Shea Butter in the Making


The Tiehisuma Shea Butter Processing Centre employs over 100 women who pick, produce and market Shea nuts, turning the fruit into Shea butter that is used in cosmetic and food industries. The company sells and produces between six to eight tons of Shea butter a month.


Before the Shea nut is processed, the nut enters the production center in its original form, straight from the tree. The nut is then taken to a mill and crushed into small particles.


After the Shea nuts are crushed, they are roasted anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the moisture content within the nut. Workers must continuously turn the container to ensure the nuts do not burn.

When the roast is finished, the nuts are subsequently taken to a second mill, where the particles are mashed once more.


Water is added to the crushed nut particles, as women stir the nut and water mixture for an hour or more. Gradually the chocolate colored mixture will turn into a pasty white substance, where the Shea butter production process continues.

The Shea nut industry is predominated by women, who are involved in almost every aspect of Shea butter production.


When the ground Shea nut becomes an off white color, more water is added to the mixture to separate the Shea fat particles from the water. The solid fats are collected and separated from the water and taken to the final step of production.


The boiling oil is put into smaller containers to cool and ensure that no solid nut particles enter the finished product.


The oil continues to cool until it turns into a frequency consistent of firm butter. It is then scooped, packaged and sold to buyers and investors.