About African Black Soap
African black soap has slowly but steadily become popular in the past few years. Originally made in Africa, from where it gets its name, it is a light soft soap with a delicate texture and earthy smell. African mothers would use the soap to wash their newborns, which is a testament to how gentle it is on the skin. It is known to be able to clean the body without washing away the skin's natural oils, which is important for the body and for keeping the skin's natural ph balance. In liquid form, it can be also be used to wash hair.
Though each tribe in Africa adds their own unique twist to their black soap, they all work with the same basic ingredients. These are: plantain skins, cocoa pod ashes, palm oil, shea butter, and tree bark, usually the tree bark is dependent on the tribe.
To make the black soap, the plantain skins are dried in the sun. Next, the skins are roasted in a clay oven. Much effort is made to keep the fire even during this process so as not to burn one part of the skins more than the other sides. The longer the skins are roasted, the darker the end product will be. Once the roasting period is finished, the skins are ground and then mixed with cocoa pod ashes. The ashes are then mixed with water and then filtered into a container.
Next, palm oil and shea butter are added to the mixture, as well as the tree bark. Other tribes may add other oils, but usually palm oil is added because the palm is quite abundant in Africa. When all the ingredients are in the mixing pot or bowl, the soap is stirred by hand for some time. Often, women will take turns throughout the day. The stirring process hardens the mixture.
After stirring, the mixture is left alone for two weeks. This time period is the curing process. Once it's been cured, the soap is ready to be shaped. Because it is soft, it can be shaped with your hands. This is why traditional African black soaps come in irregular shapes. Often, African women can cut of a chunk of the soap they've made and start using it right away. The remainder of the piece is kept. The soap will never expire, so it can be kept for as long as you like, which means for as long as you have to make another batch. If you live in a moist or humid environment, it is a good idea to store the soap in an airtight container because if you don't, it can absorb the moisture from the air and this can ruin its shape and consistency.
Black soap is supposed to help people with skin problems, like rashes and acne. It has been known to soften rough skin as well as moisturize dry skin very well.