Olive oil question.....sorry to sound stupid!

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May 15, 2008
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I know that Pomace grade olive oil is best for soap making but if you have to use grocery store olive oil, mine doesn't carry Pomace grade, which is the best 2nd choice? And do I have to change my lye calculations? All the lye calculators I've looked at only have olive oil listed. Are they all the same for the lye calculation? Sorry to sound like such a beginner!
Hi Smith, and welcome to the forum! :)

There seems to be some disagreement about which grade OO is best for soap making according to the several books I've read on the subject. I'll say though that it appears most of the books say it doesn't make all that much difference, so cost might be the deciding factor. I've also heard that pomace has more non-saponifiables which might be good in the soap. I've heard that these impurities might accelerate or catalyze your batch and make it go pretty fast from trace to solidifying.

Please note that I'm a newbie so most of what I say is book learning. Perhaps the experienced soapers will have a better answer for you.

My own feeling is that it doesn't make a lot of difference, particularly between extra virgin, virgin and plain refined (one grade up from pomace). However, I have a good friend who is a professional soaper and she uses extra virgin.

I bought my OO at Trader Joe's Market. I don't know why but the extra virgin and regular were both $6.99 so I got the extra virgin. You can see my results in my post "first batch" thread here in the forum. By the way the OO makes very nice soap. I added a bit of palm and coconut to improve the lather and hardness a bit. It's as good as any soap I've ever bought.

I suggest you go with either regular or virgin, and leave the pomace for when you get more experienced.

BTW my EVOO was $6.99 a liter ($26.46/gal or $3.45/lb, just for reference).

I'll be interested in hearing what others are paying for their OO.
I usually buy a 3 litre tin of Regular OO from Superstore and pay $16.99. I don't like to use pomace because they use chemicals to extract the oil.

Extra virgin is the first oil to be removed from the olive followed by grade a (virgin) and b (regular). Last is the pomace and sometimes it will have particles of olive (a hazy green suspension) in the oil. This is what I'm told speeds up the saponification process so considerably.

Play around with the different grades. After having seen Lovehounds lovely yellow colored soap I'm tempted to try a few different ones myself. I've seen Extra Virgin that is yellow, green or gold so it could be fun.

Pure Pomace Olive oil is great to soap with. However - some manufacturers market oils as pomace grade olive oil when it is in fact a mix of olive and other oils. Read the ingredients to make sure that it is 100% olive oil and you should be ok. When trying new brands I come across - I always make a test batch of castile before buying too much of that particular brand of olive.