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Palm kernel substitute?


Craftedinthewoods
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Personally, I'd present it more cut and dried:

Coconut is the only substitute, unless you have some babassu lying around that you want to waste on soap. Coconut and PKO are the same kind of oil.

Lard is a completely different kind of oil than those. If you substitute, you'll get a completely different soap.

Edited by topofmurrayhill
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So if a recipe calls for 15% coconut oil and 15 % Palm kernel what should I do? My understanding from another thread is that more than 15% coconut oil will make a drying soap.

Also, any suggestions as to where I can find palm kernel oil?

In that case you could use 30% of either one. PKO might be a little gentler, but it isn't night and day. The bottom line is that you have 30% lauric oil in the soap. That's the category of oils that CO and PKO belong to. You always substitute oils in the same category.

The idea that coconut oil is a special case isn't really true. For one thing, it's a very subjective experience that some people claim. The other issue that there's no way to generalize about it. 15% CO can contribute to a drying soap in one recipe, but be just fine at 30% in another recipe. You can't predict the properties of soap just from one oil.

Edited by topofmurrayhill
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In that case you could use 30% of either one. PKO might be a little gentler, but it isn't night and day. The bottom line is that you have 30% lauric oil in the soap. That's the category of oils that CO and PKO belong to. You always substitute oils in the same category.

quote]

So I copied this from a site I found after trying to find info on oil categories. Is this what you mean? The oil within each category can replace each other without too much trouble? Can you have too much of any of the oils in soap? (My guess is that it seems up to personal preference?)

  1. Hard, stable, long lasting - (palm oil, beef tallow, lard)
  2. Lathering - (coconut, castor, palm kernel)
  3. Moisturizing/Conditioning - (olive oil, canola, sunflower, soybean)
  4. Luxury/Super Moisturizing - (cocoa butter, shea butter, almond oil, hemp oil, jojoba)

I also printed out the tutorial about how to build a soap recipe. There is a similar listing of oils in that post but using the headings of cleansing, soft oils and hard oils.

If I am way off base here let me know.

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You would be better off forgetting all the stuff you read about luxury and conditioning and moisturizing. That is mythology being passed on from one soapmaker to another, so that we never get anywhere learning about the chemistry of soapmaking and realistic principles of recipe design.

As a very basic guideline to help get you started, you'll want to leave the lye calculator settings at their standard values and use the following categories and amounts of oil:

Lauric oil (up to 30%)

Oleic oil (20-40%)

Palmitic oil (all the rest)

You don't need someone else's recipe. Just make up your own thing based on that guideline, and I promise you'll make great soap. Then experiment with the amounts and you'll learn a lot more than following recipes.

Here's an explanation of the oil categories:

Lauric oils turns into bubbly soap, which is a nice thing. They also turn into soap that cleans very well, so you don't want to overdo it. Lauric oils also harden a soap recipe, but that's not the main reason we use them. The lauric oils are coconut oil and palm kernel oil. No others work better or worse, and those are by far the cheapest and most common.

Palmitic oils turn into long-lasting soap that's firm even before it dries out and stands up to water without melting away. The main examples of palmitic oil are palm oil and animal tallow (including lard). Use whichever you find convenient or economical, or whichever you like the idea of. These oils are the bedrock of soapmaking.

Oleic oils turn into soft soap that doesn't clean or lather well, but can help to balance out a recipe so it's not rock hard. You normally want to include oleic oil to get the desired consistency in your soap and make it easier to use the cold-process method. Olive oil is the most common and popular example of oleic oil. Nothing else inherently works better or worse, but you can choose any oleic oil that's convenient and economical. Just look up an oil's fatty acids in Soapcalc and make sure it's mostly "oleic acid." Avocado oil is another good example.

Linoleic oils don't inherently turn into good soap and the best advice for a beginner is not to use them. They can contribute good qualities when used in small amounts in the right recipe. A good example is soybean oil, along with most types of sunflower and safflower oils. If you want, you can try them in the future at 10% maximum, or you can play with larger amounts of semi-linoleic oils like rice bran oil and canola oil.

Ricinoleic oils basically means castor oil because there aren't any other common ones. I would hold off on that one as a beginner because it will speed up your trace. Plus you never really need castor oil, though it can certainly contribute goodness to some recipes. Castor oil makes the soap more soluble for better lather and is especially handy for any soap that's meant to be transparent. You can try it in the future, ballpark 5%.

