Shea Butter is highly in demand due to its incredible properties and healing effects. This butter is made from extracts collected from the Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). The word Shea is derived from “si” a name of the tree in Bamana language of Mali, which is a landlocked country in Western Africa.
Extraction of Shea Butter
The process of making Shea butter involves two different methods and they are as follows:-
1) Traditional Method: Initially, the outer fruit pulp is removed and dried. Later, Shea nut present in it is separated from its outer shell and this process is called cracking. The gathered Shea nuts are crushed with the help of motors and pestles, which are then roasted and pulverized to obtain a smooth paste.
The paste obtained is kept to boil at a constant temperature, in order to remove excess amount of water present in it. This pure paste is uniformly shaped, packed and sold.
2) Extraction using solvents: This process involves making Shea butter with the help of chemical solvents. The popularly used solvent for in this procedure is hexane, as it is abundantly found and it is quite cost effective.
Many industries have standardized chemical extraction over traditional methods for making Shea butter. Due to its cost effectiveness and the amount of butter obtained, it is comparatively used more often by manufacturers than the others. Sometimes, procedure followed depends on the type of product manufactured because the chemical extraction is not preferable for making beauty and food products.
Uses of Shea Butter
Due to enormous health benefits of Shea butter, it is widely used in preparing various kinds of food items and it is in great demand by the consumers. For several years now, Shea butter is used for curing burns, dermatitis, stretch mark, sores, scars, psoriasis, and dandruff.
Shea butter contains cinnamic acid, which protects your skin from harmful UV rays. It diminishes wrinkles and helps in regeneration of cells to retain the elasticity of the skin, which makes it an effective moisturizer. Thus, it is mainly used in anti-aging creams and lotions.
Shea butter is also used in many hair care products due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used for all hair types. It soothes and softens your dry and brittle hair by retaining its moisture. Besides just taking care of your dry hair it also nourishes hair with normal texture. Additionally, it also conditions oily hair by locking or concealing hair excess moisture.
Apart from this, Shea butter can be used as a substitute for dairy butter, margarine, shortening and others. Its dairy free nature has enticed many people to opt for Shea butter over other products for cooking. It’s used for baking cookies, cakes, pastries and others.
Shea nuts are rich in vitamin A and E and thus, higher intake these nuts help in building immune systems and they also provide necessary nutrients to keep up many metabolic activities in our body.
Therefore, its remarkable uses and properties makes Shea butter the best ingredient for food or cosmetics. Many new methods have been introduced for making Shea butter a much better product today. So, if you haven’t tried Shea butter, then it is best suggested that you start using it now for a healthy tomorrow.
Mr. Pratap Shanbhag, Technical Director – Standards International Precision Engineers Pvt Ltd are the pioneers in the manufacture of various food processing equipment. Over the past 10 years, we have grown as the market leaders, with successful installations of more than 100 food processing plants all across the world.