What's wrong with Palm Oil?

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hyperhounds

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I seem to find a lot of soap vendors online that post all their products are "palm free". Why are they avoiding palm oil? Is there something wrong with it? is it because of allergies?
 

snappyllama

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There is concern that palm is a leading cause of orangutan habitat destruction through rainforest logging to clear trees for cropland. There is Sustainable Palm Oil available, but it is debatable whether it's simply a label and the palm itself was harvested in non sustainable ways. I recommend doing your own research to see where you stand on the issue since I don't want to hit anyone's hot buttons here. :)
 

Obsidian

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Its because of deforestation and the killing of orangutans that happen during palm harvest.
 

KristaMarie

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Usually it's not because of allergies, but because of environmental issues. Unsustainable farming techniques and deforestation/loss of habitat for, most often discussed, orangutans. Sustainable palm is available, but questionable. It's something you'll have to research for yourself to make the best decision for you and your products.
 

penelopejane

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Occasionally it is because of allergies.
Palm oil is very high in salicylates. Just about every prepared food in Australia has palm oil in it (labelled as Vegetable Oil). Salicylate is a naturally occurring chemical in a lot of fruit, vegetables and other foods. I am allergic/intolerant to salicylates and it seems to be increasingly common. Fibromyalgia is also exacerbated by salicylates.

You can absorb salicylates through the skin from washing with soap and of course from using lotions and creams.

Still, it is about personal choice and how far you are prepared to go for your principles and possible health consequences, if that is an issue for you.
 
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Susie

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Occasionally it is because of allergies.
Palm oil is very high in salicylates. Just about every prepared food in Australia has palm oil in it (labelled as Vegetable Oil). Salicylate is a naturally occurring chemical in a lot of fruit, vegetables and other foods. I am allergic/intolerant to salicylates and it seems to be increasingly common. Fibromyalgia is also exacerbated by salicylates.

You can absorb salicylates through the skin from washing with soap and of course from using lotions and creams.

Still, it is about personal choice and how far you are prepared to go for your principles and possible health consequences, if that is an issue for you.
I have looked through every medical journal I can access articles through the internet (I am an RN, and subscribe to quite a few), including the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, and can not locate one single valid scientific or medical source corroborating any tie between fibromyalgia and salicylates. Nor can I locate one source that states that one can absorb salicylates through wash off products. Since I have fibromyalgia, I am quite interested in this subject. Could you possibly provide documentation of this phenomena?
 

TeresaT

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I'm going to chime in on the Palm Oil issue. Mods, feel free to delete this. I do not think there is anything "wrong" with palm oil. It is a personal choice, just like lard is. However, like others have pointed out, palm oil plantations are being created by clear cutting valuable rainforests. Those rainforests host myriad numbers of species, known and undiscovered, as well as provide food, habitat and a living for humans. Deforestation destroys all of that. The animals have no where to go and the humans get to have jobs on the plantations. However, they are basically slaves and paid slave wages with little to no rights and or healthcare. The botanicals they used to rely on for medical purposes have now been destroyed to make room for the palm oil trees they are maintaining/harvesting. I personally believe the palm oil industry is becoming the factory farms that Americans know and hate in the Palm oil producing countries. The only people truly benefiting from the industry are the owners and corporations. There are old family run palm oil farms, and I would purchase palm oil from those sources if I could guarantee I was supporting "local" farmers. However, since I cannot guarantee my money will not be supporting "local" farmers, I choose not to use palm or palm kernel oil. For me personally, it is not just about the orangutans, it is about raping a land, its people and profiting off of their misery. My personal avoidance of all things palm will not make one bit of difference in a billion dollar industry. But it makes me feel better about myself knowing, in my own tiny little way, I am not contributing to the problem. I use lard instead. It is a by-product of an industry that, although I find to be pretty darn disgusting, is not going to close up shop anytime soon. It's bad enough we have these industrial farms in the U.S., that have had a detrimental effect on family farms, I don't think I need to support them in foreign countries as well. That's my two cents on the palm oil industry. So, there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG WITH USING PALM. It is a personal choice. However, I think you should do some research on the palm oil industry and "arm yourself" against nutters that will go ape-sh*t on you (pun intended) if you use it. They'll accuse you of killing those poor "orangatangs" in "Africa." (Yep. I had to let someone know "orangutans" are in Borneo, not Africa. I was met with, "where's Borneo?" My reply? "Next to Sumatra. Do some research.")
 

