Palm oil

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jcandleattic

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Additional oils/additives are not needed in M&P. And you can only add a very small amount without it being too much and oozing out.
 

lsg

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As was stated, any additional ingredients need to be kept at a minimal amount.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Do you want to dissolve palm oil as-is to M&P base, or do you want to make M&P base from scratch by saponifying palm oil? Can you refer us to a source that clarifies what you mean by “bad”?

In the former case, keep in mind that M&P base can only carry a small amount of added oils (regardless which), and becomes cloudy/murky, soft, and less cleansing, or the oil settles at the top and doesn't mix into the molten base at all.

In the latter case, palm oil doesn't make a decent M&P base all by itself. It has a high percentage of unsaturated oils (high relative to high-performance M&P recipes made from mostly saturated FAs), it will sweat, dissolve quickly, and won't be very hard. It doesn't lather well, and on top of this it has a yellowish colour.

A label-appeal factor is the bad reputation of palm oil as a major driver of the deforestation in Southeast Asia. But this doesn't change the fact that, no matter how you turn it, high-palm M&P soaps do have a favourable ecological footprint, compared to the alternatives. I totally don't want to play down the ruthless devastation that the oil palm industry leaves behind, but the hate tourism that palm oil is suffering from is embarrassing to watch.
 

Annem

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Do you want to dissolve palm oil as-is to M&P base, or do you want to make M&P base from scratch by saponifying palm oil? Can you refer us to a source that clarifies what you mean by “bad”?

In the former case, keep in mind that M&P base can only carry a small amount of added oils (regardless which), and becomes cloudy/murky, soft, and less cleansing, or the oil settles at the top and doesn't mix into the molten base at all.

In the latter case, palm oil doesn't make a decent M&P base all by itself. It has a high percentage of unsaturated oils (high relative to high-performance M&P recipes made from mostly saturated FAs), it will sweat, dissolve quickly, and won't be very hard. It doesn't lather well, and on top of this it has a yellowish colour.

A label-appeal factor is the bad reputation of palm oil as a major driver of the deforestation in Southeast Asia. But this doesn't change the fact that, no matter how you turn it, high-palm M&P soaps do have a favourable ecological footprint, compared to the alternatives. I totally don't want to play down the ruthless devastation that the oil palm industry leaves behind, but the hate tourism that palm oil is suffering from is embarrassing to watch.
But what if it’s already in the soap base?
 

ResolvableOwl

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Like said, if it is a decent M&P base, then nothing speaks against palm oil from a technical point of view. Only “soft” label appeal reasons: the hypocritical pomposity of those who have chosen palm oil as the anti-christ.
 

lsg

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You can make you own base using palm and other oils. It may not be as clear as M&P made with coconut and Castor oil.

 

earlene

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@Annem, I think your question is unclear to some of us.

Please help be understand. Do you mean to ask something like, 'Why do some people think palm oil is a bad thing to use in soap?' Or do you mean something else?

If you do wonder why some people are anti-palm oil usage, then it would be about the environmental impact of palm oil production and rain forest de-forestation. There are a number of people who view this topic differently, of course.

If that is not your intended question, please clarify.
 

geniash

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I "think" the original question was a bit more generic, not necessarily centered around M&P soap. Some makers and a growing number of our customers frown upon Palm oil due to environmental concerns. A lot of rainforests are being converted to accommodate commercial palm oil production. I have someone asking me if I use palm oil in my product at every event. It gets a bit ridiculous - plant lovers frown upon tallow AND palm. I tend to purchase sustainably sourced palm for my own sanity.
 

paradisi

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It looks too like beef and to a lesser degree soybeans are causing way more deforestation in the Amazon & rainforests generally: anywhere from 80-90% of it now is down to cattle production (and soy going mostly to feed beef cattle). The soy moratorium is halting new clearing for raising soybeans, but clearing for beef production is going through the roof. And they're not plowing under soy plantations to reforest, so the whole topic is complicated.

France is instituting a program to grow soy alternatives at home, which is very cool.

I don't see enviro-themed soap & cosmetics bloggers referencing beef or tallow as products to avoid yet but would think that's coming.
 

ResolvableOwl

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Point is, for each and every ingredient one will always find some point that makes it worth being avoided. The line is blurred between “doing the right thing”, and playing big drama because “ingredient X is bad for Y” and demonstratively avoid it; not to be on the right side of history, but to tell everyone that one is on the right side of history.

It is not ideal to knowingly use a harmful product, but a deliberate commintment is still better than denying that every good is somehow harmful, and to earnestly trade off the pros and cons of the alternatives (and this includes deciding against over-simplistic crowd opinions). At least in my opinion – others might disagree if they see their right on bigotry in danger.
 

Annem

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@Annem, I think your question is unclear to some of us.

