palm oil

Palm Kernel Oil and Palm oil soap benefits include being a harder bar with more bubbles and creamy texture.  In my early soap making days, I used palm kernel oil with olive and coconut oils. Over the years I have tried other recipe blends such as:

  • olive, coconut and palm or palm kernel
  • olive, canola, coconut and palm or palm kernel
  • canola, coconut and palm kernel.


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Palm oil, aka Red Palm oil, with the palm fruit.

During my years making soap, some of the oils varied in their amounts, some were eliminated, but the entire time, I never stopped using coconut for those light and fluffy bubbles.

I stopped using Palm Kernel because it was getting more difficult to acquire through the restaurant supply company that I ordered through. Palm and Palm Kernel oils were becoming a non-food item due to their high saturated fat levels and bad reputation relating to bio-fuels. I did still manage to obtain Palm oil, and used this with my regular olive/canola/coconut soap base.

Both of these oil varieties come from the African oil palm, with palm oil from the fruit pulp (being the orange section), and palm kernel coming from the kernel of the fruit (the white inner section).

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This is what the palm oil will look like from the soap supply company.

Palm oil soap benefits, and the differences:

Palm Oil:
Known for creating a long lasting and hard bar with small bubbles and a creamy texture. Helps to speed trace as well. Yet if you made soap with only palm oil, it may be brittle and crumble. Whereas coconut oil makes larger bubbles, it can be skin drying in larger amounts. Palm oil will make a harder bar because it is less soluble in water, unlike coconut oil. Palm oil contains very little natural glycerin, so although it makes nice bubbles, it is not considered a moisturizing type of oil. The Palm oil I bought usually came in 40 lb pails, although it does come in smaller 5 lb pails, and in smaller ziplock bags. Before processing, Palm oil has an orange tint to from the fruit, usually the palm you will buy for soap will be processed and will be an ivory color with a consistently similar to coconut oil, like the image above.

Palm Kernel Oil:
From the same oil palm as palm oil, but from the kernel of the fruit. This oil is much harder and I would get it in 40 pound lined boxes. It would be too hard to spoon out, so I would have to chip it into pieces first. Palm Kernel oil produces a hard bar that can lather will in all types of water. Again, like other tropical oils, this oil can be drying when used in large quantities, so most soap makers don’t exceed 30 percent, I used it at 10 percent. This oils qualities also include being cleansing and helping a quicker trace.

If you can’t find palm kernel, or palm, easily, then as long as you have olive (maybe some canola) and coconut oil, you will have some very nice soaps.


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Some rebels still use palm oil to make awesome soap!

My favorite soap recipe was one that included palm oil soap benefits, that recipe here.

National Geographic has a great article on the mostly pro’s and some con’s of the palm oil business and bio-fuels.

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