Linolenic Acid In Soapmaking

Fats and oils are made up of fatty acids, each a unique blend. Usually, we seek to create a well-balanced bar for general bathing, and it is the reason we mix oils rather than making soap with just one oil. We take advantage of the properties of several oils in search of that ideal bar, one that is hard and long-lasting, but that lathers well and cleans without drying the skin. Knowing what each of the fatty acids adds to soap is key to creating the bar you want.

The fatty acids we consider in soap making are: lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids. Each brings certain properties to the process of soapmaking and the finished product. We will discuss one fatty acid per post.

Previous posts dealt with lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, ricinoleic, oleic and linoleic acids

Linolenic acid, a fatty acid of import in soapmaking, is similar to linolenic fatty acid in many ways. Both are Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and valued for their rich, condition and silky feel in soap.

Pomegranate seed oil leads the list of high linolenic acid, followed by perilla, flax and linseed at 50% or more. Camellina Seed, sea buckthorn, cranberry seed and rosehip also contain a good percentage of linolenic acid. Limit these lovely oils to 15% or less to ensure they do not cause rancidity in the soap. Otherwise, DOS (Dreaded Orange Spot), those orange patches of rancidity may greet you one sad day.

Use discretion when purchasing high linolenic oils. Do not purchase more than you plan to use within six months, or keep excess amounts frozen until needed to avoid rancid oils.

We covered all the fatty acids we consider in making cold process or hot process soap. Use the information you collected to create the perfect bar! Next blog post, Iodine and INS in soapmaking.

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine
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