Olive Oil in Soap? Yes, please!
As a reminder from our blog What is soap anyway, soap is made with fats and oils mixed with a lye solution, in a nutshell. That’s why soap making can be fun as you get to choose the oils or butters and test what works best for skin (as well as scents and colors, if you like). Olive oil seems to be one of the staple items in each recipe, just as coconut oil seems to be.
We use olive oil today for cooking or as a salad dressing, however, other common uses include pharmaceuticals, oil lamps and yes, even soap! Olive oil has been used in soapmaking for over a century. The B.J. Johnson Company in Milwaukee, WI introduced a soap in 1898 made with palm and olive oils, which became better known as “Palmolive”. In fact, in ancient times, Cleopatra used to take olive oil baths for her skincare. So, it’s no wonder that soap makers in the current day use olive oil in their natural soaps.
While there are many grades of olive oil – some refined by solvents, heat or chemical processes, Extra Virgin olive oil is obtained by the first press of the olives, without any solvents and before any refining. This is the freshest, healthiest grade, most often used in cooking due to its distinctive flavor and aroma. EVOO, being the unrefined oil, is the fruitiest and finest of all oil grades, and also the most expensive! Other grades of olive oil need to be refined include virgin, refined, blends or pomace olive oils. We will focus on the EVOO grade of olive oil for our soap-making as it’s the vegan and gluten-free option and being chock full of antioxidants like vitamins A & E help with regeneration of skin cells, brighten skin and offer some protection against UV rays!
Every oil on Earth has a specific fatty acid profile. There are a number of characteristics of each oil that may be higher, lower or may be zero. For example, olive oil is high in oleic & linoleic acid (Omega-6) which is responsible for the conditioning properties of olive oil, making it a great choice for skin care. It also contains palmitic acid, which helps make a rock-hard bar of soap. Some even use olive oil as part of their hair care routine! Other fatty acid characteristics give different oils different properties such as coconut oil gives soap lather and fluffy bubbles and high cleansing while palm oil offers a hard bar with a stable lather. A balance of the fatty acids has been the holy grail of soap making where each soap maker strives for the best combination to suit their needs and that of their customers.
Since EVOO is the least refined and holds the most vitamins, we choose to use this grade of olive oil in every bar of soap we produce at COXISTENCE SOAPS. While it’s possible to make a 100% olive oil soap, called a castile soap (an all-vegetable oil soap), the bar would be great for babies or elders where the skin requires additional moisturization but it would hinder the lather, giving almost no bubbles. For this reason, many soap makers use rates usually 25%-80% or more of the recipes for bar soap. It’s no wonder that olive oil is used as a base ingredient in natural soaps with its moisturizing properties!
Try one of our soap bars, all made with olive oil!