100% Palm Oil Soap Recipe

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Try this homemade 100% palm oil soap recipe – talk about a recipe filled with controversy… With so many soap making blogs defending palm oil-free recipes, and refusing to use palm oil, why on earth one of them presents a 100% palm oil recipe. Well… Keep reading, and you’ll find out. 

1-Oil Soap Recipes

I don’t know why I love 1-oil soap recipes. They are so simple to make: one oil, lye and water, and you don’t need anything else. Of course, like the next soapmaker, I like to experiment with oil mixtures, but there’s something about 1-oil soap that attracts me. I suppose it’s because of its simplicity – and if it’s a locally produced oil, cheap and of good quality (assuming local production is good, of course), it’ the most logical choice.

During my research for lard and palm oil recipes, I’ve stumbled upon this website, http://www.zensoaps.com/singleoil.htm and I definitely plan to experiment on many of these 1-oil recipes. This is probably the forth 1-oil soap recipe I try – with success.

This is also a very good recipe for soap maker beginners due to its simplicity.

Why Use Palm Oil?

The use of palm oil in food products and cosmetic ones has attracted the concern of environmental groups; the high oil yield of the trees has encouraged wider cultivation, leading to the clearing of natural habitat forests in parts of Indonesia to make space for oil-palm monoculture. So, it’s only logical to boycott palm oil, in an attempt to save wild animal endangered species, by publishing only handmade palm oil-free soap recipes, and simply refusing to buy it and use it.

Now, let me give you another way to see this issue:

  • Palm oil is not just a soap oil used by the cosmetic industry (this actually represents only 5%-10% of world consumption). It’s also, and above all, a vegetable oil that makes part of the daily diet in a lot of countries,namely in Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia. As a cheap, healthy vegetable oil, it is a basic, vital ingredient in many families’ tables. To ban it, is to ban a good food source from impoverished people who will simply stop having this ingredient, as I seriously doubt that they even have the option of going to the supermarket and opt to choose another oil… 
  • Soap making is a relatively cheap business area, that can be an income complement, or even the only one, for many poor families.
  • Cosmetic industry and unethical governments aside, palm oil IS a very sustainable product and is very good to make soap. It has one of the highest yields, meaning that you need less plant material to produce 1 liter of palm oil compared with, for example, sunflower oil. The ingredient itself makes for a relatively balanced soap, having in mind it’s a 1-oil, with no oil mixtures.
  • If world usage of palm oil in cosmetics represents 5% to 10%, and handmade soap is even less than that in total cosmetics consumption, aside from spreading a message, we will make zero difference in stopping to use palm oil 

Summarizing, banning palm oil from handmade soap, and avoiding to publish soap recipes with palm oil won’t make a difference in its production on in the risk of further deforestation. 

We will only be limiting soap makers with very limited access to soap ingredients of more information about palm oil and its usage… Besides, being a vital food ingredient for many poor families, it doesn’t sit right on me to simply say that palm oil usage should be banished.

So, what CAN we ACTUALLY to do? 

Always Use RSPO Palm Oil, When Possible

Ok, it’s a fact that palm oil has been the culprit for severe deforestation of virgin forests in Indonesia, endangering some wild animals species. Palm oil is cheap to manufacture, due to its high yield, and it’s used worldwide, mostly in food production. Globalization made it possible to concentrate mass production in a couple of countries and they take economical advantage of that, at the cost of unsustainability and unethical practices.

This lead to the creation of an association that produces sustainable palm oil, the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil. Whenever you wish to use palm oil, make sure it’s from a producer from this association – you will be buying palm oil from sustainable and ethical producers. 

I’d strongly advise you to read these articles about the subject:

In Europe, namely in Portugal, RSPO palm oil is readily available in supermarkets, and cosmetic suppliers have an increase range of organic products, where palm oil is only available (organic and non-organic) from RSPO sources.

Therefore, I’d advise you to not avoid to use palm oil if you wish to use it in your soap experiences, OR if it’s the only oil avalable to you locally. Always try to buy palm oil from RSPO producers.

