African black soap is known by many names all over the world. In Ghana it is called Alata samina or anago samina, it is also referred to as ABS online mostly and Dudu osun in Nigeria. African black soap is made in West Africa, East Africa and Northern Africa. The version of it made the northern parts of Africa and the Mediterranean are called Moroccan black soap, savon beldi, savon noir or hammam. I know it may surprise many to hear this, but African black soap does not have it’s originations in Africa but rather, it was brought over to West of Africa through trade. Over time, we have perfected the recipe that is more popular now and made in Ghana.
Ghana is the highest producer of African black soap and an importer of the potash that is used to make African black soap. African black soap is now popularly associated with Ghana and sometimes Nigeria but the truth is the soap we now know as
African black soap was inspired and based on the type of soap that was made the Mediterranean. The process for making it is the same as what is referred to by some as pioneer soap. Which is soap made with wood ashes. You will find that all over the world, black soap potash are made with parts of plants such as barks, olive pits, plantain peeling sunflower seed husk etc. In Ghana, we originally used to make it with ashes from plantain peelings and cocoa pod husk.
African black soap is a very simple soap recipe made with water, potash and botanical oils. Sometime s, other herbs and botanical are infused into the potash and water used to make the soap. This is why some people with dermatitis find that the soap is helpful for their skin.
It is popular due to its creamy and bubbly nature and healing nature of the soap. It has very few ingredients compared to most soaps and it can be used for shampooing the hair, removing make up and washing the face as well as in the shower.
African black soap comes in 4 textures:
- A soft gooey gel like soap kept in a container
- Dry flaky soap that breaks apart easily, that is sometimes sold as a powder
- A liquid shower gel soap
- As a bar soap
It is traditionally made with ingredients such as palm kernel oil, coconut oil, palm oil and shea butter, although the recipe would vary slightly from each country. It is made in a similar fashion and all forms of it tends to be very effective for clearing various types of dermatitis and body odour. It has always been used on skins that suffer from eczema, acne, ringworm and other unidentifiable skin blemishes, dandruff and dry scalp conditions.
It contains no animal fat unlike most soaps so its suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Although African black soap can be made with tallow or lard and in Ethiopia it is mostly tallow used for making black soap and all other types of handmade soaps.