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

September 16, 2013

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?