Saponified black soap is traditionally made in Ghana, Africa from ash made from plants and bark and saponified palm, palm kernel or coconut oil. Black soap is excellent for treating a variety of skin problems and also can be used on the hair.
Sapo is the Latin word for soap, and to saponify means to make soap. Saponification is the result of the chemical reaction between a vegetable oil or animal fat and an alkalizing agent such as potassium hydroxide (to make a liquid soap) or sodium hydroxide (to make a bar soap).
The ash that is used to make black soap comes from plants and plantain skins, leaves from a banana or palm tree, shea tree bark and cocoa pods. Traditionally, the plant materials are dried in the sun then roasted in a clay oven. The ash is filtered through water before used in soap making.
Coconut oil and shea butter are the traditional fats that are saponified for use in black soap.
Plantain leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin E and iron to nourish the skin. Shea butter acts as a natural UV protector. It also exfoliates and smoothes the skin, lightens dark spots, prevents acne and gently removes makeup.
Black soap can be used on sensitive, normal, dry or oily skin. It can help with dandruff when used as a shampoo and has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties while moisturizing and protecting the skin.