SHEA BUTTER FROM GHANA
Shea butter is a well-known and an important local product in Northern Ghana and also few other African countries. Ghana and Burkina Faso are most likely the leading in Shea butter production. The shea butter comes from the nuts of the shea trees that grow in the Savannah region from West Africa to East Africa. It is fat that is extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree known as (Vitellaria paradoxa).
For centuries, shea butter has been used as a cosmetic ingredient and is also naturally known to be rich in vitamins A, E, D, F and cinnamic acid. Nearly every household in the Northern Region of Ghana is into shea butter process. This knowledge is passed down through generations.
Process of making Shea Butter
- The shea butter process begins with the collecting of the shea nuts which fall to the ground by the women in the community.
- The shells of the dried shea nuts have to be removed and this is done by cracking the shells with stones or any other hand materials that can help.
- The next step is to wash the nuts and leave them to dry under the sun.
- The dried nuts are then crashed into small pieces by taking them to the grinding machine. This was formally done by using a mortar and pestle.
- The process goes on by roasting the crushed pieces on fire and then taking them to the grinding machine again where they are transformed into paste which becomes a dark chocolate colour.
- The women then put the paste in big basins, adding water gradually and then whip it until it will mix very well. This step mostly has the children helping their mothers. The paste is whipped for at least an hour until butter oil separates from the water.
- Afterwards, butter oil is carefully removed and put into a bowl of boiling water under fire. When butter oil melts, the women scoop off the fats that rise to the top of the bowl.
- In the final step, liquid is then strained in order to remove the unwanted impurities then cooled in a cool place so the oil becomes hard and then becomes Shea butter.
- The shea butter is then ready to be sold to customers both in Ghana and overseas.
Yellow and ivory coloured shea butter is what is made by the women of the North. The only difference between these two is the colour. The women add roots of the African borotutu tree or palm oil that adds colour to the butter making it deep yellow.
Uses of Shea Butter
In ancient practice, manufacturing of shea butter was mostly used as cooking oil and for skin care but in present times the use of shea butter has become vast and not only used in Africa but also in the Western world. Below are some other uses of shea butter:
- Organic ingredient for cosmetics.
- Lotion or moisturizer.
- Hair cream in its raw state.
- Healing product for wounds and burns.
- Natural baby – care product or ingredient in baby care products (raw shea butter is used on the umbilical cord of a new born baby).
- Effective product to apply on scars and rashes, wrinkled skin and to get rid of stretch marks.
- Treatment against acne and blemishes.
- Lip balm for dried lips.
Benefits of Shea Butter
Just as we have looked at some uses of shea butter let us also have a look at some of its stated benefits below:
- It helps promote cell regeneration (help your skin generate healthy new cells)
- It helps treat or reduce the appearance of scarring and stretch marks. It is believed shea butter stops keloid fibroblasts and scar tissue from reproducing while encouraging healthy growing of cell.
- It is a good moisturizer: the concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids in shea makes it very nourishing and moisturizing for the skin. It is used as remedy for those with dry skin. Shea butter also comes in very handy during the harmattan season in Ghana.
- It is a very good product when it comes to the hair by preventing of hair loss, repairing damaged hair and soothing dry and itchy scalp.
- It reduces wrinkles and also prevents premature wrinkles and facial lines. Its anti-aging properties can also be attributed to its ability to increase circulation to the skin and promote cell renewal.
- It provides extra moisture and nutrients that the lips need during the cold season and dry weather conditions therefore shea butter acts as a perfect lip balm and is also effective for treating dry and chapped lips.
- It relieves the swelling and pain on the parts of the body affected by rheumatism.
Shea butter or related products with shea butter component in recent times can be found in almost every household in Ghana due to its uses and benefits. So, having shea butter in your house will always come in handy.