All things Shea Butter
What is Shea Butter?
Shea (Pronounced “Shee”) butter comes from the kernel of the shea tree fruit which grows wild in equatorial regions of central Africa. Due to the widespread growth of the tree covering many areas of East and West Africa, the tree is also known as Karité, Nku and the Bambuk Butter tree. The trees from West Africa are formally classified as Vitellaria paradoxa, Butyrospermum parkii and Butyrospermum paradoxa. The East African varieties are classified Vitellaria nilotica. Though similar in therapeutic properties, there are considerable differences between V. paradoxa and V. nilotica.
The shea tree begins bearing fruit after 10 – 15 years and is maturity at around 20 years when it is in full fruit production. Shea trees are deciduous and live up to 200 years and grow 15 meters or 49.2 feet tall. The fruit resembles a plum and is nutritious. Inside the fruit is the kernel which is similar in size to a pecan. The nut is extracted from the kernel to produce shea butter.
Always do a spot test on skin if you have a nut allergy to ensure no allergic reaction since this is a tree nut.
Most shea butters range in color from cream to medium yellow. They usually have a smokey nutty aroma. It should not present an odor that makes you feel it has expired.
If the shea nuts have been allowed to ferment prior to processing, the odor may be quite pungent. The shelf life of shea butter is from 12 to 18 months. Be sure and check the expiration date, if it exists on any shea butter you buy. If there isn’t an expiration date, take a whiff. If it smells off, don’t buy it. You can extend the shelf life by refrigerating.
Going on a natural journey with products that are fresh is a learning experience. You can benefit from understanding more about each ingredient and how to store them for maximum shelf life.
Shea bring money and life into many African communities and is formulated by women. It is a fantastic way to help support families a world away and it keeps us all thriving. These trees and traditions are preserved with every purchase.