Oil Comparison: Olive, Rice Bran, or Sunflower Oil?

If you haven’t noticed the cost of olive oil is going up.  Every time I go to the store it seems the price has increased.  Olive oil makes up about 40% of my oils in most of my recipes–so the price increase IS affecting my costs significantly.

I’ve been researching oils and trying to figure out my best option for alleviating some of the cost increase from olive oil.  The question: How can I use less olive oil and still get the same properties in my bar of soap.  This includes: lather, conditioning, moisturizing properties as well as shelf life.  My options are:

  • Olive Oil Refined
  • Olive Oil Pomace
  • Rice Bran Oil
  • High-Oleic Sunflower Oil

I pulled out my latest oil spec sheets from the last batch of oils I bought and did a comparison:

Oil Comparison
Palmitic Stearic Oleic Linoleic Shelf Life
Olive Oil Refined 14.8 2.7 69 12.7 2 years
Olive Oil Pomace 14.5 2.5 70 12 2 years
Rice Bran 16 1 44 35 1-2 years
High Oleic Sunflower 5 4 81 9 3-6 months

At first glance it would seem like high oleic sunflower oil is the best choice.  I love sunflower oil.  I use it in a couple recipes, but sunflower oil has a short shelf life.  I haven’t noticed any problems with the longevity of my products where I use sunflower oil, but then I’m not using them at a usage rate of 40% of my total oils.

The next best choice (if I want to not use olive oil) would be rice bran oil.  I actually use rice bran in some of my recipes (I do a 20:20% ratio of olive:rice bran instead of a straight up 40% olive oil).  I haven’t noticed really any difference overall.  Problem is rice bran has a much higher percentage of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic) than sunflower or olive.  I use avocado oil in my recipes which is also fairly high in poly-unsaturated fatty acids.  I try to keep a balance recipe of saturated/unsaturated fats when making a recipe. I don’t want to get rid of avocado oil (I LOVE that oil).  Anyway, I’m hesitant to use rice bran oil as a complete replacement for olive oil partial because of this.

So, the question is: What do I do?  I won’t cut olive oil out completely, but I do think I need to sub a portion of the oil for another (cheaper oil).  my gut says go with a combination of olive oil and sunflower oil (despite sunflower’s shorter shelf life). I do add ROE to my oils when I get them, so I think overall my shelf life of each bar won’t be affected too much, but still…  So, the question remains what do I do?

Have you been dealing with this same problem?  What are your thoughts and opinions? I’d love to hear what you do/think/like?


9 Responses to Oil Comparison: Olive, Rice Bran, or Sunflower Oil?

  1. Sly says:

    My 2 Cents:
    I’m a new-be to the soaping world (1+ yr) and have only made 3 dozen batches of CP, but right from the start I have enjoyed creating new recipes with different combos of oils. I discovered quickly how much I really prefer Sunflower Oil to Olive Oil. I have also started using Canola Oil (pure & at a good price from Costco). I like the SO & CO in combination with Coconut oil, because they give me a nice white bar, which I love to get truer colors. And they also give me time to try complicated techniques & swirls. They feel good on the skin too and I have had no complaints from customers – they love the soap. (I use a rice bran & olive oil combo when I want a yellow bar.) I put all my oils & butters in an old fridge to prolong the shelf life.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yeah. Sunflower Oil is by far my favorite of the choices. Just want to make sure I have a bar soap with a decent shelf life!

  2. Alex says:

    I too am struggling with the high price of olive oil, specially because I have a complete line of pure castiles (ouch!) so my wallet is feeling it. I have already modified my basic recipe for my other soaps and I have chosen to increase the amount of sunflower oil and decrease the amount of olive oil… I love sunflower oil.

  3. LuAnn says:

    I just came across this particular post, and as you well know, olive oil prices are still climbing! Did you decide what oil, or oil combination works best for you? I definitely need to lower my % of olive, so I’m trying to decide what to replace it with. I have discovered that my sunflower oil does last longer than than 6 months, I do add ROE, and either put it in the fridge, or right now, in my freezing cold garage! I just used some that is over a year old, and it smells and works fine! I agree with the use of avocado too, I use some in almost every batch!!

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’ve been using olive pomace lately…but I have mixed in some sunflower into the recipes lately and I like them. It’s just so hard cause I LOVE olive oil in my soap!

    • LuAnn says:

      Do you have a cash & carry where you live? I can actually order a 5 gallon bucket of just grade a olive oil from them, and it’s cheaper than any pomace I can buy. I tried pomace, but I really don’t like how dark it is, and I use a fair amount of hemp and it’s dark too! I have found I like apricot better than sunflower or rice bran. But I know what you mean, nothing can take the place of olive oil!!

  5. Lorrie says:

    So where is your recipe?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Lorrie, I don’t have a particular recipe for this post. I was just doing an analysis of the different oils. Understanding the different properties of oils will help you create your own recipe to make a soap that you absolutely love! That’s the fun of soap making! The possibilities are endless.

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