Occurrence and production of unrefined shea butter

The shea tree grows wild and has a height of 6 to 12 meters and is most similar in species to the European oak. The large leaves are in clusters at the end of the branches and are elongated and rounded at the front with a wavy edge. The flowers grow in dense clusters of 50 up to 100 flowers. The flowers are beige-white and have a scent similar to honey. The fruits have a size of about 5 x 3 cm and the nut they contain has a thick shell. The ripe pulp is edible.

The nuts have a similar shape to the fruit and are chestnut-like with a shiny brownish color. When the shell of the nut is cracked open, the shea nut kernel is obtained. Collection time is in May, June and July during the shea season, as this is when the fruit falls to the ground.

Stem plant: Vitellaria paradoxa

Synonym: Butyrospermum paradoxum, shea tree or also called shea tree

Shea tree in Ghana (left picture) and shea fruit (right picture)


The fruits of the shea tree are collected for extraction. This is followed by the removal of the pulp, which can be eaten. Subsequently, the obtained nuts are dried in the sun. Another option is to cook the nuts first and then dry them in the sun.

To remove the shell, the nuts are gently handled with wooden gags and sieved through coarse-meshed baskets to separate the shells from the kernels. The small parts of the shells fall to the ground or are blown away by the wind and the kernels remain in the basket. The kernels are then passed through a press mill and then roasted in an oven. This is the only way to extract the oil from the nut afterwards. Once the crushed, roasted nuts have cooled down again, they are ground in a grinder or grating bowl. This mass is stirred by hand until the oil separates from the water. It is then heated, filtered, cold-stirred and finally packaged.

Shea nuts ready for production

Shea nuts are crushed

Crushed shea nuts are roasted

Then the nuts are ground

Mass is stirred by hand until water and fat separate

Individual production steps

  • Collecting fruits
  • Peel fruits
  • Wash & sun-dry nuts
  • Beat kernels from nuts
  • Crush kernels
  • Roast & cool kernels
  • Grind kernels
  • Stir by hand until oil separates from water
  • Gently boil the mixture so that the remaining water dissolves
  • Remove from heat & cool
  • Allow oil to settle & strain
  • Stir oil until it becomes butter

Get the pots ready to boil the mixture

Stir cold before bottling the shea butter

There can be very large differences in the quality of shea butter depending on the manufacturer. This is like the production of wine. Not all wine is the same. The extraction of the fruit, the production and storage play a central role. The shea butter from SHEA YEAH is always unrefined and certified organic.


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