As some of you will remember, I hosted a a brief survey on favorite base oils earlier this month on soapnuts. I want to thank you all for helping me out by answering this survey!  

Since I'm still learning about oils, and with all our new soapers, I thought it might be nice for them to see what are the most common oils used and to give them some reasons for using them.  

Here are the survey results: 

Olive oil:over half of you picked olive oil as your favorite, for its easy access, gentleness, versitility (including eating--but I recommend doing this before its made into soap!), and moisturising qualities. 

Coconut oil:about 1/5 of you picked this one for its hard white bar and lathering qualities. One person likes it because it didn't dry her skin out! 

Palm:because it is easy to work with 

Castor oil:adds a great lather and richness to the soap 

And now we have our sunflower oil person (too bad I promised "no name!") who likes this because it's her favorite flower! 

The favorite exotic butters/oils were: 

Shea butter: over half of you picked this one because it is moisturizing, and a great emollient 

Cocoa butter: about 1/5 picked this one for its fragrance and fragrance blending qualities, the feeling in the soap and lotions, and versitility 

Emu oil:great benefits in more than just soap; burns (I can attest to that one), bed sores, arthritis, etc...   

Jojoba oil:silky lather and gentle to the skin 

Avocado:moisturizing and full of protiens and vitamins 

Kukui:great for shampoo bars 
It was funny that I had a couple or respondants who just couldn't decide on which butter/oil they liked the best and they also choose the same two--shea butter and emu oil! 
Now a little lesson on the oils: 
The majority of oils that you buy in the grocery store are refined oils that may contain solvents and petroleum residue. Unprocessed oils are the best for skin care preparations. Most oils have a shelf life of six months if kept prpoerly stored. This is usually by keeping oils in a cool place and in dark containers. According to Valerie Cooksley It wouldn't be a bad idea to add 2% of vitamin E or 10% evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil, or jojoba before storing. This helps to prolong the shelf life of your oils. Some oils that aren't well known are Kukui--it is cold pressed and has been used for hundreds of years in Hawaii as a non greasy oil for sunburn and chapped skin. It has also been found to help with acne, aczema, psoriases. This oil only takes 1 2/3 TBSP for a five pound batch of soap to start adding richness to your soap. 
Avocado oil:This is an extordinary oil with it's healing and moisturizind qualities. It contains vitamins A, D, and E, proteins, and amino acids. It also has a high percentage of unsaponifiables. 
Macadamia nut oil:This is also cold pressed. Studies have found this oil to be a possible antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from deterioration. This oil has a longer shelf life then most oils. It is easily absorbed into the skin and makes a stable, luxurious bar of soap. 

  • Fischer-Rizzi, Susanna, Peter Ebenhoch, and Gunter Hartmann. Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Sterling, 1991.
  • Cooksley, Valerie Gennari. Aromatherapy. Prentice Hall, 1996.
  • Cavitch, Susan Miller. The Soapmaker's Companion. Storey, 1997.

SoapNuts is published monthly.
Editor: Courtney Danforth
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