|Adding exotic and luxurious
ingredients is part of the magic of handcrafting "one of a kind" specialty
soaps. We're seeking that ultimate bathing/washing experience--great smell,
great feel, and clean, happy skin! Emu oil is discussed frequently as one
of those unique ingredients that makes soaps extra special. So,
"what's the big deal with emu oil?" you might
ask (if you've never tried it!).
A Vogue Magazine article in September,
1996*, said this about emu oil: "...emu oil is
emerging as the world's next cosmetic rage. 'I think it will be another
aloe vera,' says Mark Potter chemist at Donna Karan Beauty Company, the
first American group to use the ingredient in commercial beauty products.
'It's really the ideal oil.'
Non-comedogenic and an anti-irritant, emu
oil is touted as a powerful moisturizer that penetrates deeply into the
skin. 'We believe emu oil's fatty acids actually mirror what's found in
the skin's top layer, so it readily accepts the oil' says John Caputo,
chairman and CEO of New World Technology, which produces emu oil under
the name Kalaya Oil. Studies done at Boston University have shown that
emu oil may actually stimulate skin-cell regeneration and help to reduce
wrinkles and sagging. The emu craze is spreading beyond cosmetics as die-hard
fans claim the oil takes care of everything from eczema to burns to join
pain--telltale signs of a household name in the making."
For cosmetic use emu oil has many beneficial
Several companies, including Donna Karan and
JC Penney, include emu oil in a variety of cosmetic products--lotions,
creams, anti-aging products, shampoos, conditioners--and of course, soap!
very emollient, rich moisturizer
penetrating (making it a good transdermal
carrier for other ingredients)
non-comedogenic (doesn't clog pores)
non-irritating and hypo-allergenic (very few
helps restore skin cells (both skin and hair
cells appear to be stimulated by emu oil)
emulsifies easily with other ingredients
rich in essential fatty acids
For therapeutic use, topically applied
emu oil appears to have anti-inflammatory properties, so it is used to
relieve such conditions as arthritis, muscle strain, joint pain, sprains,
bruises, etc.. Because of its apparent ability to help skin cells to restore,
many people use the oil on chronic skin and scalp conditions.
Mark Potter is president of Atlantis Labs
and Stephen Marcus Manufacturing,companies
that make a variety of products with emu oil. He reports, "We choose
emu oil for the main ingredient in our products because the oilfeeds
the skin as a nutritional supplement, and
therefore helps it to rejuvenate.Our
tests have shown that emu oil provides the skin with essential fattyacids
which help the skin respond to healing."
Texas Tech University School of Medicine
an emu oil study, with excellent results,
using emu oil on burn patients. Pain
relief, reduced inflammation, reduced
scarring, and improved healing are
what they report. They are so pleased with the results
they have extended the study for another year.
Emu oil is proving very beneficial for
use on the elderly, helping with thinning
skin, bed sores, and arthritis. Massage
therapists and chiropractors use emu oil, reporting it seems to help their
adjustments last longer. Sports trainers
use emu oil on professional players'
injuries to reduce inflammation and
pain. Veterinarians report successful wound and trauma
treatment with emu oil, and use it as a carrier for
topically applied ingredients.
Houston dermatologist, Esta Kronberg, prescribes
oil for many of her patients' conditions.
She says, "A lot of times an emu oil
product is my first choice, even though
I can choose any prescription that I wish, and
the irony is the emu oil works so well."
Alabama Pharmacist Alan Strickland has
emu oil formulations. He tells us, "When
formulating with emu oil keep in mind
that the oil by itself is value one,
and when you put it with other active ingredients,
the value increases to not two, but four. Pharmacists
call that a synergistic effect. It works. Choose
any (OTC) product on the market, and I can take that
same exact formula and add emu oil to it. The product
ingredients, with emu oil added, often work better,
which I've proven over and over again."
There is a list of over 100 conditions
for which people successfully use emu
oil--from arthritis to diaper rash
to hemorrhoids to shingles. A large number of commercial
and home made therapeutic products incorporate
emu oil into their formulations.
So how does emu oil work in soap?
