So do they make/sell oils with only ONE type of fatty acid trygliceride?

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Oct 1, 2021
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Houston, Texas
We all know making soap from different oils will produce soap with different properties. But so far as I know every oil is a mix of different triglycerides containing different mixes of fatty acids. Is there any place that sells oil that are only one type of triglyceride, e.g., an oil that is 100% triglycerides where the fatty acid attached is linoleic acid?

If not, is it easy to separate out triglycerides that based on the different fatty acids, i.e. make it yourself? I would guess not.

But it would be kind of cool to see how different soaps come out where they are based on only a single type of trigyceride/fatty acid!


What if I....
Supporting Member
Mar 29, 2021
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Omaha, NE
Yes they do, however the quantities available and pricing are often geared toward labs or manufacturers. I have seen pure stearic acid (the real deal, not the half palmitic, half stearic stuff) and 99% pure oleic acid. I have seen soaps list certain fatty acids like myristic acid and palmitic acid on the label as well, so I know that's out there.

There are certain fats that are unusually pure in certain fatty acids as well. To start with, castor oil is rare in it's natural purity in one single fatty acid-ricinoleic acid, at 98%. HO sunflower oil has an exceptional amount of oleic acid (83%). Soy wax purportedly has 99% stearic acid (with the glycerin intact) but do some heavy reading on that before you buy any. Japan Wax has 80% palmitic acid. Pomegranate seed oil has 78% linolenic acid (good luck sourcing this!).

The above is taken from soap calc numbers, however if you have access to SDS/manufacturing documents it's best to confirm because there is some variation between manufacturers and processes.
Jan 14, 2021
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Would have given the same advice as @Johnez if I weren't sound asleep at that time 🤗. I love time zones!

Maybe an addition to this is that when you are aiming for soap, you don't have to make the detour to triglycerides. It's much easier to get hold of the free fatty acids ad good purity; if you want to make a soap “as if” it were made from pure triglycerides, just use those, neutralise with NaOH (hot process), and add 7.7 g of glycerol per 10 g of NaOH.
Reasonably pure lauric/myristic/palmitic/stearic/oleic acids are quite readily available as FFA (e. g. as M&P base ingredients). PUFAs (linoleic/linolenic) not so much, but high-PUFA soap (like from pure HL sunflower or safflower oil) has its own issues, and isn't worth the hassle IMHO (Remember the 100% canola soap? That's only some 27% PUFA, imagine how four times that PUFA amount would work out…). For ricinoleic acid, use castor oil as-is.

But this brings us to another major issue with your question: it is hard to predict FA blends from comparing/extrapolating single-FA soaps. Best example: castor. As little as 20%, let alone 100% it can ruin lather, and nothing indicates the miraculous effect that 3…6% of it does to an oil blend. Or hardness: a mostly-oleic castile soap hardens up nicely. Why bother adding saturated FAs at all? Or, on the contrary, all fully-saturated soaps are rock hard. Which one would qualify best to harden up a soft-oil recipe? Making a high-stearate soap is impossible with CP, a literal pain even with HP – how could people be bothered at all to work with stearic acid? Which FA does affect lather in a positive or negative way? How to judge skin feel? What about superfat, unsaponifiables, minor fatty acids?
In short: as appealing as this idea sounds, it poses more question than it answers. It is more insightful to take an established formula, and tweak the ingredient percentages to modify single FA content by a few %, and compare these, to understand what properties the FAs affect at typical usage rates.

Side note: It sounds like you are having bar soap in mind. That actually poses a pretty severe limitation on what can be done recipe-wise (to get something that can be used like soap). In fact I have done something as close to single-FA as possible from household means, but for liquid soap (incidentally escalated from a comment of @Johnez – geez, always the same names…). There you don't need to hope for a bar to solidify, the PUFA margins for rancidity are not as tight, and heat can convince insoluble components (like stearate soap) to report. Even then, the interferences between FAs are complicated enough (viscosity thinning by coconut and castor, turbidity, lather thickness and longevity, foamer bottle performance).
Nov 19, 2013
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And remember to add in the glycerine if using a free fatty acid instead of a triglyceride, or you really aren't making a good comparison.

In some ways I do like the idea, but at the same time there is so much more in the oils than what we see in the acid profile that i think it would take away some of the magic. Example being lard and shea having a fatty acid profile which is very close and yet the two fats produce two very different soaps. Using free fatty acids and glycerine to "reproduce" it would lack that "other" property for me, personally

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