Natural shea butter produced by african women
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Natural shea butter produced by african women
Natural Shea Butter Produced by African Women
African shea butter, also known as karit, is widely used in cosmetic industry, in many
brands, as a precious ingredient for skin moisturizing creams, eyes creams, lips balsams,
shampoos, soaps, sunscreens, anti aging creams, creams for stretching marks after
pregnancy. In medicine shea butter is used to heal burns and diminish muscles pain.
Besides its action over the skin, karit is used for cooking, for example, in the chocolate
industry where it is used as a substitute for cocoa.
Why is shea butter manufactured by African women so valuable? First, because the
small area on the planet where the shea nut tree grows, and secondly, because the
manually production of shea butter implies many procedures and an intense physical
The shea nut tree, also named Butyrospermum parkii, grows in Western African
savannah. It can only grow in those the semi arid zones of south Saharian Desert climate
because it necessitate a long dry period to produce its shea nuts and only around 1000
mm water per year. African shea butter is made from the nuts of this wonderful tree.
The procedure of transforming shea nuts into butter is known by centuries by the
African women; the most ancient proofs attesting the production of shea butter comes
from the fourteenth century. African women first produced shea butter for eating and to
protect their skin in the harsh climate of their region and also as lamp oil. Shea nuts
have a great percent of fat, 50% and this makes them so valuable for locals.
Producing shea butter is awarded exclusively to women because here, in African culture,
women take care of everything regarding food and house care. The process of
transforming nuts into butter is a hard physical job, needing a lot of energy. The
procedure starts only when the rainy season comes because it necessitates big amounts
of water. The whole process of obtaining shea butter is manually done by African women
and lasts several days, implying many stages:
First, shea nuts are collected by women.
After the collection process, nuts are boiled and then are left in the sun to dry.
Dried nuts will be shelled, each by each, manually.
After that, shea nuts come to a crushing process, followed by a roasted process.
The small chopped nuts are than casted in big mortars and mixed with big pestles
while adding water.
After been knead, shea nuts become a caramel-colored paste.
While women float the paste, foam will appear at its surface.
This foam is collected and placed into another recipient containing water to
eliminate eventual residues.
The cleaning process, using water only, is repeated, four times usually, while the
foam becomes white.
The obtained white foam is again boiled for several hours.
Until cooling, the ingredient is skimmed and so the process of producing shea butter
There are many places in Western Africa where the only chance to win international
currency, such as dollars, is to fabricate shea butter. Since producing karit has become
an industry, African women have created cooperatives that allow them to work together
and earn a better existence. Some West African countries, conscious by the increased
need of shea butter, have augmented their production for exportation.