Please help be understand. Do you mean to ask something like, 'Why do some people think palm oil is a bad thing to use in soap?' Or do you mean something else?

If you do wonder why some people are anti-palm oil usage, then it would be about the environmental impact of palm oil production and rain forest de-forestation. There are a number of people who view this topic differently, of course.

If that is not your intended question, please clarify.
I was just wondering. I went to a number of sites that included Palm-free in their ingredient list and since a number of soap makers were against using that particular oil. Hence, my comment "is it bad"? Does Palm oil really make a difference and if so, what is that? Would it be better to avoid soap bases with Palm Oil?
 

ResolvableOwl

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Like said, from a technical perspective, there is nothing wrong with palm oil. It is a valuable base oil in many soap recipes, with little troubles (allergies, intolerance), and it is cheap, versatile, and easily accessible in large quantities.

Shops sell palm-free soaps to attract a certain audience of people, who think that the few grams of palm oil in soap makes a difference (“is a first step in the right direction”) to signal the multi-billion $$$ companies that they have exaggerated their practices to harm nature (mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia, but increasingly in African and American rainforests as well). Suppliers sell palm-free ingredients to soapmakers who want to have control over using palm oil or not.

Choice is a good thing. Without choice, we couldn't avoid some ingredients that might not come from sustainable production. But replacing them with other ingredients for which sustainable production might as well be questionable? Everyone has to decide themselves if that makes sense for themselves, and their target audience.


tl;dr: If you just want to make soap, take whatever fits your needs best, regardless if it contains palm or not. If you want to cater some market of people who might be opinionated towards palm oil, you might consider to avoid it (or explain yourself – but rational reasoning isn't always very popular).
 

earlene

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I was just wondering. I went to a number of sites that included Palm-free in their ingredient list and since a number of soap makers were against using that particular oil. Hence, my comment "is it bad"? Does Palm oil really make a difference and if so, what is that? Would it be better to avoid soap bases with Palm Oil?
Thank you for helping me understand what you meant.

Like @ResolvableOwl said, palm oil is a controversial topic in some circles. Some argue that even sustainably sourced palm oil contributes the negative environmental impact of deforestation of rain forests AND the elimination of habitats that sustain other non-human life. There are others who look at the lives of the less fortunate who would have no sustainable income or food on their tables without the jobs that palm oil production supports and see another side to the issue. There are many points of view in all arguments about whether or not to use certain ingredient in soap (or whatever other product one may choose to make or purchase.) You have to make up your own mind where you stand on the issues and proceed accordingly.

Even if you have a different point of view on a topic, showing compassion or at least reasonable consideration, it's still good to understand during discussions that may come up in the course of your interactions. Even giving soap to a family member can bring up these kinds of questions, so it's really a good thing that you are looking into what the issues are, because someone is bound to ask you or have a strong opinion on the matter at some point in your future soapmaking interactions.

Controversy aside, palm oil does produce a hard and long lasting bar of soap in a well balanced formula. It has been used instead of animal fats in soap for a very long time with much success. For folks who don't want to use animal fats, it is one of the most affordable fats for this purpose, and the reason it is so widely used. Besides soap, palm is used in cooking as well and you will see it listed as an ingredient in numerous products for sale in grocery stores.

IF you choose to avoid palm oil, your options for hard oils are either animal fats or other vegetation-derived hard oils, like cocoa butter, shea butter, mango butter, etc. and also 'waxes' like soy wax or Japan wax, for example. Depending on where you live, the 'butters' are rather expensive and sometimes harder to find in some areas, but easier to find in others, so that is another consideration. Soy wax is made from soy beans, and has been used in candles for a very long time. If you want to try soy wax as an alternative, there are several threads here at SMF on the subject of Soy Wax usage in soaps. Some folks here have and do use Japan wax, but I have no experience with it, as it is not readily available or affordable in my area, so I cannot tell you much about this alternative.

There are other options for hardening soap, but so off topic, I won't get into any more than I already have done.
 
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TheGecko

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What is so bad using palm-oil in melt and pour soaps?
It's not that Palm Oil is 'bad' per se, it makes for lovely soap in whatever process (cold, hot, melt & pour), it's been that the production of Palm Oil that has made it 'bad', specifically that in order to meet the demand for the cheap oil, there was wholesale destruction of tropical forests and caused grievous harm to the indigenous wildlife and people.

There are those that think Palm Oil production should be banned, but there are two consideration...you're talking about huge economic losses for these countries and it could create an every bigger environmental problem because the oil would need to be replaced by another oil. However, it has been shown that Palm Oil CAN be produced in a responsible and sustainable manner and without destroying the environment, wildlife and people, but of course, doing so makes it more expensive.

I use Palm Oil...partly because it does make for a lovely soap and partly because I want to support the RSPO effect.
 
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