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Depending on the light, heat and humidity in your kitchen, butter should be okay left outside the fridge for a couple days. Glass or ceramic butter dishes will keep butter fresher longer. Keeping butter wrapped in wax paper or in plastic will also extend butter's freshness.
Rancid butter is the result of oxidizing fat. Do not eat if your butter tastes bitter or smells/ tastes stale. Salted butter will also keep longer than unsalted, because the salt acts as a preservative.
There are French butter dishes that will keep butter fresh for about a month. They are two parts, the top contains the butter and the bottom water. The water keep the butter from being oxidized, which breaks down the butter. French butter dishes are centuries old and were used long before refrigeration.