African black soap
African black soap, or black soap (also known by various local names such as sabulun salo, ose dudu and ncha nkota), is a kind of soap originating in West Africa. It is made from the ash of locally harvested African plants, which gives the soap its characteristic dark colour. Black soap has become a popular toiletry product in North America.
In West Africa, especially Ghana, black soap is often made by women and fair-traded. The women use secret family or community recipes that have been handed down for generations. First, they sun-dry the plant matter, such as plantain skins, palm tree leaves, cocoa pods and shea tree bark, and burn it to ash. Next, they add water and various oils and fats, such as coconut oil, palm oil, and shea butter, cook the mixture until it solidifies and hand-stir it for at least 24 hours. They then scoop out the soap and let it "cure".
A variety of black soap known as ose-dudu originated with the Yoruba people of Nigeria. A combination of ose-dudu with leaves of the tropical camwood tree (Pterocarpus osun) produces a popular kind of soap with exfoliating properties called dudu-osun.
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