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Shea butter

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– Common name is shísu in the Bambara language of Mali
– Shea tree also known as ghariti in the Wolof language of Senegal
– Shea tree grows naturally in the wild across 21 African countries
Shea butter production evidence dates back to the 14th century
Shea butter was imported into Britain by 1846

Composition and properties:
Shea butter composed of palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and arachidic fatty acids
– Stearic and oleic acids make up 85-90% of fatty acid composition
Shea butter consistency influenced by stearic and oleic acid proportions
– Ugandan shea butter has high oleic acid content
Shea butter from different regions varies in fatty acid profiles

– Mainly used in cosmetics for skin and hair products
– Used by soap makers and massage oil manufacturers
– Also used in cooking oil, waterproofing wax, and candle-making
Shea butter used in traditional African percussion instruments
– European Union regulates maximum shea butter use in soap

– Classified into grades A, B, C, D, and E
– Commercially available grades are A, B, and C
– Grade A is raw or unrefined, while Grade C is highly refined
Shea butter color and aroma vary across grades
Vitamin content can be reduced in refined grades

See also:
– African black soap traditionally made with shea butter
– Shea nut and butter production in Burkina Faso
– Shea Yeleen, a social enterprise supporting women-owned shea butter cooperatives

Shea butter (Wikipedia)

Shea butter (/ʃ/ shee, /ˈʃə/ SHEE, or /ʃ/ shay; Bambara: sìtulu ߛߌ߮ߕߎߟߎ) is a fat (triglyceride; mainly oleic acid and stearic acid) extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). It is ivory in color when raw and commonly dyed yellow with borututu root or palm oil. It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. It is edible and is used in food preparation in some African countries. It is occasionally mixed with other oils as a substitute for cocoa butter, although the taste is noticeably different.

A container of shea butter as sold in Benin
Seeds of a shea tree—raw materials for oil production
The Shea Nut.
Children transporting crushed shea nuts in Jisonaayili, Ghana
Wala women selling shea butter in Ghana
Traditionally preparing shea butter
Traditional preparation of shea butter in Mali
A young woman selling shea butter in Ghana.

The English word "shea" comes from , the tree's name in Bambara. It is known by many local names, such as kpakahili in the Dagbani language, taama in the Wali language, nkuto in Twi, kaɗe or kaɗanya in Hausa, òkwùmá in the Igbo language, òrí in the Yoruba language, and karité in the Wolof language of Senegal. It is also known as Moo-yaa in the Acholi language.

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