Shea butter production has had a dramatic effect on the quality of life in Ghana. Women dominate the shea butter trade and, thanks to fair trade, no longer have to resort to backbreaking labor to feed and support their families. While fair trade plays a vital role in shea butter production, this wouldn't be possible without harvesting from the shea nut tree.
At 24K Shea, we are proud to have partnered with a women's cooperative in Ghana. These empowered women harvest the nuts and process them to produce some of the highest quality shea butter in the world. Before you visit our online store, let us fill you in on how they harvest from the shea nut tree and the shea butter production process.
Harvesting from the Shea Nut Tree in Ghana
Producing shea butter is no easy process. Shea nut trees, also known as the vitellaria, doesn't immediately produce nuts. It can take between 10 to 15 years before it starts bearing fruit and it could be as long as 30 years before full production is attained. Shea nut trees can continue to produce fruit for up to 200 years, making them a long lasting means of production.
The shea fruit look a lot like large plums and the shea nut resides beneath the fruit's flesh. Each tree can produce as much as 45 kilograms of fruit every year, and each piece of fruit can contain as much as 400 grams of dry shea nut seeds that are used to produce shea butter.
Shea butter production has been immensely important for the people of Ghana for centuries. Shea butter is most often used in skincare in America, but in Ghana it has a rich history as a food resource. Shea butter has been used to cook food in Ghana throughout history and is still today!
The Shea Butter Production Process
Once the shea nuts have been harvested from the shea nut tree, it's time to prepare them for processing. The fruit has to be removed in order to gain access to the shea nut. Once washed, these nuts are sorted by quality and dried out in the hot Ghanaian sun.
The nuts are then crushed and then roasted. The crushed and roasted nuts are then milled into a paste-like consistency and mixed by hand with water to form shea oil. This raw oil has to be boiled down to remove any impurities, remove water, and sanitize the oil. Once the oil cools, it hardens into shea butter and is ready to be packaged and shipped to us.
Visit Our Online Store Today!
If you are interested in helping contribute to our fair trade agreement with the women's cooperative in Ghana, you can check out our line of shea butter products in our online store. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact us here.