shunt2011

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I agree there is nothing wrong with palm. I use palm. I've never in the last 5-6 years had anyone ask or make a comment about it. However, I get way more comments regarding lard than I do palm. It's certainly a personal choice. I use both.
 

kchaystack

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I am one of the ones who will use palm oil in my vegan soaps. I also make lard based soaps. Depends on who it is for and what I feel like playing with at the time.

There just is not a good replacement at this time. The alternatives for veggie soaps can require a long cure from all the olive and soft oils, have a lot of butters for hardness that can kill lather, or just never get really hard so don't last as long.

I only buy RSPO certified palm. Is the organization perfect? No it is not. But supporting them while I push them for stricter rules, seems to me to be the best way to help. Of course there is the fact that the US uses a bare 3% (at least as of a year ago when I was researching) of palm produced in the world. Also, if people stopped using palm, what would be the next crop to replace all the stuff it is used in? It would probably be even worse for the environment.

But I am not trying to change anyone's mind. These are the reasons I choose to do what I do. I will keep researching and pushing RSPO to get better.

Just remember when doing your research, consider the source. The palm industry is going to downplay the bad. The environmentalists will emphasize the harm. As in all things, the truth is in the middle somewhere.
 

paillo

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Anyone know of a supplier for RSPO certified sustainable palm oil? Google searches have come up empty. I would happily buy it in bulk, even at higher prices.

ETA: I see Columbus (Soapers Choice) has it. Guess I'll order and swear at the !@#$ bag-in-a-pail.

Well, silly me. Just checked the pail I have, and it is Soapers Choice organic RSPO certified sustainable. Duh. Forget I ever chimed in ;)
 
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shunt2011

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Anyone know of a supplier for RSPO certified sustainable palm oil? Google searches have come up empty. I would happily buy it in bulk, even at higher prices.
Soapers Choice sells it.
 

BWsoaps

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Nothing is wrong with the oil itself though?

It's in a lot of food.
 

cmzaha

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Cibaria also carries it. I am with Kchaystack and was saved typing a long post. I also use palm in all my Vegan soaps, since nothing else makes a decent bar of vegan soap that I would feel good about selling.
According to some of the latest reports our country is still one of the lowest users of palm. Here in our country what we may think is bad may not be for the countries and villages producing palm. What we call "slave conditions" may very well not be for them and feeds their families. What we call "hard work" may not be in their opinion. Not much different from our farm laborers here. Many feel it is wrong that their children many times work in the fields. Well guess what, I have always seen big smiles on their faces. Those children are Not out shooting up schools and out destroying property. They are helping their families make a living. This is not wrong in my opinion.

Sorry not trying to start some long debate, but we cannot change the world unlike we think. It will take changes in their own governments, which probably not happen anytime soon.
So I shall continue using my palm and hopefully someday their governments will wake up and control a little better. Cibaria, my supplier, sells RSPO palm, is it really who knows, but it is the best we can do
 

TeresaT

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Exactly, Carolyn. We can't change the world and make it more like ours. (I wouldn't want to.) Change comes from within; we can't help people that don't want it (or need it). What I call "slave wages" many workers call "wealth beyond imagination." I may change my mind about palm oil in the future. I swore when I first started making soap I wouldn't use FOs or colorants. But after carefully researching and educating myself, I have changed my mind. We all have to do the research and decide for ourselves what we want to do. I have some friends that if you mention palm oil to, they spaz out and go on and on about the orangutans and how the industry is killing those poor defensless creatures "that are almost human." And they buy Crisco. :lol:
 

SplendorSoaps

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I only buy RSPO certified palm. Is the organization perfect? No it is not. But supporting them while I push them for stricter rules, seems to me to be the best way to help.
I second these sentiments in my own soap making. Palm is just one of those staples in my recipes that I haven't found a suitable alternative for yet. I've only been selling my soaps for a little over a year now, but I've never had a question from a customer on palm oil yet. I bet that it will happen at some point, though.
 

