Making Coconut Oil in Senegal for Soap Making

Awa Sire Toure trains women in Ziguinchor how to make coconut oil. The women are part of a disabled group who had come together to create an organization of support. Benjamin and I were there, in the Casamance region of Senegal, to teach the women how to make soap. We found out that they produced the coconut oil that we were using in the handcrafted soap. The coconut oil is virgin and smells amazing. It is almost too precious to use in soap but it is a sustainable resource that they have available here.

Awa joined the disabled group and started going to meetings. She soon grew tired of all of the sitting around and speeches. One thing we quickly noticed about Awa is that she is determined and works very hard. She told the group that she knew how to make coconut oil and offered to show them how so that they could sell it and earn money as a group. She learned to make coconut oil from her grandmother.

After a workshop one day Benjamin asked if they could show us how they make it. Without even thinking about it, they grabbed some coconuts and the very simple equipment needed and got to work! It is a very simple, but laborious process.

The women shelled the coconuts, hacking at them with a small machete-like knife and grated down the flesh using fine graters. They generously passed around the coconut water for us to try. It was refreshing.

grating coconuts in senegal

Then they put Benjamin to work grating the coconuts. They were quit pleased when he jumped in to help.


After the coconuts were grated down, the pulp was put into a bucket and water was added. Awa squeezed the coconut pulp and water mixture with her hands.



The pulp and water mixture was then put through a strainer. The pulp was put back into the bucket, water was added and the process was repeated three times in total.


The coconut milk was then put through a fine mesh strainer into a new clean bucket to remove any pulp.


They put the lid on the bucket and let it set overnight.


The next day Awa scooped out the curds that had formed and put them into a pan.

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She turned the fire on and after cooking it for a bit while stirring the oil separated out.

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Voila! We now have coconut oil. It smells so good and feels wonderful.

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Benjamin and I are in Senegal to teach a group of women all about soapmaking. If you’d like to support this project, please sign up for a monthly donation at! As a THANK YOU, you will receive Soap Collaborative every month. 🙂  Thank you!

Proceeds from purchases at go to support Lovin’ Soap Project.

Happy Soaping!

Amanda Gail

By |2017-02-01T15:32:33+00:00May 1st, 2016|Lovin Soap Project|11 Comments

About the Author:

I am a soapmaker, author and blogger! I started blogging in 2008, sharing soap recipes, design tutorials and publishing articles on various topics of soapmaking.


  1. Concepcion August 17, 2017 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    It is very interesting to be in that part of the world not as a tourist but as part of the country, I lived 2 years in Africa and 8 years in Indonesia where I learned to prepared my own coconut oil the process it’s very interesting and wonderful…like magic!! and the coconut oil result is and super extra-virgin and sooo good for the health. Unfortunately I try to make my own coconut oil here in the USA without success, I make 1 liter with 6 coconuts in Indonesia, and almost 1/2 cup with 10 coconuts here in USA.

    Love your mission!

  2. Robin June 13, 2017 at 7:47 am - Reply

    How would we purchase Thier coconut oil?

  3. Musaazi Ntege Julius May 2, 2016 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Very interesting when are you coming to Uganda?

  4. Robyn May 2, 2016 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    That is amazing! I love keeping up with your soaping adventures!

  5. Odette Handley May 2, 2016 at 7:39 am - Reply

    WOW and we thought coconut oil came from a bucket!! Ha ha. WHat a process and how lucky are we that we buy it in a use-able state!

  6. Cee May 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you all for continued success!

  7. Rose May 1, 2016 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    I’m sure that they were so pleased to be able to give back to you by teaching you to make oil! Love you guys!

  8. Janie May 1, 2016 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    It’s great that they taught you something too! I knew that coconut was soaked in water to make coconut milk, but didn’t know that the milk was used to make coconut oil. Makes sense though. Thanks for all that you, Benjamin, and the others do to help the women.

  9. Rose May 1, 2016 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    What an amazing process! I’ve helped my grandmother grate coconut to make coconut candy but never knew how to go past this to make the oil. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  10. Michele May 1, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply

    How wonderful!! Love watching this process <3 I imagine they will teach you many things as you will teach them. Win~Win. Love it!

  11. Rabeah Marzuki May 1, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Wow, Abigail dear , its a noble work though! I wish I could join your mission. . Wanna follow your noble deeds towards other mankind.

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