Can you use palm oil shortening in soap making?

Palm oil shortening is one of the most popular fats used in soap-making because it’s cheap and easy to use. But there are some things that you should know before using palm oil shortening in your soaps.

Palm shortening can be used in soap making, in fact in some cases it may be the better option. You may need to stir it pretty well with the rest of the mixture if it shows signs of separation. It is also important to note that you’ll need to use a different amount of lye if you’re using palm oil shortening.

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The question of using palm oil shortening comes up fairly often among soap makers who are trying out new recipes or want to experiment with different oils and fats.

Palm oil is not the same as shortening, but it can be used in place of soybean or coconut oils when making soap. 

However, just like with any oil or fat, when you substitute palm oil for any other type of vegetable fat that occurs naturally, there are some essential things to note.

Can you use palm oil shortening in soap making?

Palm oil shortening has been proven to be safe for soap making, with some people stating that it is even better than regular palm. If you plan on using the product in your batch of soaps, please make sure that you stir it pretty well with the rest of the mixture if it persists in showing signs of separation.

But in most cases, this should not happen, as palm shortening is also known as homogenized palm, and due to this process, it has been made more fluid for easier blending into other ingredients.

Now, please beware of using products with a similar name or “structure” as they will not be able to deliver the same results as palm oil shortening would. They may end up shortening your soap’s useful life.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to use a different amount of lye if you’re using palm oil shortening instead of regular palm oil. This is because palm oil shortening doesn’t have the same SAP value as palm oil.

Is palm oil the same as shortening?

Some people use palm shortening and palm oil as interchangeable terms, but the truth is that they are different from each other.

We can say that palm shortening is a byproduct of palm oil, as it is a semisolid fat made from the latter substance. However, the main difference between both options is that palm shortening has a more solid texture due to the absence of certain unsaturated fats. As a result, this gives you a stabler, thicker consistency.

Palm shortening is also known as homogenized palm. Unlike palm oil, it needs to be processed to acquire its characteristic texture, so it doesn’t separate. Sometimes, manufacturers add antioxidants or emulsifiers to the mix.

It’s also worth noting that although palm shortening is rich in saturated fatty acids, it doesn’t contain any trans fats. 

Contrary to palm shortening, palm oil has a semi-soft texture and quickly becomes liquid after heating it. It is also rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and holds a few fat-soluble vitamins.

Is palm oil good for soap making?

Palm oil is one of the most used oils in soap making. In recent years, it has been a top option for many soap makers worldwide due to the excellent results you can achieve when using this product as your base and the additive combination with other ingredients.

This is thanks to its high content in palmitic acid, which contributes to the soap’s hardening considerably. It also adds more useful life to your soap batch. However, if you’re planning on using different quick-tracing oils in the same recipe, you should do this with caution. Most people use approximately 40% of palm oil in their soap recipes.

With that being said, you should know that palm oil-based soaps have an incredibly stable and conditioning lather. 

NOTE: If you’re going to use palm oil for your soap recipe, please stir it thoroughly while cooling. Palm oil contains stearic acid; so, it is recommended to stir it thoroughly to ensure that this component has blended in pretty well with the whole oil.

Extra information regarding palm oil in soap making

You should also know that you will find two different types of palm oil. Essentially, they have the same structure but add a different texture and appearance to your soap.

  • First, you can find African Palm Oil, also known as unrefined palm oil. This presentation is orange, and based on the total percentage you use, you may get soap from different colors ranging from butter yellow to orange shades.
  • You can also opt for using refined palm oil, also known as “Refined, Bleach and Deodorized” or RBD. Refined palm oil has a white, creamy color.

Despite the color differences, none of the presentations of palm oil have a strong odor. However, please note that both options have the same structure and often leave a greasy film behind.

Is palm shortening good for soap making?

Palm shortening is excellent for soap making. It will deliver you the same results as regular palm oil. Therefore, you can replace one with the other if you feel like experimenting a bit with your recipes.

However, please note that palm shortening is not the same substance as palm oil, even if it’s derived from it. Therefore, you may have to use a different lye quantity that matches the saponification value. Remember that all the different ingredients you use in your recipe need to go through the saponification process for it to become usable soap. If not, you may end up having an unsuccessful soap batch.

You can find tons of calculators to help you determine the SAP value of palm shortening. They will also tell you how much lye you should use based on the amount of soap you’re making.

Things to look out for when using palm oil shortening

If you want to use palm oil shortening in your soap-making recipe, there are a few things you should look out for, especially when it comes to the structure of this substance.

Palm oil and palm shortening have the same chemical composition. The main difference between both substances is that the latter has been homogenized. Therefore, all the fatty acids present in its structure are well-blended with each other, giving a more stable substance.

There aren’t too many contraindications related to the usage of palm oil shortening in soap making. However, it is essential to know that high-saturated oils are associated with heart disease. Since palm shortening doesn’t contain trans fats (and if it does, there will be a minimal quantity present), it is less risky to use. However, this problem only becomes present if you intend to use it for baking. It is 100% safe to use in soaps or candles.

Alternatives to palm shortening

If for some reason, you can’t use palm shortening at the moment, there are a few products you can use instead of it for your soap recipe.

  • Coconut oil – Coconut oil has a semisolid texture. It feels pretty similar to palm oil shortening. Furthermore, its properties make it one of the safest choices in baking goods, cooking recipes, or even cosmetics. Still, please note that coconut oil will always add a mildly sweet flavor to the soap.
  • Vegetable oils – Vegetable oils are another good alternative to palm shortening, especially if you’re a vegetarian or would like to have a “healthier” option. In that case, you have tons of options, such as olive oil and canola oil. Please, remember to reformulate your products and adjust your formula accordingly. Vegetable oils are also a good option for people with allergies.
  • Margarine or butter – Both of these products have a similar consistency, but margarine doesn’t contain dairy fats. Both products will give a soft texture to your soap. Like the other options, it is essential to adjust your recipe based on the butter or margarine quantity you’ll use.


In summary, palm oil shortening is a good ingredient for soap. It will add a pleasant creamy texture to your soaps, and the best part is its affordability. However, if it’s not available, you can always opt for one of its alternatives.

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