Our soap customers, as well as soap makers
who use emu oil, comment that soap
with emu oil has a creamy rich feel,
and leaves the skin feeling very smooth, soft and
As a soap component, emu oil adds hardness
and stable lathering. Although it's
hard to validate, we think the oil's
emollient properties enhance the finished soap
product. Any amount can be used in soap (100% makes
a hard white bar, with mild creamy lather), but because
it is a more costly oil it is perhaps best added
as a luxury super-fatting agent. Using 2-3% of the
fats as emu oil, would enhance almost any existing soap
recipe. For even more luxury and benefits, adding emu
oil as 10-20% of the total oils makes exceptional bar
of soap. More than 25% emu oil is not necessary, in
Emu oil incorporates easily into soap blends,
adding no unusual behavior to the soap
making process. Physically, emu oil
appears creamy white/off-white, and
is semi-liquid (pourable) at room temperature. At higher
temps it melts to a clear oil, and at cooler temperatures
it solidifies. Properly processed, emu oil
is shelf stable for several months, especially longer
if kept cool, with minimum exposure to air, heat,
and water (which ultimately degrade all organic oils).
Soap Making Properties of Emu Oil**
SAP VALUE: 180-200 (to be safe use
190-195, which converts to 0.139 on
some popular soap making calculator
Many soap crafters also add emu oil as a luxury
emollient to melt and pour soaps. We have not experimented with this, but
hear that it works well by adding 1/2
oz. to 1 oz. emu oil to the melted soap before molding, and
blending it in well. Success may depend on the formulation of the particular
soap base that you use. Try it out
with a small test batch first.
How to select emu oil
For incorporating emu oil into toiletries
and things like balms, salves, and
creams, please use only a top grade
fully refined or "finished" oil. You want the purest,
cleanest oil possible for any topical use, including
applying it "neat". Be sure your supplier complies
with American Emu Oil standards for processing
the oil, and uses proven gentle methods that
preserve the oil's activity.
Fatty Acid Composition of EMU OIL:
OLEIC 45-50% ~ Contributes to cleansing &
PALMITIC 22-25% ~ Contributes hard bar, stable
STEARIC 8-10% ~ Contributes to hard bar, stable
lather LINOLEIC 6-10% ~ Contributes
to cleansing, conditioning
Less than 5% Free Fatty Acids
Iodine Value 50-80. A low iodine value = harder
soap (for example coconut oil = 10.4;
beef tallow = 50; Kukui nut = 165)
It's possible to use lesser grade "crude"
oils in soaps because the saponification
process will kill any possible residual
bacteria. In either case, it's wise to
know your emu oil vendor and get product that is trusted.
When in doubt purchase a small sample to test before
making any larger investment. Even crude oils can
vary a lot in quality, some having an unpleasant odor,
and very short shelf life.
Where does emu oil come from?
The aboriginal people in Australia have used
oil from the emu for thousands of years
to treat many ailments, and heal and
condition their skin. Emu, native to Australia,
are large prehistoric looking flightless birds
(cousins to the ostrich). They are actually evolutionary
survivors from the dinosaur age! Emu have been
raised domestically, in the U.S. and elsewhere, since
the 1980's, primarily for meat, and the oil which
is rendered from the bird's fat. Emu is a healthy
alternative red meat, very low in cholesterol and
fat (less than 2 grams per 3.5 oz. serving), and is
high in iron and protein. Many ranches and farms in the
US now raise emu as an alternative livestock, hoping
to stimulate a healthier family farm economy. Several
emu can be raised on small acreage in a sustainable
manner with minimal impact on the land.
"Beauty Phenomenon." Vogue (Sept. 1996): 550.
of various components are
identified from books by Susan Miller
Soapmaker's Companion, and The
Natural Soap Book.
About the author
Deena Gentle makes soap and
raises emu on a small farm in the hidden
valley region of SW Wisconsin. Deena and her
husband Avery moved to their 50 acres of hilly pastures
and woods five years ago, to begin *life after
50*, and soon found themselves immersed in the new
frontier of raising emu. As a way to introduce family
and friends to emu oil, Deena began making soap for
gifts and personal use. She found help and support for
her new "hobby" on the Internet, through hand crafted
soap mailing lists, and by visiting websites. With
lots of practice, the soap got improved, and demand
increased for Gentle Emu Oil Soap, as well as Gentle
Emu Oil. A business making soap began to emerge.
Deena attended the first national Small Soap Makers Gathering
in 1997 at Barbara Bobo's Woodspirits soapworks
and farm, and came home even more enthusiastic
about her growing soap business. Deena appreciates
the generous spirit of sharing resources and
networking among the soap makers she's met, and was
pleased to become a charter member in the Handcrafted
Soap Makers Guild in 1998.
More in depth information
on the benefits and uses of
emu oil - including recipes
- can be found at Gentle's