SAL Enterprise - Shea Butter

By: Shea Butter  09-12-2011
Keywords: Shea Butter


Shea butter is a natural herbal extract. It is known for its effective skin care and its rich content of stearic, oleic acids and natural vitamin E. Shea butter is reputable for its:

  • High moisturizing properties which protect the skin from dryness and sunburn;
  • Versatility in home use in food and direct skin application;
  • use in the cosmetic industry to make premium creams, lotions, bath soaps and skin care products;
  • Use in the manufacture of margarine and especially in the manufacture of chocolates and confectionery as it is an excellent substitue for Cocoa butter.

Shea butter is vastly used by:

  • Premium Cosmetic manufactures in making bath soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, bath oils, massage products, body creams and lotions, lip balm and skin products;
  • Cosmetic and food ingredient distributors;
  • Pharmaceutical laboratories in making pharmaceutical products;

Making Shea butter

Shea nut is a trading commodity and typically, women dominate the trade. Making traditional shea butter is labour intensive. Women toil for long hours in the wild in harsh weather, braving rainstorms and temperatures as high as 45 degrees F to pick Shea nuts. The nuts are shelled, dried, stored over several months. Traditional Shea butter is extracted from Shea nuts and typically involves the following stages:

  • Shea nuts are contained in pods or shells;
  • Shells or pods cracked open by hand thus releasing nuts or kernels;
  • Nuts are dried to remove moisture;
  • Dried nuts are crushed and roasted;
  • Roasted nuts are ground to paste to facilitate oil extraction;
  • Nut paste with gradual adding of warm water is kneaded vigorously by hand until oil in coagulated form separate from the water;
  • Released oil in coagulated form is whisked out. Water containing nut sediments is discarded;
  • Coagulated Shea butter containing traces of nut paste is placed to steam kettles or boiling pots;
  • Shea oil is skimmed and stored to solidify into Shea butter.

Natural unrefined wholesome sheabutter

Shea Butter is produced from shea nuts obtained from the Shea nut tree. These trees grow in the nature/wild and are not cultivated. In fact most of the terrain on which shea trees grow has never been developed. As a result, no applied chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, toxic or harzardous substances come in contact with thes trees. And therefore not part of the production of the production function.

Supporting the use of non-forest products, that is, Shea butter, contributes in the conservation of africa's wooded area, wild life, ecosystem and overall environment protection. Our locally made Shea butter is truly natural, wholesome and free of man made applied chemicals.

By tradition, no individual can own a Shea nut tree even if the tree is on the individual's property. It is a taboo. It is forbidden to cut or cause damage to a sheanut tree. The tree belongs to all. The Shea tree is perceived to be the lifeline of the people. Shea butter, milled from the Shea nut, is used for cooking, for cosmetic purposes - body lotions, soapmaking, hair products; for medicinal use to address skin conditions, etc.

The people of Northern Ghana live in symbiotic relationship or in harmony with the Shea tree in nature. There is very little room for environmental abuse. The Shea tree and Shea butter is viewed by the natives to be their lifeline.

Making it count - New opportunities for Ghana's traditional Shea Butter Producers

In the towns and villages around Tamale in northern Ghana, the way of life is subsistence farming. To boost their meagre incomes, women traditionally engage in a number of activities including making and selling Shea butter. Like cash crop farming, income from the Shea butter business is hardly enough to keep the women who are involved in it above subsistence lines. But in this semi-arid part of northern Ghana, Shea butter production occurs year round and as such provides significant support for the community. Without the income, meager as it is, life would be much worse.

Shea butter is edible organic oil extracted from Shea nuts of the Shea nut tree which grows in the natural habitat and is uncultivated. Shea butter is used in pharmaceuticals and mainly in food preparations, margarine, chocolate and often, in making premium beauty products. The long held secret of what makes women look eternally young points to none other than the mystical «Shea butter».

The Shea nut tree is an integral part of the lives of the people who live in the sub-Sahara region of West Africa. Traditionally, the Sheanut tree belongs to the entire community and cannot be owned by individuals even when found on private property. For centuries, the Shea nut tree has helped conserve the ecosystems in Africa's semi-arid regions. And over time, the sheanut trade has been critical in generating and fostering economic growth in some of the poorest regions of sub-Saharan West Africa. Often when everything else fails, the Shea nut tree is there to provide succour and relief.

Local production of Shea butter provides families more income earning opportunities to improve their communities.

Fair Trade

Typical of most primary products originating from Africa, Shea nuts and Shea butter are failing to deliver meaningful local employment and decent income for the communities that produce them. Once thought to be a possible engine of economic growth, local handmade Shea butter barely provides subsistence income to these communities.

It is estimated that over 95 percent of picked Shea nuts in Africa is exported to oils mills in industrialized countries of the West to make shea butter for the manufacture of countless beauty products that make profits for the companies. But the women whose hardwork produce the nuts often have little to show for it.

As a local producer/supplier, we at SAL utilize shea nuts to make Shea butter in the areas or communities in which the nuts are picked. Our supplies include production from members of internationally renowned NGO's at Fair Trade prices. We share the view that Shea butter producers/suppliers should commit investment capital in Shea nut producing communities to attain and maintain local production of high quality Shea butter for international businesses. Furthermore, SAL also believes that serious effort should be made to ensure that some of investment is made locally to provide better jobs and income - as we do in Tamale, Ghana. This kind of investment distinguishes development oriented manufacturers interested in «Enhanced Fair Trade» from those interested in only increasing their profits.

Keywords: Shea Butter

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