Kpangnan Butter – A Treasure Uncovered

The little lump of butter up there on the left may not look like much, but it's a treasure trove of hair and skin-loving goodness.

In my ongoing quest for the ideal butter for lotion bars, kpangnan literally showed up unannounced on my doorstep (as a small sample packet from my supplier). The timing was perfect – it was immediately incorporated into a lotion bar. 

Let's have a look at how what this butter has to offer and find out if behaved well enought to make it to the lotion butter winners list (hint: it did).

Say it With Me

Even though kpangnan butter doesn't have much going for it in the memorable name department, it's actually much easier to say this name than it than it is to spell it.

It's pronounced 'Panya'. 

Kpangnan (INCI: Pentadesma butyracea) butter is also known as Kanga, Kanya, Painya, and Akpoto.

The butter is made from the seeds of the (edible) berries that grow on the Kpangnan tree. Exactly how the butter is processed is a bit of a blank area – the most informative piece of material I found pronounced kpangan as 'a sustainable choice'.

Since this Ghana-native tree is indigenous to areas that are potentially at risk, my best guess is that the butter is hand-produced locally and is helping to keep communities alive and thriving. That could be why the kpangnan tree is known as 'the butter tree' where it grows.

The Treasure Inside

Kpangan butter has an enviable profile. Its content of soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory components makes this butter ideal for both consumption and application.

Here are the goodie-contents headlines of what you'll find in kpangnan butter:
  • Vitamin f
  • omega 6
  • oleic acid (44%)
  • stearic acid (45%)
  • tocopherol (vitamin e)
  • and stigmasterol

Say stig-what?

Plant Power

A precursor to vitamin d, Stigmasterol belongs to a group of plant sterols. Stigmasterol has been showing some impressive cancer-inhibiting properties in studies (a few links below). Mind you, all of the studies are based on consumption of stigmasterol - not from applying it topically. 

Good For Hair, Good Everywhere

My supplier recommends this butter for hair care - particularly coily, kinky and curly (cKc) hair. While developing the different cKc products I have made, more often than not the ingredients that were recommended especially for kinks and curls all seem to work fabulously on my skin. 

In Lotion Bars

Kpangnan is a lovely butter and works very well in lotion bars. It is not among the greasiest (a plus), and the scent is quite neutral (another plus). Texture-wise, I would place this butter somewhere between cocoa butter and shea (three plusses!). 

Future Plans

I would like to try kpangnan as a whipped butter with my calendula-infused almond oil in the mix. Playing around with it as a solo ingredient is also on my to-do list. The little sample packet I received was just enough for a single lotion bar, so I wasn't able to aquaint myself with it as I have the other butters.

This treasure trove of properties is why kpangnan butter needs further exploration in my lab
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Soothing
  • Encourages healing (showing positive results with excema)

 Do Tell

Have you ever worked with this butter? Which product did you use it in, and how did you like working with it?

More Info on Stigmasterol and kpangnan

Osteoarthritis and Cartiledge writes about Stigmasterols promising results in tests
Stigmasterol (wikipedia)


Signe said…
Wow, one exotic butter again! Did you buy this from Aroma-Zone too? I couldn't find any butters from their pages, I might have wrong link?
Abigail said…
Hi Lisa, this info on different butters is so interesting. I am looking into dabbling with some ingredients and maybe making a few products for personal use. Would you be knid ebought to advise a few good 'starter ingredients' for me to play with? any advice would be very gratefully received!
María said…
Hi Signe,
I've seen this butter ar Aroma-zone (AZ). I hope Lisa does not char I post the link here, but if so, please remove it.
On the AZ site, the best way to discover their products is the site in French, the English site does not display all their beautiful products.
Here is the link for the kpagnan butter,
And again, sorry if I did wrong.
LisaLise said…
Hi Signe - Yes this is from Aroma Zone. Check Maria's link below. They have quite a lovely selection of butters.

Hi Abigail - I thinks it's great you want to start making your own products! I suggest starting with anhydrous products (no water content). Working with oils and butters and waxes will allow you to start making body butters, lip balms, whipped butters, oil-based serums and lotion bars without having to splash out on too many ingredients. Check the how to pages on this blog for a few recipe ideas. A few basic carrier oils such as sweet almond oil and jojoba are good to start with. As for butters - cocoa butter is a classic, shea is quite popular but a bit tricky to work with. Beeswax is a much have. If you want to work with scent, there are many essential oils that are not very pricey - but do read up on them before using them! Best of luck with it!

Hi María - thank you for posting the link to Aroma Zones butter! I just got a new order in of it today and can't wait to start playing-- ooh so many plans! By the way - I didn't know Aroma Zone had a English language site? I have always gone through Google translate to visit their site. It makes the pages load a bit slower, but at least I can read everything.
Signe said…
Thanks very much, Maria! Now I got the right page, there are lots of wonderful butters in it! My french is...little bit weak, I guess. But I think I could manage to order something from there now.
LisaLise said…
Hi Signe - great! It did take me a while to get used to going through Google translate to manage my way around Aroma Zones site, but I am quite pleased with the quality of their products and the documentation they offer. Also, they have quite a few things I haven't seen elsewhere.
Signe said…
...and thanks, Lise! We wrote comments at the same time, that's why I didn't see your comment when I was answering for Maria.
María said…
I have the chance I can speach French so I can surf on their website with no issues. They have also a lot of information about the product that you can discover when you click on "en savoir plus" (to know more). For example, this is the technical info of the kpagnan butter on the site, FYI:
I'm not very comfortable posting a link to a specific store, and I don't work for them or anything, but me, being a DIY aficionada with no official studies on this (I'm not chemist, pharmacist or similar, but only physio), I find this kind of information very useful concerning products composition, uses and ideas.
Hope this helps.
Thank you Lise for all the information you share with us. I confess I've become addicted to your blog, above all I love the studies you know and you make us know about the cosmetic insudtry and DIY :)
Tina Rasmussen, CPH said…
Hi Lise,

thanks for an informative post which also turned out to be a reminder for me that I have some of this but had forgotten about it and not really tested it! Mine was bought as Painya butter and is more yellow than yours. It really is not greasy and smell almost like chocolate, I guess now is the time to work with it!

When I bought it I remember reading a lot about how people compared painya to shea, calling it "yellow shea" or even "fake shea" and how shea was the one you wanted cause it is better for your hair. Have you read about that? I think its mostly related to people with afro hair or curly hair.

Also ladies, thanks for enlightening me on AromaZone's French site, I was wondering whether I was loosing it :-o

A wonderful weekend to you all!
LisaLise said…
Hi María - Your comments and links are always welcome (and my goodness you are making me blush with all of this praise!)! I don't mind mentioning a company that gives good service and has good product. (And I get absolutely no sponsor money from any company, website etc).

Hi Tina - Yes, you are absolutely right about 'yellow shea' or 'fake shea'. I think this is a highly unfair categorisation, because this butter can definitely carry its own weight! Shea is indeed considered better for hair, and you are also correct in that it is coily curly hair that is meant. Curls, coils and kinks need much more moisture than straight hair. Let us know what you make with your butter!
KMY said…
Lise - I bought 16 oz of this a year ago from Aromatics International, specifically for the anti-inflammatory properties. I love the stuff! Unfortunately now that I need to restock, they are all out (Jan 2017). If you find it somewhere please let me know, on your Formulator's Forum is probably best.
LisaLise said…
HI KMY - Check French Aroma Zone for this butter. You'll find them in the shared resources area of 'the Kitchen' under lists - ingredients suppliers - Europe :)