Stearic oils turn into hard soap with a gentle creamy lather. Substituting something like 5% stearic oil in place of palmitic oil can have good results. You should try it at some point. Common stearic oils are "butters" like cocoa butter and shea butter, as well as hydrogenated soy flakes (soy wax). Stearic oils are especially useful with palm oil, which has less stearic in its composition than animal fats.

Edited by topofmurrayhill
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THANKS!! What great info, Top. I've printed it out and added it to my collection of vital info.

As a very basic guideline to help get you started, you'll want to leave the lye calculator settings at their standard values and use the following categories and amounts of oil:

I'm not sure what you mean by leaving the lye calc settings at their standard values and use these categories... I've been playing with the mountain sage calc. Am I missing something?

Lauric oil (up to 30%)

Oleic oil (20-40%)

Palmitic oil (all the rest)

You don't need someone else's recipe. Just make up your own thing based on that guideline, and I promise you'll make great soap. Then experiment with the amounts and you'll learn a lot more than following recipes.

Great! I do like the idea of understaning the process. I love your explaination of oil categories. It will really give me somthing to study and apply.

Now it's time to get personal - so in the shower this morning... I used my first bar I milled from a 100% olive oil base. (That was my first ever cp soap - I used olive oil because that is the only oil I had...and I just HAD to try to make soap) I had added powdered milk & honey to that batch. So after using it in the shower my skin felt kind of sticky. That's not quite the best way to describe it, but I don't know how else to say it. When running my hand down my arm my hand kind of stuck, or 'stuttered' across my skin. Does that make sense?

Is that maybe because there was only the oleic oil and nothing else to offer balance to the soap? And just like you said for oleics, I had to rub the dickens out of that bar to get lather... it did lather, it just didn't last very long and I had to keep working it.

My hope is to create a recipe that wont leave that 'sticky' feel behind... and of course not to feel tight & dry after soaping up... and lots of lather of course. I suppose that's everybody's holy grail, isn't it? (The soaps I've used from the store are Dove and Oil of Olay. They have never left me feeling anything negative. )

I really appreciate your time, Top, in answering my questions so thoroughly. I'm dying to try out my own recipe this weekend - but I'm also wanting to read more. Just when I think I've got what I need to try it again, more info comes along to add to the mix!

I feel like I'm getting sucked into a soaping cult... and I love it!!!

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Sorry I wasn't clear. I meant that you can initially leave things like the superfat setting at their default values. Just make up a lauric/palmitic/oleic recipe and plug it in.

What you describe with your olive oil soap is similar to what I've often experienced. I don't know what your extra ingredients contributed, but out of balance soaps can leave an odd skin feel. I'm familiar with the sensation you described.

Olive oil soap is a bit of a fad, but I think it's overrated. You can make soap that's better than Castile in so many ways.

As far as what you want to accomplish in terms of designing a soap, it's totally doable. The information I gave you and 3 or 4 of the main oils I mentioned are totally enough to make a soap like that.

I don't have the ingredients for Dove and Oil of Olay handy, but I think those might be partially detergent bars. Yours will be 100% soap.

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OK - I think I'm on my way. I'm getting some palm kernel flakes shipped to me early next week. Until then, I think I'll try a small batch of somthing based on your info with oils I have. I can't wait!!!

Then I suppose I can try the same thing but substitue some palm kernel in to see what the difference will be.

I know it will have to cure, but I'll come back and report my success (How's that for possative thinking?).

That reminds me... Where and how do you store curing soap bars? Do they have to be open to air flow during the entire cure time? Right now I have some of my milled castile soap on cookie racks in my living room. But I'm not very excited about soap racks sitting around for weeks and weeks. Besides, they'll get dusty!

Any tips on that would be welcome. :confused:

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Actually, cooling racks are kind of a good choice if you can find a place for them to live for a while; the all-around airflow helps the bars dry properly. I'd leave them on a rack for a bare minimum of a month and preferably at least two.

Be careful of steel racks. They aren't generally made of high quality steel, and contact with iron can cause soap to get DOS (dreaded orange spots). You can use racks that are chrome-plated or coated with plastic. I use plastic industrial trays that have slots on the bottom.

