CLASSIFICATION AND USES OF SHEA BUTTER
The United states Agency for International Development (USAID) and other end users have suggested a classification system for Shea butter separating it into five grades:
- A (raw or unrefined, extracted using water)
- B (refined)
- C (highly refined and extracted with solvents such as hexane)
- D (lowest uncontaminated grade)
- E (with contaminants).
Commercial grades are A, B, C. The colour of raw (grade A) butter ranges from cream (like whipped butter) to greyish yellow. It has a nutty aroma which is removed in the other grades. Grade C is pure white] While the level of vitamin content can be affected by refining, up to 95% of vitamin content can be removed from refined grades (i.e., grade C) of shea butter while reducing contamination levels to non-detectable levels
Shea butter extract is a complex fat that has many uses. The butter melts at body temperature
Shea butter is used in the cosmetics industry for skin- and hair-related products
- For Skin care – moisturizers, creams and emulsions. Shea butter is absorbed rapidly into the skin. It acts as a “refatting” agent and it has good water-binding properties.
- Hair conditioners to treat dry and brittle hair.
- COOKING OIL – it is used as cooking oil in Benin republic and organic broths.
- Waterproofing wax
- It is one of the ingredients for hairdressing conditioners
- It is used for candle making
- As a component of medicinal ointments.
- Used to increase the durability of Wood in traditional African percussion instruments such as Calabash gourds and leather tuning straps.
- In some European countries, it is used as a component of tissue products.
- Shea butter is sometimes used as a base for medicinal ointments. Some of the isolated chemical constituents are reported to have anti –inflammatory, emollient and humectant properties.
- Shea butter has been used as a sun blocking lotion
- In many African countries, Shea butter is applied as lotion to protect the skin during the dry Harmattan season while many Africans in Europe apply Shea butter to their skin during the cold winter months. In Nigeria, it is used for the management of Sinusitis and Nasal congestion.