I can't seem to find palm oil anywhere in town and the recipes I have in my book call for it. Do I have to use palm oil or can I get by with something else? Same question for palm kernel oil. Thanks in advance for any advice!
I have all my own base oils spreadsheeted (i.e. not including oils I don't have) showing hardness, cleansing, conditioning, bubbly/creamy lather, fatty acid line-up. Looking just in my own oils the one I see that is closest to palm oil is lard. Both are similarly high in conditioning and creamy lather, low in the rest, and both have similar (but not same) amounts of their primary fatty acids oleic and palmitic, lesser amounts of linoleic, and some stearic (lard more than palm). The lard's a bit softer but not by much.
So that explains the logic behind subbing lard for palm. The PKO is even more obvious. It's high in lauric and the only oils in my spreadsheet with lauric are CO and babassu. (Same for myristic but to a lesser degree.) The other qualities and fatty acids are also similar.
I've been building up my spreadsheet from the values reported by SoapCalc. It's very handy to look at the qualities on one side and the fatty acids on the other side, then draw conclusions about what fatty acids cause which qualities. For example, lauric goes with cleansing and bubbly lather. Oleic goes with conditioning, although castor gets its conditioning from ricinoleic (apparently) although hemp oil seems to get its conditioning from linoleic.