About African Black Soap
African black soap has been used in Ghana for generations. Containing a natural antiseptic and gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin, black soap also utilizes local natural ingredients that may have otherwise gone to waste. Our black soap is made with cocoa pod ashes, though some crafters use banana leaf ashes and in Ghana’s Northern Region, the skins of certain nuts are used.
The ash is a key part of the soap-making process. To form, soap requires the combination of fats and either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide that react in a process called saponification. Cocoa pod ashes provide a natural, local, and income-generating source of potassium hydroxide. Our producers then use local coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and unrefined shea butter to complete the saponification process and render a delectably cleansing and moisturizing soap.
How to make Dandy Lion African Black Soap
Here is a step-by-step guide to how our producers create Dandy Lion African Black Soap:
Step 1: First, coconut oil must be extracted by grinding and boiling dried coconut kernel, called copra.
Step 2: The coconut oil is either mixed with melted shea butter or palm kernel oil. In either case, the mixture consists of two parts coconut oil to one part shea butter or palm kernel oil. The two oils are then heated together for 10-15 minutes.
Extract coconut oil
Coconut oil is mixed
Step 3: This is when cocoa pod ash makes its entrance. It must first be made into jenkese, the local name for the concentrated solution that is used for soap making. To make jenkese, the gutted cocoa pod is first dried then ground to the consistency of soot. The jenkese used in our black soap is made in the village of Suhum in Ghana’s Eastern Region.
Step 4: The jenkese is added to the mixed oils over a fire and saponification occurs, leaving a lumpy product that can then be retrieved from the barrel.
Cocoa pod ash
Jenkese is added to the mixed oils
Step 5: This lumpy soap is pounded in a mortar to produce both consistent texture and elasticity. If the batch calls for fragrance, it is added now.
Step 6: This mixture is put over fire and fluffed.
Step 7: This new “fluffed soap” is removed from the fire and spread out on rubber to cool. The cooling process is aided by occasionally stirring the soap with a stick.
Lumpy soap is pounded in a mortar
Mixture is put over fire and fluffed
Cooling process is aided by occasionally stirring
Step 8: Once cooled, the soap mixture is ready for molding. It is first mixed with a small amount of water, then placed in a machine designed to compress and mold one single, giant bar of soap.
Step 9: To divide it into individual soaps, a slicing mold is pressed into the giant bar and each new bar is carefully pushed out with a stick carved specifically for that purpose.
Step 10: The individual bars are sealed in 100% recycled plastic made from used water sachets.
Soap mixture is then ready for molding
Each new bar is carefully pushed out
Individual bars are then sealed
Step 11: The sealed soaps are ready to receive the Dandy Lion Black Soap label.