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I have looked through every medical journal I can access articles through the internet (I am an RN, and subscribe to quite a few), including the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, and can not locate one single valid scientific or medical source corroborating any tie between fibromyalgia and salicylates. Nor can I locate one source that states that one can absorb salicylates through wash off products. Since I have fibromyalgia, I am quite interested in this subject. Could you possibly provide documentation of this phenomena?
Susie,
25 years ago when my son was diagnosed with a salicylate intolerance and we realised all of us in the family had it to varying degrees. The pediatrician who we first took my son to said it didn't have anything to do with food but luckily referred us to a pediatric allergist who knew all about it and confirmed the diagnosis with exclusion diets etc.

We've been happily going along remaining below our personal thresholds but my sister and I have become increasingly ill as we've been getting older and realise we are less tolerant even to small amounts of salicylates. My brother has none of our symptoms and he consumes and uses no salicylates.

I've done a bit of research and my symptoms are very similar to fibromyalgia but I have not been diagnosed with that. I figured if I cut out salicylates I can see if I get better. There is not much scientific proof that salicylates effect fibromyalgia just as there wasn't 25 years ago for salicylate intolerance. But there is a growing body of evidence from people who suffer from it. I think it is just a matter of personal trial and error. I have a friend who has fibromyalgia and she cut out salicylates and it has made a lot of difference to her. Is it psychosomatic? Not sure. She doesn't care as long as she's better.

You do have to be careful out there in internet land though because there is a lot of information that is just plain wrong. My sister is a doctor and she filters a lot of information for me. Yes salicylates can transfer through your skin. See the first article below.

This is a good place to start:
http://scicurious.scientopia.org/2013/02/22/friday-weird-science-need-more-caffeine-rub-it-in/
http://www.fibromyalgiatreatment.com/books-and-dvds.html
http://www.fibromyalgiatreatment.com/scientific-research-papers.html
http://www.thepaleomom.com/autoimmunity
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/salicylate-allergy

You could also ask your fibromyalgia specialist what he thinks about it.
I wish you the very best of luck with your health.
It is horrible not being 100% healthy.
 
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notapantsday

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I personally don't use palm oil, but I wouldn't blame anyone for using it.

If we didn't want to have a negative impact on the environment, we would have to lower our standards of living by a huge degree and probably stop reproducing so much. But we all like having a warm place to live, diverse food and fresh produce all year round, a car so we can get to work and of course we want to have children and watch the next generation grow up.

Not saying that there's no point in trying to lessen the damage we cause while maintaining our first-world lifestyle, but almost everyone who gets furious over people using palm oil, driving a car or eating meat is a hypocrite.

The one thing I will never understand is that some people prefer a vegan soap with palm oil over one made with lard or tallow for idealistic reasons. Sure, if someone doesn't like the idea of using soap made from animal fat because they don't like meat, there's nothing wrong with that. I would never use soap made from fish oil either because I hate fish (even if it doesn't smell).
But to say that there's anything wrong with using animal fat? In my opinion, it's the best fat to use, because it's a waste product. No pig or cow has died in order to make fat, they die for the meat and most of the fat is just thrown away because we have no use for it. That's a real shame and if I can do anything to reduce this waste, I will. Just like I buy bones, necks and all other kinds of undesired parts to make stock, it's much better than throwing them away.

And that's pretty much the reason why I don't use palm oil. Lard seems to be a good replacement and it leaves me with a better feeling. Nobody's an irresponsible maniac for using palm oil, but at the same time anyone who thinks using vegan soap is "the right thing" is an idiot in my opinion, sorry.
 

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I make vegan soaps because I have friends who are vegan or vegitarian for a variety of reasons. Ethical, and religious. I also have one friend who wants a palm free vegan soap. I make her a bastille, and do not judge why that is what she wants. Because it does not hurt her, or me, or anyone else. And she likes it. I don't see why making her happy is idiotic in that situation.

I make lard based soaps because some people like them even tho I can't tell the difference between lard and palm.
 
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