As always, I recommend using your locally available oil, of local production (as long as your local producer does fulfill good manufacturing practices) and usually cheaper. In Portugal, for example, that means to use olive oil.

Other Ingredients

With so much to talk about palm oil, the other ingredients are practically forgotten. However there are still some space to talk about the other main ingredient of this recipe – calendula.

Calendula

Calendula is a well-known herb and uplifting ornamental garden plant that has been used topically, ceremonially, and as a dye and food plant for centuries. 

This recipe uses calendula dried petals as the natural colorant added to the lye water. Some of the dried petals are used whole as decoration.

Fragrance

I wanted to make an experiment and see how ylang -ylang III essential oil behaves on its own in soap. So this is the essential oil used for soap fragrance. However, you can use your favorite essential oil for soap, or a blend of your choice. Some suggestions:

  • Lemongrass (60%) and Cedarwood (40%) essential oil blend
  • Litsea Cubeba/May Chang essential oil
  • Lavender (4), Ylang Ylang III (1) and Benzoin (1) essential oil blend   

Soap Recipe for Beginners

This is a great soap recipe for beginners, especially to learn about fast tracing and how to deal with hard oils in soap making. Similar to How To Make Coconut Soap and Homemade Lard Soap Recipe, this soap traces quite fast when you are using the stick blender. You might pass liquid trace without even realizing. 

Because you only have to add the anti-oxidant and the essential oil afterwards, it’s relatively easy to save if you get distracted. Most likely you will pour this soap batter into your molds with a spoon 🙂

Other Palm Oil Soap Recipes

If you’re looking for more recipes with palm oil (in a mixture) check out the following links: 

Related Posts

Watch These Videos Before Starting Your Recipe

100% Palm Oil Soap Recipe

Sofia Matias
This is another easy one-fat homemade soap recipe, made with 100% palm oil. Palm oil is, in my opinion, a great ingredient with a bad reputation.
In Africa, palm oil is quite common and this would be a great handmade soap for african soap makers, cheap and acessible to everyone. The result is a great, well balanced soap, with enough conditioning and cleasning properties, with good stable lather (although not abundant), pretty much like a lard soap.
Difficulty: Easy
Weight: 210g (7,4 oz)
Superfat: 5%
Lye Concentration: 30%
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
MethodCold Process
ProductSoap Bar
Servings3 soap bars
Cost$3 – $10 / 2,6€ – 8€

Ingredients
 

Lye Water

Oils/Fat

Add After Trace

Decoration

Instructions

Get Ready!

  • Wear goggles and gloves! Look at “Safety Recommendations” in the video above or in How to Make Soap From Scratch
  • Watch the video above about "Cold Process Soap Making tutorial" or read the post How To Make Soap by Cold Process Step-by-Step for instructions on cold process soap making before starting. These are generic but important steps for all recipes.
  • Assemble everything: ingredients, equipment, safety equipment. Prepare your workstations. Measure all the ingredients. Don’t start the recipe without having everything ready!
  • The essential oil is optional. It adds scent to your soap. You can choose the one from the recipe or another like lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass. You can also choose a fragrance oil. But do not exceed the 6,5 ml limit. Your soap will be really cheap if you skip this.

Heat the Oils

  • Melt the palm oil as it remains solid at room temperature.

Make the Lye Water

  • Make the lye solution according to How To Make Lye Water. Mix it until the vapors start to dissipate. Add the dried petals at the end.

Make the Soap Batter

  • Use as target temperature 28ºC for the oil-solution mixture. If necessary, heat the palm oil a little.
  • Reach trace with the immersion blender. You will reach trace very, very fast, be ready.
  • Add the extract, essential oil and calendula dried petals/powder after tracing. Mix with a spoon. Be swift with this operation and molding.

Molding and Curing

  • Pour the dough in the molds with a pitcher and sprinkle with alcohol or witch hazel.
  • Let it set for 48 hours.
  • Unmold and let the bars cure for 4 to 6 weeks. See How To Cure Soap.

