Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Going Green with Palm-Free Soap

(Pic courtesy of Whitebox)

About a month ago, I made a conscious decision to begin making palm-free soaps. That means no palm oil or no palm kernel oil. Why is that you may ask? Well, I've been really re-evaluating how I can personally make a contribution to going and staying green. It's been a personal struggle for me because I've never been conscious of my wasteful habits before now. I recently read that the deforestation of peatlands and rainforests to make room for palm oil plantations have contributed to environmental degradation and significant greenhouse gas emissions. In plain speak, the plantation of palm oil is messing with the Earth's atmosphere and temperature. You may think to yourself that this is so petty, why even go there, but I feel passionately about making a difference in some small way. With that being said, I've been looking for substitute palm oil recipes.

Palm oil's main benefit is to soothe and moisturize dry skin. It's solid at room temperature and contributes to the bar's hardness. Palm kernel oil's benefit is also to make the bar of soap hard, but it also produces big, fluffy bubbles. Coconut and palm kernel oil has very similar properties so that's one substitute right there. Palm oil is one of the "Big 3" of soap making along with coconut and olive oils. The rule of thumb for the "perfect bar" of soap is to condition, lather, and be hard. The harder your bar, the longer the soap will last (coupled with proper drainage after each use.) Since I've started making soap, I've been preconditioned (through my various readings) to believe that palm oil is a must for making soap. To that I say "Bullsh*t!!! I found a couple of really good recipes courtesy of Gracefruit that do not use or require palm oil to satisfy the Big 3. One of my main substitutions is going to be cocoa butter. I can't get enough of it!
Just a heads up that I won't have many posts this week because I'm going to be on a soaping rampage. I haven't made soap in over a month, and I finally ordered some supplies from Columbus Foods that are arriving today! I plan to make at least 5 batches of soap by Friday. Of course I'll post pics next week. Until then....


Laura said...

Good for you!! It is hard to change and do things greener. (it is even harder to change those who live with you and wont use the recycle can ...grrr)
i am a huge lover of cocoa butter. Have fun soaping!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting read. I really did not know palm is not the "Green" thing and that's what I'm inspired to becoming more as I grow in my craft. I'm glad I have tons of cocoa butter, I'll be using that as my substitute. Thanks for the info. :)

Patrice @ The Soap Seduction said...

Follow up:

I've since learned that Columbus Foods, one of the biggest suppliers of bulk soap making oils, obtains their oils from sustainable resources. If you love palm oil in your soap recipes, Columbus Foods is a safe, green choice!

Thanks to Joanna at Product Body for doing the research!