Balanites oil is used as a soap base, reacting with sodium hydroxide and water in a process known as saponification. Valued for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, the oil cleanses and soothes the skin.
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. Birds may also take shelter in its branches - Balanites aegyptiaca provides endangered, migratory birds a place to rest and feed over their journey.
The seed, from which balanites oil is derived, is rich in unsaturated fatty acids - notably linoleic and oleic acid, 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.
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 to make the soap stable.
This oil is made from ‘desert dates’ grown in Burkina Faso, where they are hand-harvested and sun-dried before being cold-pressed to preserve the goodness within. Any byproducts are recovered and used to feed the local fauna, ensuring that nothing goes to waste and that the production remains sustainable. Once extracted from the seeds, the oil is sent off to France for a final mechanical filtration.