Video

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8 thoughts on “100% Palm Oil Soap Recipe”

  1. Glad you recommended the RSPO palm oil in your post! Thanks for highlighting the numerous benefits of palm oil in our society! I can’t do without using palm oil as a soup ingredient. It’s an important material for soap making. Palm oil is useful for correcting our sight. It should be moderately taken and can bring many yields, to be precise. The use of palm oil is immeasurable to mankind. It’s better for consumption than groundnut oil. It doesn’t have side effects,unlike groundnut oil. Thanks.

    Joyce

    Reply
    • Hello Joyce and thanks for your comment.

      Indeed, and similar to lard, palm oil has an undeserved bad reputation. In case of lard, it’s because it’s an animal fat, in case of palm oil is due to the related environmental problems. Both fats are very good (they are actually similar in its fatty acid profile), great for soap and good for your diet, as long as you keep its consumption moderate.

      I am glad there are more people that think that palm oil should be used – especially when there’s a certification (RSPO) that guarantees sustainable and ethical production practices, which is more than you can say about many other oils.

      Cheers,

      Sofia

      Reply
  2. This post is very informative and educative, I never knew you can make soap with palm oil. It also has many other benefits, like; supports eye health, improves blood circulation, rich in vitamin K and many other things. You can even cook with it as well. I am going to try some soap recipe which you listed.

    Reply
    • Hello Dozzy, thanks for your comment and the useful information.

      I am glad you liked this post about palm oil soap. Actually, not only you can make soap with palm oil, this is actually a very common ingredient even in commercial soaps: sodium palmate, or sodium palm kernelate (this last one is made with palm kernel oil). I can even go as far as to say that you can make soap with ANY fat, vegetable or animal 🙂

      I didn’t know that palm oil was rich in vitamin K. As far as I know that vitamin is very good to fight under-eye dark skin. Palm oil seems to be good as well for an eye serum 🙂 I’ll try to remember this for the next time I make an eye serum. This is my current recipe: Homemade Eye Serum for Dark Circles.

      Thanks for the info.

      Cheers,

      Sofia

      Reply
  3. hey there Sofia,

    Great post and thank you so much for those great soap recipes. I always wanted to try making soaps bu i had no idea how to or where to start. My wife loves buying fancy soaps and i think it will be a real surprise if i could make her a few soaps. 

    Thank you again for the great tips, it will really come in handy.

    Regards

    Lawrence

    Reply
    • Hello Lawrence and thanks for your interest in soapmaking!

      Although I usually advise against it, as soap doesn’t really need fancy smells to be great, if you want to impress your wife, buy a good quality fragrance oil (to be good you should spend around $4/10 ml. Cheap ones tend to be very artificial) with your wife’s favorite scent, and use it on your soap 🙂 just use up to 3% or follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

      As for the soap itself, you can definitely use this palm oil soap, or this recipe of How To Make Coconut Soap. Just switch the essential oils there with your fragrance.

      Hope your surprise to your wife goes well!

      Cheers,

      Sofia

      Reply
  4. I love that picture there at the start. It makes you want to bite into it. I love the artistic way lotys of soap nowadays looks like confectionery. Palm oil is definitely a great product for making soap with and youve done a great job of highlighting this here. Thanks for sharing this article. It’s been educational.

    Reply
    • Hello Kwidzin.

      Haha, I don’t advise you to eat it, no matter how edible it looks 😀 But this is the beauty of it. This is nothing but lye, water, palm oil and calendula petals!! And you have a great-looking soap!

      Yes, I believe someone needs to state that palm oil, by itself, it’s good!! And given the fact that the cosmetic industry represents as little as 1% of worldwide palm oil production, and that handmade soap are much, much less than that, I don’t understand the generalized “ban” on palm oil in soap recipes. What we should do is encourage the usage of RSPO palm oil, and use this great ingredient in handmade soap more often.

      Thanks for your comment and interest in palm oil soap!

      Sofia

      Reply

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