Posted by: cgross1 | April 22, 2011

Soap, Porridge, and Hotels

Hello everyone!

Much has been afoot in country as of late – for more information, one can do a search for Burkina Faso news. But rest assured, all here is calm and everyone is well.

I have been decently busy as of late with my association. Every day except for Sunday, the women in my association have four hours of lessons to learn to read and write in their local language. They have lessons in health and safety as well, and so I decided to piggy-back on their lesson on health and teach them to make something called bouille, which is porridge. There are many kinds of bouille one can make using local ingredients, and it is a major combatant against malnutrition for children, and for adults also. The women really liked the bouille, and I was sooo happy when several of the women came to me about a week later, told me they had bought ingredients to make it themselves, and asked me to make sure they were doing it correctly. I was so excited to see that the women were willing to try something that I had suggested – it made me very hopeful that the work I am doing here will be sustainable!

I am also working with my association on doing some experiments for a product line, as I have been told that selling pure shea butter wholesale is difficult. The association, therefore, is exploring all business possibilities. We made shea honey soap, which turned out rather well. If anyone wants to know how to make hard soap, I have recipes!! It is very easy, fun, and for the women here, a wonderful income-generating-activity.

One idea the association is researching right now is the possibility of producing small hotel-sized bars of soap in the shapes of or with the logos of the hotels stamped into the soaps. Over the next month or two hopefully we will be trying some new things to get a product line into the market, so we will see how that will go.

I will be coming home in July for a few weeks, so hopefully I will see everyone then! 

Until next time,




  1. Hey it’s Harman!! And I can’t believe ur comin back for such a short time!! I read all ur posts… I haven’t forgot about you!! Miss u tons and I’m so proud of everything you are doing!!

    • I’ve missed you lots too! Yeah, I wanted to come home for longer, but two weeks will have to work for now. Hopefully I can see you when I come out, if you are in town! And I am way proud of you too – high school student!! Heh – I still remember when you were in 6th grade. Soon you’ll be in college!

  2. I would love the recipe for she hooney soap! A friend of mine who c=visits burkina faso a lot is interested in helping a copoperative there perhaps with soap making aimed at the international market

    I have just started making my own soaps too last year….using coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter olive oil and lye/water. But i would be so interested in what types of ingredients would be easily obtained locally for them
    Cheers, Joy

    • There is a really easy base shea soap recipe that we use, and then you can experiment with adding other materials like honey. Here is the recipe:

      – Huile de Coco (Coconut Oil) – 13 Liters
      – Beurre De Karite (Shea Butter, melted) – 10 Liters
      – Soude Caustic (lye) – 4 Kilos
      – Water – 11 Liters
      – Parfum (scent) (Optional) – 4 Capfulls

      Measure out the water and the soude caustic separately. In a large plastic bucket (no metal!) add the caustic soda to the water and stir until the soude is dissolved and the water is clear-ish. Let the water/soude mixture sit until cool or warm, but not hot. It will be very hot from the chemical reaction for some time.
      Measure out the oils – if the beurre de karite is not melted, melt it down to oil.
      In a separate bucket, mix the oils together. Mix them well so they are dissolved evenly with each other.
      While stirring the soude/water mixture, slowly add the oils, mixing the entire time. The solution will turn a tacky, thicker solution. At this point, add parfum if you are using it.
      Pour into molds, and allow to sit for at least 6 hours. Cut the soaps, or, if the mold is pre-cut, just allow the soap to sit. Allow the soap to cure/rest for at least 7 days before selling.

      The shea butter amount can be changed to add different kinds of oil. For example, for neem soap, substitute 2 Liters of shea butter for 2 Liters of neem oil. For aloe vera soap, substitute 2 Liters of shea butter for 2 Liters of aloe vera oil.
      You can add other things to the soap, such as honey, vanilla, sesame, green clay, and anything else you can think of! Add any of these things when you add the parfum, after you have mixed all the oils into the water/soude mix and the mixture is tacky. Experiment with amounts.

      Some of the ingredients I listed above, like sesame, honey, vanilla, neem oil, green and red clay, aloe vera, and moringa powder (a local tree) are locally and easily available. In some larger stores in the capitol you can also find more expensive ingredients like grapeseed oil. Please contact me by email ( if you have any more in depth questions/comments. Thanks a bunch!!

      • wow, thankyou SO much for such a long and detailed reply.
        I will pass this information on to her
        With all the beautiful ingredients available there I think grapeseed oil isn’t necessary, I read that it has a shorter shelf life than the other oils anyway.

        I am very grateful for your time, and hopefully it will make something good for the people in Burkina Faso


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