What is Shea Butter?
Shea Butter is a natural fat extracted from the kernels or nuts, found in the fruit of the Shea tree. The Shea tree (Butyrospermum parkii or Vitellaria paradoxa) grows in 19 countries across East and West tropical Africa. With such a wide habitat, it is perhaps not surprising that it has many names. However, outside of Africa, it is mainly known as the Shea (can be pronounced as either Shee or Shay) tree. The word Shea comes from a Malian name for the tree - shiyiri.
Whilst we mainly think of Shea Butter for topical applications, the Shea tree is actually an important traditional food plant for many cultures. The fat is used as a cooking oil and the Shea Caterpillars/Chitoumou, which only feed on the tree’s leaves, are a popular, protein-rich snack!
How is Shea Butter made?
Shea butter has been prepared for centuries using roughly the same process:
- Ripe fruit is harvested and the kernels (nuts) are removed
- The nuts are washed, dried and then crushed
- The nuts are then roasted - this is why unrefined Shea butter has natural smoky aroma
- The nuts are ground into a paste, mixed with water and then kneaded
- The mixture is boiled to remove the water and then strained and cooled
This process can be done completely by hand or alternatively, machinery may be employed to speed up the process. However, it is still largely done by hand and typically it is women who do all the work – as with most things in life!
What is Shea butter for?
Shea butter is mainly used topically for skin and hair. It can be used in moisturisers, balms, body butters, soap, lip balms etc, it can also be used by itself.
Shea Butter available from PureNature:
Shea Butter, Refined – Fair Trade: Certified Fair-Trade Shea Butter from Burkina Faso. Sustainably refined in France.
Shea Butter Refined, Organic – Fair Trade: Certified Organic Certified Fair-Trade Shea Butter from Burkina Faso. Sustainably refined in France.
Shea Butter, Ghanaian – Unrefined: Handmade with very little processing. Sourced from a collective in Ghana which supports Women in rural communities.
Shea Butter, Yellow – Unrefined: Handmade with very little processing. Sourced from a collective in Ghana which supports Women in rural communities. Naturally dyed using traditional botanicals.
Shea Butter Unrefined – Organic: Certified Organic, sourced from Ghana.