About the Power of Shea Butter

The Power of Shea

The Shea Butter Story

The Shea Karite TreeShea Butter is still collected, processed and used in much the same way that it was 2,000 years ago. The difference is that now the benefits of Shea Butter are available to North America, Asia and Europe. The other difference, which is huge, is that Shea Butter is allowing many women to take more control of their economic destiny and is providing the resources to allow children to go to school and families to thrive.

The Shea (Karite) Tree is native to tropical Africa. 12 to 20 meters high, its branches are short and thick with a grayish bark. It grows spontaneously throughout drier areas in much of the Sub-Saharan region. It takes about 15 years to produce its first fruit and the Shea Tree only reaches full maturity after 25-50 years. It produces fruit once each year and is very resistant to bush fires. So far, the Shea Tree has not been successfully domesticated, largely due to the long time it takes to produce the first fruit.

Shea Fruit is delicious and enjoyed by everyone when it matures from June to August, the middle of the rainy season. People say the round greenish-yellow fruit is like a taste of heaven. When the heavy rains push the ripe fruits onto the ground people pick them up and eat them. Children, Elders, everyone enjoys this gift from nature. The fruit is so abundant that there is plenty for everyone, and for the animals and birds. Traditionally the fruits are eaten fresh and not preserved.

Gathering the Shea Nuts or Pits is often just a part of eating the fruit. Children are taught from the earliest age that the gift of the Shea Tree is to be treasured. During Shea Fruit season every house has a basket where the Shea Pits (which are at the centre of the fruit like a peach stone) are deposited after the fruit is eaten. Women will scour the savannah and bush, gathering basketfuls of Shea Pits and then walking miles back to their villages, carrying them in baskets on their heads. Gathering the Shea Pits, along with all the other steps of the process, is a social activity.

Drying the Shea Pits — After the Shea Pits are gathered they must be dried to prevent spoilage when the Pits are stored. They are spread on the ground in the hot African sun and left to dry.

Separating/Cracking — When dry, the nut which is the source of Shea Butter, must be separated from the outer shell. This is a social activity, traditionally done by Women Elders and young girls who sit on the ground and break the shells with a small rock.

Crushing — To make the Shea Pits into butter they must be crushed. Traditionally this is done with a mortar and pestle. It is hard grueling work with the women spending hours lifting the heavy pestles and slamming them down into the mortar to crush the Pits so they can be roasted.

Roasting — The crushed Pits are then roasted in huge pots over an open wood fire. The pots must be stirred constantly with a wooden paddle so they don't burn. The butter is heavy and stirring it is hot, smoky work, done under a searing African sun. This is where the slight smoky smell of traditional Shea Butter originates. The smell tells you that the butter has been produced using the same traditions and tools that have been used for hundreds of years.

Grinding — The roasted Shea Pits are ground into a smoother paste, water is gradually added and the paste is mixed well by hand.

Separating and Curing the Butter Oils — The paste is kneaded by hand in large basins and water is gradually added to help separate out the butter oils. As they float to the top the butter oils, which are in a curd state, are taken out and excess water squeezed out. The butter oil curds are then melted in large open pots over a slow fire. A period of slow boiling will remove any remaining water, which boils off as steam.

Now It’s Shea Butter — The pure Shea Butter is ladled off the top of the pot and put in a cool place to harden. Shea Butter, which is creamy or golden yellow in its natural state, is traditionally formed into balls by the women.

The Difference Between Unrefined And Refined Shea Butter

Only pure, unrefined shea butter has the true healing and moisturizing properties of shea butter. Most shea butter available to the general public outside West Africa is white and odorless. In other words, it has been "refined" to remove the natural scent and color of natural shea butter. In the process, the majority of the effective agents are also removed. In addition, refined shea butter has usually been extracted from the shea pits with hexane or other petroleum solvents. The extracted oil is boiled to drive off the toxic solvents, then refined, bleached and deodorized, which involves heating it to over 400 degrees F, and the use of harsh chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide. Shea butter extracted in this manner still contains some undesirable solvent residues, and its healing values are significantly reduced.

Unrefined Shea butter is useful for many applications. Here are a few of them:

  • Burns: Radiation and Sunburns
  • Dry skin: In case of dry, very dry, tired or sensitive complexions, Shea butter is the perfect natural solution.
  • Skin cracks
  • Chapped Lips
  • Wrinkles: Shea butter contains phytosterols, fatty acids and vitamins that stimulate the natural cellular regeneration process and the suppleness of the dermis. It constitutes one of the best ways to heal and nourish dry or dull skin and to prevent the ravages of aging.
  • Skin rashes/Dermatitis
  • Tough skin (feet and/or hands)
  • Eczema / Psoriasis
  • Itching and Insect bites: Relief is immediate. Re-apply as needed.
  • Preventing stretch marks
  • Hair conditioning: Shea butter is the perfect solution for dull, devitalized, dry and damaged hair. It provides a rich protecting conditioner to apply after shampoo or before swimming.
  • Frostbite
  • Shaving cream: It will take care of men's skin for hydration, anti-aging action and will even heal the razor cuts or just the burn of everyday shaving.
  • Muscle fatigue: Massage into muscles before your warm up prior to vigorous exercise. Recovery will be faster and the drainage and elimination of toxins from the muscles will be done more readily and thoroughly.
  • Tattoo Healing: Shea butter will speed healing while reducing or eliminating pain and itch associated with the healing process after receiving a tattoo. Using Shea butter will also help reduce scaring.
  • Blisters: Apply Shea butter to blistered area at least 2 to 3 times a day when blistering is first noticed.

 

  • We use traditional Shea Butter from Ghana, West Africa.  It is filtered, unrefined and hand crushed.
  • It is expressed by hand using a water extraction method by a Women's Shea Butter Cooperative to help provide support and income for their villages.
  • Hexane is NOT used in the extraction process of our Shea butter.  It is used by many companies because it produces a larger amount of butter at a cheaper rate.
  • Most of the healing benefits are lost in the Hexane extraction process.  Exposure to Hexanes poses serious health risks.
  • Unrefined Shea Butter is ideal for treating dry, damaged or aging skin.  It has been used African healers for thousands of years.
  • Has natural anti-oxidant properties due to the natural content of Tocopherol.
  • Contains high content of unsaponifiable fats which help keep the skin young by stimulating the tissue and helping the skin make its own collagen.

Natural unrefined Shea Butter is incorporated into many of our products such as Body Scrubs, Beauty Bars, Hand & Body lotion, Body Butters, Souffles, Lip Balms, etc...

The Shea Three or Karite Tree (Butyrospermum parkii) is also sometimes referred to as The Tree of Life.

* PRECAUTION: Butyrospermum parkii or Shea butter contains natural latex and anyone with a Latex allergy or sensitiviy will possibly not be able to use shea butter products.  Please check ingredients before using. Products that contain shea butter are: lip balms, Hand & Body Lotion, Nourishing Cream, Body Scrubs (Sugar Buff and Sugar Glow), Hydrating Souffle, Whipped Shea Body butter, Shea Butter Curticle & Heel Balm.

We do have alternative products that DO NOT have any  Shea Butter in them.

Read and learn

Posted : 07/13/2010

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