You actually can get away with having one edge of the soaps sitting on a solid surface, but put them on parchment or something like that so moisture can still escape--and flip them to the opposite edge now and then.

Edited by topofmurrayhill
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Actually, cooling racks are kind of a good choice if you can find a place for them to live for a while; the all-around airflow helps the bars dry properly. I'd leave them on a rack for a bare minimum of a month and preferably at least two.

2 months!!!??? I better get crackin' if I ever want to use soap. I think I'll do it tomorrow. Yup, that's right. Enough reading & sitting here at the computer... I'm gonna do it... I mean it...

But first I'm going to bed. I stayed up way too late last night reading about soaping!

Good night, fellow cult members.

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Oh no, you can definitely use soaps sooner than that. However, there's no exact point when the bars are "done." Even while you're using the soap, the remainder can be on the curing rack, at least until it's dried out pretty well. You can even put it on the scale week to week and you'll see when the weight bottoms out.

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Be careful of steel racks. They aren't generally made of high quality steel, and contact with iron can cause soap to get DOS (dreaded orange spots). You can use racks that are chrome-plated or coated with plastic. I use plastic industrial trays that have slots on the bottom.

gotta disagree here, Top - for ME, chrome plated is the kiss of death...

plastic works well.

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I have tried the plastic coated racks and my soaps didn't get DOS but they had this nasty old oil odor. I know my oils were good as well as my fo but for some reason they had problems on the racks. Now what I do is when they are curing I use the long boxes that a 12 pack of soda comes in and cut out one side and cover the soap while cooling and when done I cut up soap and turn the box over and place the soap inside lined up and place that on a rack and that has worked for me. I don't trust anything metal.

Top...so you say Babassu is a good sub for PKO? I didn't know that, I love my Babassu and I use it in every batch I make.

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I use a shelving unit that we purchased from either Lowes, Home Depot or one of those type stores. Its been so long I don't remember exactly where. It has a metal frame but the shelves are like a wood type material. I cure all my soaps on it. When its new soap, I make sure to turn them daily while they cure to allow air to get to each side. I've had this shelf for years and my soaps have never been prone to DOS.

I don't believe that olive oil (castile) soaps are a fad. If so, this fad has been going since like the 15th or 16th century. If given the proper cure time, which for a castile and some bastile soaps, is at the very least, should be 3 months better 6, castile soaps can be very mild. Yes, you can get a mild soap with other recipes and you can add ingredients to a soap with a high OO content to help alleviate some of the issues that do come with a castile soap. It really comes down to whether you like a castile soap or not. But I find that the longer the cure, the better a castile soap gets. I have one on my shelf that I made back in 2008. I recently used one of the bars for the first time and I found I liked it more than I usually do.

I love Babassu oil in my soaps In fact I use it in one of my main recipes. Its also great used in salt bars. I find its boosts my lather and when used together with CO, it can create a harder bar, with great lather that isn't drying as CO can be at certain %'s for some people. I also don't have to superfat past where I like my soaps either. I've done a 100% CO bar that I superfatted and while it was not the least bit drying, I found that it used up pretty quickly. So for me, that's why I don't like to superfat with a high CO content.

Since both Babassu oil and PKO help create a harder bar and boost lather, I've always viewed them as subs for each other taking into account lye amounts. Babassu is a bit pricey though - I think its worth it. I really think for the most part you should never discount the use of any oil or butter because used in the right formula, it could possibly make for a wonderful bar of soap. :)

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All three -- coconut, PKO and babassu are primarily lauric oils.

All three are hard fats that contribute to lather as well as make a harder bar and are supposed to lend to lathering well in all types of water.

Babassu and coconut have similar properties and PKO is closely related. Why wouldn't they make good substitutes?

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Top...so you say Babassu is a good sub for PKO? I didn't know that, I love my Babassu and I use it in every batch I make.

Coconut, PKO and babassu can all be substituted for each other. PKO comes out a little harder if you use the hydrogenated flakes, but basically they're all the same kind of oil.

There's nothing you can make with babassu that you can't duplicate using coconut oil with a little recipe tweak. They're almost the same, so there's no real reason to pay so much extra.

Edited by topofmurrayhill
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