African black soap is also known as “Ose Dudu” in Nigeria and “Alata Samina” in Ghana. The name “Ose Dudu” is from the Yoruba language and literally translates to “soap that is black.”
Its main ingredients are shea butter and the potash of plantain skins. It is produced in many West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria.
What makes this soap unique is that it doesn’t contain sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) as a source of lye. Instead, natural lye, potassium hydroxide, is formed from the plantain potash.
Although African black soap is called black,” it’s actually brown in colour.
The process of creating black soap can take from 2-4 weeks.
- The leaves and skins from bananas, plantains and the shea nut tree are burnt into potash.
- Water is then added to the ash to create a dark liquid, which creates a potassium hydroxide lye.
- Finally, the resulting liquid is strained and filtered to remove impurities.
- The mixture is stirred in a large vat and Shea butter is added to the mix.
- This is the basic soap mixture. It is allowed to sit for a month for the ingredients to bind and set into soap.