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close this bookHow to Make? An Improved Soap .. Not just for more Foam (GTZ, 1993, 71 p.)
close this folderC. Saponification of simple fats
View the documentC.I. Peanut oil
View the documentC.II. Copra oil
View the documentC.III. Cotton oil
View the documentC.IV. Shea butter
View the documentC.V. Palm oil
View the documentC.VI. Palmkernel oil
View the documentC.VII. Tallows (cow and mutton)
View the documentC.VIII. Fat (pork)
View the documentC.IX. Neem oil
View the documentC.X. Pourghere oil
View the documentC.XI. Castor oil
View the documentC.XII. Sesame oil

C.IV. Shea butter

It is extracted from the karitea nuts (Butyrospermum parkii). It is a picking product from the african savannas.

Physical and chemical characteristics:

Density at 15 °C :

0,917 - 0,918

Solidification point:

17 to 27 °C


55 - 67

Saponification index:

178 - 196


111 - 141

Intake in insaponifiable:

2 - 11%

Intake of alkaline solution indicated for saponification (refined oil):

10 to 24 °Be

Caustic soda soap is hard and of white color. Less soluble in water, it foams little and slowly, develops a very smooth effect on the skin and has a good washing power. Unfortunately it is less stable at storage (change of color and becomes rancid).

Preparation of soap

The shea butter has a tan color and a specific scent. It contains proportion of insaponifiable mainly composed of karitene.

As pretreatment before saponification, the washing with salted boiling water is indicated (see description of the process in Chapter C.I: peanut-oil)


The semi-hot process is well indicated for the karitea butter


100 Kg of purified shea butter;
67,75 Kg of caustic potassium solution at 10 °Be;
50 Kg of caustic soda solution at 24 °Be;


How to carry out the operation

- Weigh the quantity of butter;
- Heat the weighed butter in the boiler at a temperature of 55 - 60°C
- Stop the heating;
- Add slowly and in small proportions the 10 °Be caustic potassium by stirring well/formation of an emulsion);
- Add in portions the 24 °Be caustic soda solution by stirring (the temperature increases)
- Stir from time to time;
- Let the temperature decrease to about 50 - 60 °C;
- Then add and incorporate the additives;
- Pour the soap into moulds;
- Leave it get cold and hard;
- Take out the moulds and cut into bars (and eventually into pieces).