Widely used in the west in cosmetics due to its renowned skin softening and anti-inflammatory properties. Avon widely uses this in it's products, but I thought you may find it interesting how Shea Butter is made.
Shea butter has significantly increased in popularity over the last decade.
BUT what is truly amazing is the process of how it is made. Very little has changed over hundreds of years. Even in the 21st century, it is nearly all done by hand in an arduous time-consuming task.
Shea Butter is produced in the Savannah region from West Africa to East Africa.
Shea Butter in this this blog is made in Northern Ghana. Between May and August. 2 million women starting from 12 years of age are involved in its production. By forming co-operatives, they all work long days together under large trees to stay out of the sun.
The nuts used to make Shea Butter come from fruit of the karité tree, Translated from French into the Tree of Life. Or more popularly known as the Shea Tree.
The women have to walk several miles in the rainy season in snake-infested and rough terrain just to get to them.
Each tree yields about 90 pounds of fruit roughly the size of a plum. The nuts are extracted from the fruit. They are then laid out to dry in the sun for several hours.
Stones are used for cracking the nuts. They are washed and dried before being broken into smaller pieces.
"Technology" is slowly creeping in and grinding machines are now are starting to replace the traditional hand with a mortar and pestle method.
If you have ever used Shea butter, you may recognise it's distinctive roasted smell.
This is done by roasting the nut pieces over an open fire. They then are further ground to form a thick paste.
The paste is churned for about an hour by hand gradually water is added. Butter oil rises to the surface and is carefully removed.
Placed in a basin of boiling water and under low fire, it gradually melts, removed and strained to filter out impurity.
The oil thickens after being stored in a dry cool place, to create unrefined Shea Butter.
This Shea Butter then gets transported to the west, Where some of your finest beauty products are then made.