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by Fiona McBryde August 06, 2018

Right at the heart of our soap is a generous glug of organic olive oil. Recent poor olive harvests have led to spiralling costs and the oil has become less popular in favour of cheaper ingredients like coconut oil and palm oil.  For Soap Folk though, it’s our single favourite oil and the one we could never give up.

The benefits of Olive Oil in Soap

Olive oil makes a hard, long lasting soap with a gentle cleansing lather, suitable for sensitive skins. High in Oleic acid, a soap made with olive oil will help to condition and soften your skin.

It’s one of the only oils which can be used as the single ingredient in soap. We call this type of soap made with 100% olive oil a Castille bar. It’s a labour of love to make as it needs several months to fully cure but it does create a beautifully gentle bar. It takes a little getting used to, as there is almost no lather, but converts often find it hard to go back to any other kind of soap.

For our core collection of organic body soaps, we blend our olive oil with other oils and butters, each one bringing a slightly different property to create a balanced bar, with a rich creamy lather that cleanses without drying.

Good for you, good for the planet

Olive oil production gives back to the environment more than it takes. Well managed olive groves increase landscape and habitat diversity and protects the soil against erosion and desertification.  

It’s been described as liquid gold helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using the right farming techniques, olive orchards can be a CO2 sink.

With controversies surrounding palm and soya oil production, it’s important to us that we can support an industry that has the potential to improve our planet.

Why organic olive oil matters

We use a cold pressed, unrefined organic olive oil. Cold pressed means that no heat is used during the processing so that the oil retains more of its natural antioxidants. We think of it as an oil in its truest form.

In spite of the superior quality of organic olive oil, many soap makers use Pomace oil, a derivative of the olive industry. Pomace oil is made from from the pulp and waste of the olives after the first press is done creating Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The advantage of pomace over extra virgin olive oil (other than cost) is that it’s an easier oil to work with; pale in colour and light in scent, it can create a good base for a wide range of soap colours.

We prefer not use pomace oil. The process of extracting pomace needs chemical solvents, such as Hexane, and extremely high heat. From an environmental impact, this heavily refined method doesn’t sit so well with us. By contrast, choosing certified organic olive oil means we can be confident that it has been produced in the most sustainable and environmentally sound way - and is the best for your skin.

Extra virgin olive oil brings its own set of challenges. As an unrefined oil, it can vary in scent and colour from batch to batch. We find this can affect the length of time a soap can take to cure, and the final colour of the soap. If you like your soaps to look identical, then one made from organic olive oil is not the one for you. However, if you are looking for a soap that feels wonderful on your skin, and has been made with the least impact on our natural world, then we think you’ve come to the right place.

Fiona McBryde
Fiona McBryde

Founder. Soap maker. Never finishes a cup of tea.

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