Make Your Own Shea Butter Soap
The Shea (Mangifolia) tree is a wild tree found in Western Africa
that produces a tasty fruit. The fruit contains large seeds with oils
that can be extracted to produce shea butter, a white to light
yellowish color cream with a similar texture and consistency as butter.
Shea butter has been utilized by native Africans for more than a
millennia. Shea butter contains unsaponifiable fats, which do not turn
to soap and retain their moisturizing properties. It is completely
non-toxic (in fact, unprocessed, it can be used in cooking) and gentle
enough for use on the face, for babies or people with skin conditions.
Shea butter is a natural moisturize, offers UV protection, and is even
thought to help the skin make its own collagen by stimulating the
tissue. It has been long used by healers for things like skin cracks
and ulcers, small wounds, dry skin, eczema, dermatitis, and to sooth
aching muscles. Because of the way shea butter restructures the skin,
it has even been used to help with stretch marks, and in anti-aging
Because of the natural latex found in shea butter, people with
latex allergies should do a test patch on the skin before using any
shea butter products. Many people with latex allergies are not effected
by shea butter, but some are, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
But other than that, shea butter is a wonderful product to use on your
skin. And the best way to take advantage of all-natural shea butter is
to create your own home-made shea butter soap.
Shea butter is available in some craft stores that sell
soap-making products, as well as many by soap and cosmetic supply
companies. It is relatively inexpensive, as you can obtain an ounce for
only a few dollars, and need only a couple of tablespoons in order to
create two to four bars of soap. It also keeps well; refrigerated, it
can last more than two years. But not all products are created equal.
Many companies refine shea butter, or extract it chemically, which
essentially takes out many of it's beneficial properties. Other
companies bleach it, or add coloring and fragrances. For the best
product, try to obtain shea butter that is all-natural and without
additives. The more pure the product that you work with is, the better
your results will be.
In order to make your own shea butter soap, you will need:
* All-natural Castile (olive oil based) soap
* distilled water
* 2 tbsp all-natural, unprocessed shea butter
* 1 tbsp finely ground almonds (optional, but a nice addition for a
gentle exfoliating soap with a nice scent)
* A grater
* A double boiler, or a small pot that can be placed inside of a bigger pot
* Small plastic food containers for molds
* A mixing spoon
* A drying rack
Begin by setting some tap water to boil in the double-broiler or
big pot. Grate your castile soap until you have two cups full. Add this
to the inner double-boiler, or the small pot, with ½ cup of distilled
water. Melt it over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the
soap is completely melted and stringy when you pull up the spoon.
Remove it from the heat. Add the shea butter and almonds,
stirring gently until the mixture is well blended. Pour into small
plastic food containers and let dry and harden for several hours. They
should pop out when completely hard.
Place on the drying rack and allow soap to set for 3 weeks,
turning regularly throughout the day to prevent the bars from warping.
Then, simply wrap them in plastic wrap to preserve them, or use them in
your next bath.