Olive oil is great for cooking but did you know it also has many benefits when
used as a base oil in homemade soaps? The olive oil in soap helps the skin to
retain moisture and is great for sensitive or mild skin.
Olive oil is a fruit oil made from tree ripened olives. The oil comes via cold pressing the olives. Each pressing of the olives creates different grades of the oil. The first pressing is where we get the extra virgin or virgin oils, the best quality for cooking. A second pressing will yield “grade A” oil, a lower grade due to the presence of free fatty acids. After these pressing a solvent, called hexane, is used to remove any remaining oil that is considered “grade B”. This is a lower grade and has even more free fatty acids. The lowest grade of olive oil is called pomace which is the oils that come from the pits of the olive.
Olive oil was one of the first vegetable oils to be used in soaps. Soaps made
with 100% olive oil are called castile soaps. They tend to produce a soft soap
but will harded nicely over times but they have low lathering ability. Other oils are added to soap recipes to create the lathering suds. Palm oil is added to help harden the bars, while coconut helps to harden and to create the bubbles, and canola oil may be added for a creamier soap.
Extra virgin is best for cooking especially due to the cost of the oil. Usually the lower grades are used most often for soap making and preferred by soapers as it will bring the soap to trace quicker. Additionally, the lower grades are likely more beneficial as more molecules won’t go through the saponification process allowing the beneficial properties of the oil access to your skin. All labels must be read carefully as cheaper oils are being added to decrease the costs in manufacturing.
So what are the benefits of olive oil? Olive oil is rich in vitamins A & E and beta carotene. It is considered to be an antioxidant, containing hydroxytyrosol that provides an anti-inflammatory effect. Olive oil contains oleocanthal, known as an anti-aging and anti-inflammatory agent. It is said to stimulate new cell growth which promotes healthy skin, and may slow down the progression of wrinkles due to pollution, smoke, and sun. It is also non-greasy so will not clog pores and moisturizing.
The above reasons may explain the high use of olive oil in salves and balms as well as being used in so many soap recipes. Now, I cannot say that all these benefits are actually found in our soaps but I do like the how the soap turns out when I do use it!
Note: Info is for educational purposes only. Be sure to do your own research to find out more about Olive oil!