hardens?

The reason why cocoa butter hardens so readily is due to its unique fatty acid composition. Cocoa butter contains a high proportion of saturated fats, meaning the fat molecules can pack tightly together, forming stable crystals that are solid at typical room temperatures. 

Precisely, cocoa butter consists of 25-37% palmitic acid and 33-37% stearic acid. These two saturated fats have high melting points of 62°C and 70°C, respectively. In addition, cocoa butter contains 25-37% oils like oleic acid that remain liquid at room temperature. 

So, cocoa butter is actually a mixture of solid and liquid fats, but around two-thirds of it is made up of saturated solids.

Besides its natural composition, cocoa butter’s tendency to harden also arises when it crystallizes during storage and when exposed to cool temperatures. In its liquid state, the fat molecules float freely around, but given the right conditions, they can pack into rigid crystals that eventually form a solid mass. 

Improper processing and storage provide optimal conditions for this undesirable crystallization.

Tips to Prevent Cocoa Butter From Hardening

Controlling its temperature exposure is the number one way to keep cocoa butter liquid. Cocoa butter melts below human body temperature, around 90–93°F / 32–34°C. 

So, it must be kept at warm room temperatures to remain fluid. Any exposure to temperatures below 75°F / 24°C can cause it to start solidifying.

To prevent cocoa butter from hardening, store it in the warmest spot in your home, such as near appliances like the refrigerator or oven, which give off heat. 

Store it in cold places like the refrigerator or freezer only if essential for long-term storage. Even brief cold exposure causes cocoa butter to crystallize rapidly.

If your cocoa butter does end up hardened, the good news is that it melts rapidly back into liquid when heated. Fully melt hardened cocoa butter via gentle heating before using it in recipes or for skincare.

Use Proper Storage Containers & Techniques

It's not enough just to keep cocoa butter somewhere warm. You must also store it in containers that protect it from cold air and excess crystallization.

Air-tight, opaque containers are best for storing cocoa butter in long. Glass jars or stainless steel containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent air exposure. Opaque containers also protect against light exposure, which can encourage crystallization.

For long-term hardness prevention, it’s also best to store cocoa butter in smaller batches rather than in large quantities. When combined with air-tight storage, small batches limit oxygen exposure and make it easier to keep the cocoa butter fully melted when you reheat it.

Mix Cocoa Butter With Other Oils

Using pure 100% cocoa butter makes hardening inevitable. However, combining it with other liquid oils lowers its melting point, making it easier to keep fluid. 

The more oils like coconut oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, etc that you mix in, the softer and more spreadable your cocoa butter blend will be.

Generally, a mix containing equal thirds of cocoa butter, moderately soft oils like soybean or sunflower oil, and very fluid oils like fractionated coconut or jojoba oil results in a creamy, spreadable butter. 

But you can customize ratios to achieve your desired texture and properties. Avoid adding more than 50% hard oils like palm oil, or you risk raising the melting point too much.

Add Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers help bind mixtures of oils and water, preventing separation. They also have the benefit of securing fat molecules together evenly, preventing crystallization.

Lecithin is an excellent emulsifier to add to cocoa butter, generally at a ratio of about 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of butter. Other options include polysorbate 80, glycerin, or cetearyl alcohol, which help fluid oils mix evenly with solid butter.

Check for Rancidity

Sometimes, cocoa butter can harden not just due to crystallization but also because it has gone rancid from oxidization and decomposition over time. Rancid fats take on unappetizing, bitter flavors and may smell off.

Signs your hardened cocoa butter is rancid include:

  • Unpleasant, bitter aroma
  • Dark brown color
  • Translucent appearance
  • Watery beads of fluid when melted

If your cocoa butter shows rancidity, it can often be safely remelted to remove impurities before use. 

How to Properly Remelt Hardened Cocoa Butter?

When stored cocoa butter does inevitably harden up, follow these tips to melt it back to liquid form gently:

Use a Double Boiler

The safest method is using a double boiler, which gently heats delicate ingredients like chocolate. Add your hardened cocoa butter to the top pan, suspended above simmering water in the bottom pot. Stir frequently until melted smooth. Keep the heat low to prevent burning or further breakdown of unstable fats.

Microwave in Short Bursts

You can also use the microwave to remelt in 30-second bursts, stirring vigorously in between. Make sure there are no remaining solid bits before removing them.

Avoid Overheating

Be careful not to overheat cocoa butter above 115°F/46°C degrees in a double boiler or microwave. This can adversely affect its quality and texture. Overheated cocoa butter tends to re-harden quicker afterward as well.

Check the Temperature

Use a chocolate or oil thermometer to check your melted cocoa butter reaches 90–92°F/32–33°C. This ensures proper fluidity and that the crystalline structure has been eliminated without excess heat damage.

Stir Frequently

Vigorous yet careful stirring helps expedite even melting and prevent overheated spots.


The unique composition of cocoa butter makes it prone to frustrating hardening at room temperature. But with deliberate temperature control, proper storage methods, mixing with fluid oils, and careful remelting techniques, it is possible to keep cocoa butter smoothly spreadable for all your baking, skin care, and consumption needs. 

The keys are protecting it from cool temperatures, limiting air exposure in small batches, and fully melting hardened bits before use.

With the tips provided here, you can have delicious, creamy cocoa butter ready whenever inspiration strikes for creating chocolate confections, soothing skin balms, frothy milkshakes, or decadent desserts galore. 

No more struggling to manage rock-hard cocoa butter ruining your recipes. Remember the importance of keeping your precious cocoa butter supply warm and completely melted for any preparation or storage method. 

Follow these guidelines; pure cocoa butter can be a pleasure rather than a pain to bake, whip, and lather with.

Cocoa butter