Balanites oil is used as a soap base, reacting with sodium hydroxide and water in a process known as saponification.
This is wild!!
Lush purchases balanites oil from a supplier called ReWild Earth. As their name suggests, the company aims to support landscapes' regeneration through the use of wild perennials. They are training local people in several African countries to grow these robust plants, focusing on native food species with different harvest times, allowing farmers to have food and earn an income all year round. ReWild Earth also develops technologies to extract oil from raw materials, such as balanites seeds in Niger, and creates a distribution network for these.
Crops grow without irrigation (rainfall only), without fertilisers or pesticides, and regenerate naturally. That's the beauty of perennials, compared to annuals. It does not need to be replanted, and this has many advantages:
- The soil can take a break - it doesn't need to be tilled, at least for a while!
- Untouched deep root systems prevent erosion and allow plants to find food and water in the soil.
- The plants need less (if any) fertiliser or pesticides.
- They help keep carbon in the ground rather than in the air.
What are the benefits of balanites oil?
Valued for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, the oil cleanses and soothes the skin. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids - notably linoleic and oleic acids, which act as emollients and soften the skin. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid and a key component of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). It supports the skin barrier and protects from damage and irritation.
Moreover, the oil has a creamy consistency, similar to that of sesame seed oil, and is ideal as a soap base due to its low moisture content, which helps make soaps stable.
What is balanites?
Balanites aegyptiaca, otherwise referred to as the ‘desert date’ or ‘soapberry' tree, is an evergreen tree found throughout Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Thriving even in dry, arid conditions, its fruit, bark and seeds have all been used for medicinal purposes throughout history, with seeds being found in the tombs of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt. The tree's branches can also provide shelter for endangered migratory birds, a providential stopover to rest and feed on their long journey.