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Traditional Crafting      


Hand Crafted Shea Butter
Beautiful Curls products are made with only unrefined, handcrafted, certified fair trade shea butter.

Traditional Handcrafted Shea Butter

Traditionally handcrafting Shea butter is a long process involving several critical steps. Alaffia Handcrafted Shea butter is made with care by our cooperative members in Togo, West Africa. Women in our communities have been extracting Shea butter in this manner for generations.

The first step in the handcrafting process is collecting ripe Shea fruits. The fruits are sustainably harvested from wild Shea trees by women and their families. This harvest provides a welcome income for these typically disadvantaged members of society. After harvest, the fruit and shell are removed, and the remaining kernels, or "nuts" are sun dried and sorted.

When the dried nuts are received, they are washed to remove dust and debris, dried and sorted for quality. The sorted nuts are then crushed, roasted to decrease moisture content and further ground to a thick paste. This paste is mixed with clean, potable water and whipped by hand until the fats begin to separate. This separation process takes from one to three hours.

After the oils rise and are separated, they are skimmed off, melted and strained into basins. The cooling oil is stirred very carefully to initialize the crystallization process and form the oil into shea butter. The stirring process is crucial in making a creamy shea butter, as it helps the crystals align as the butter solidifies. The crystallization process can take up to 24 hours in warmer weather.

Traditional, Unrefined vs Refined Shea Butter

We take extreme care at each step in the traditional extraction process so the end result is the highest quality Shea butter possible. Since such care is taken during the extraction, we do not have to alter or process the Shea butter in any further way, and our customers receive the purest, most effective Shea butter.

Most Shea butter available to the general public outside West Africa is white and odorless since it has been "refined" to remove the natural scent and color. In the "refining" process, the majority of the effective agents are also removed. Refined Shea butter has usually been extracted with hexane or other petroleum solvents, which leave toxic residues in the butter. It is then bleached and deodorized, which involves temperatures over 400°F and treatment with harsh chemicals. Preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) may be added as well. The end result is an odorless, white butter that lacks the true moisturizing, healing, and nutritive properties of handcrafted and unrefined Shea butter.

To learn more about shea butter, please visit us on the web at www.alaffia.com.

To purchase handcrafted shea butter, please visit our Alaffia Online Store.
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