Our Soap Ingredients: Oils and Fats

Organic Fair-Trade Coconut Oil

Our coconut oil is sourced from small-scale farmers in the Philippines who farm an average of 20 acres each. The farmers cultivate up to 60 coconut trees per acre, and many also grow legumes, bananas, mangos or other small fruit trees beneath the coconuts. Harvesting takes place year round and is done by hand with a long-handled knife. The discarded husks are used directly as compost or as fuel for the coconut processing facility, from which the ash is returned to fertilize the soil. The Fair-Trade practices provide a better price to farmers compared to prices paid for conventional coconut, and the farmers are provided access to health care and higher education assistance for their children.

About 90% of the fatty acid content in coconut oil is saturated, and it is solid at up to about 76°F (24°C). Coconut oil has traditionally been used to moisturize skin and ease topical inflammation and superficial injuries. In soap, coconut oil provides bubbly lather and adds to the hardness of the bar. Lauric acid is the dominant fatty acid in coconut oil (~50%), followed by myristic (~18%), palmitic (~9%), oleic, caprylic and capric (~7% each). Lauric acid has antimicrobial properties and can be useful for treating acne and other skin conditions. We “superfat” our soap, meaning we leave free oil in the soap to provide the skin benefits of these fatty acids.

Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Tunisia, Africa’s northernmost country, is the source of our organic extra-virgin olive oil. The olives are hand-picked and are processed on the day they’re picked. According to the International Olive Council, over 60% of Tunisia’s agricultural workers are involved in olive growing and processing. Most olive plantations in Tunisia are rain-fed, and olives represent 40% of Tunisia’s organic agriculture.

Olive oil is an unsaturated fat dominated by oleic acid (~70%), with linoleic and palmitic acids comprising most of the remaining 30%. Up to 5% of olive oil consists of phenolic and other “unsaponifiable” compounds. These compounds remain free in soap and have strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Olive oil has been used for millennia to moisturize and condition skin and hair, and it helps make our soaps deliciously moisturizing.

Rice Bran Oil

Our rice bran oil comes from Thailand. Thailand’s economy depends on agricultural exports, and rice is a major crop grown country-wide. According to the FAO, almost 80% of rice in Thailand is grown in rain-fed lowland areas. This wetland plant can be intercropped with mung beans, corn or groundnuts. The majority of rice grown in Thailand is not irrigated; if climate changes lead to drought in Southeast Asia, rice production could be significantly affected. Despite the intensive management of rice ecosystems, these flooded areas can provide important habitat and support for biodiversity.

Rice bran oil contains about 40% oleic acid, 33% linoleic acid, and 20% palmitic acid. It also contains oryzanol, which is a mixture of plant compounds that have antioxidant effects. Rice bran oil helps make our soaps rich and moisturizing, and the palmitic acid content contributes to the hardness of the soap. The unsaponifiable fraction of rice bran oil contains up to ~50% squalene. Squalene is a natural component of our skin lipids and has moisturizing and antimicrobial properties. It’s a potent antioxidant that helps protect skin from sun damage.

Mango Seed Butter

Mango trees grow in subtropical and tropical regions worldwide. The fruit, leaves and pits are edible, although the pits are extremely bitter and are considered a famine food.  Mango butter is extracted from the dried, de-shelled seeds (pits) of the mango fruit. It is solid at room temperature and melts at about 95°F (35°C).

Mango butter is similar in composition to shea butter. We like it because it’s super moisturizing and makes use of a byproduct. Mango butter consists of about 40% stearic acid and 7% palmitic acids (saturated fatty acids), and about 45% oleic acid (unsaturated). The stearic acid contributes to the hardness of the soap and to its creamy, moisturizing properties.