Thursday, 20 January 2011
Shea butter is the most popular moisturizer used in cosmetics all over the world in recent times. It was being used by African men and women to enhance the beauty of their skin and hair from many decades. Now entire world has discovered the numerous benefits shea butter provides and using this awesome product in their day to day life.
Refined Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of Shea-karite tree. Shea trees are found mainly in West Arica and bears fruit after 20 years. It takes 40-45 years to get a full crop. Extraction of Refined shea butter is done in many ways. Traditionally, African women collect shea nuts and rinse them with water several times to remove any surface mold or oils emitted by oxidation. Then they are dried in hot sun to get dehydrated. Good nuts are separated from the bad nuts and broken into small pieces and roasted in a roaster for 30 minutes. The roasted material is allowed to cool down to form a thick paste. It is then churned with fingers to make it smooth and uniform. Later it is mixed with warm water and stirred till the fresh shea butter rises to the surface of the water. This is called unrefined shea butter.
Another method used today to extract shea butter is to use an expeller type of press. The nuts are crushed and squeezed resulting in unrefined shea butter. Some times chemicals like Hexane are used to extract shea butter.
After unrefined shea butter is extracted, it is refined by using the following methods:
This process involves mixing of Sodium Hydroxide to unrefined shea butter. Sodium Hydroxide removes free fatty acids and phospholipids from the butter. The quality of refined shea butter is determined by the temperature maintained. Ideally it should be around 740C.
Bleaching is done to remove few minerals by making the shea butter pass through an acide treated filter. Natural smell and other components are removed in this process making it more refined.
Steam is used to remove natural minerals and natural smell from shea butter. This is done at a temperature of 2250C – 2750C.
Degumming is a method used to remove natural gum from shea butter. Protein compounds and complex carbohydrates, Magnesium, iron and calcium are also removed by this process. Degumming is done at a temperature of 600C.
Refined shea butter has numerous benefits. The most striking feature of this awesome product is its moisturizing capability and hence used vastly in cosmetics. It has the ability to regenerate cell tissues and so used as a medicine to cure rashes, skin burns and wounds. It is also used to nourish and enhance the growth of hair.
On the whole, refined shea butter is an amazing product and thanks to Africa for giving this wonderful product to the world.