What Makes Our Black Soap… Black?

by Yoyin Familusi

One of our top sellers has to be our black soap - and people are always asking us, what is it that makes this soap black?! Part of the Sewa brand is being transparent and sharing the stories behind the products we make, so we wanted to dive into the history of Black Soap and where it comes from, and more importantly - why we love it! Let’s dive in.

A rich history

Black soap is an age-old tradition from West Africa, the process of making this soap is something passed through generations and often varies from family to family. In West Africa, specifically Nigeria and Ghana, the tradition of Black Soap is very popular. It is traditionally made from plant based oils and potash. Potash is ash that comes from different sources, such as the bark of medicinal trees, cocoa pod, plantain skins, and palm kernels etc. Different cultures have their unique recipes. One of the things that made me start the Sewa brand is my love of passing on these traditions from my home. My mom made Black Soap for me, and now I make it for my family. I remember my mum further customized my black soap with African sandalwood! This history and memory is very special to me. 

What makes it black?

Well, West African black soap isn’t actually ‘black’ it is really more of a deep brown. Each batch of black soap will have a different shade of brown based on a number of factors such as the raw materials used,how long the soap was processed for and the actual formula used to produce it. The dark color of the soap comes primarily from the potash which depending on how burnt the ash is can vary in color. The Sewa black soap however, is unique! Our’s is an even darker colour because we add Neem leaves, Neem is a tree that grows in the tropics and its leaves are antibacterial and amazing for skin! Neem leaves are a beautiful dark green colour and when added to our Black Soap recipe they deepen the colour, making our Sewa Black Soap super special.