Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil – What’s the Difference? – Saffire Blue Inc.
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Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil – What’s the Difference?

Palm Oil FruitPalm oil and palm kernel oil might sound a lot alike, but they are quite different when it comes to their function in cosmetic formulations and soap making. Though both oils are derived from the palm fruit, palm oil comes from the mesocarp, or the fleshy part of the fruit, while palm kernel oil comes from the kernel at the fruit’s core.


These two types of oils have different fatty acid compositions – palm oil contains 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat, whereas palm kernel oil is around 82% saturated fat and 18% unsaturated fat. Palm oil and palm kernel oil also have different chemical makeups which make them more suited to different types of products. See below for the different compositions of the two types of oils.

Type of Acid Palm Oil Palm Kernel Oil
Linoleic 10% 2%
Oleic 39% 18%
Palmitic 44% 9%
Stearic 5% 3%
Myrustic 0% 14%
Lauric 0% 48%


Can They Be Used Interchangeably?

The answer is no!  There are some websites out there that say they can, but this is incorrect. There are considerations that must be made when you are deciding what oils to use in your soap recipe. Both palm oil and palm kernel oil have certain properties that may make them more suitable for the recipe you are working with. You must consider how hard you would like your soap to be, if you want lots of lather, or if you would like it to be conditioning and long-lasting. Once you have determined your needs, you can begin to put together a recipe using one of these oils.


Palm oil is used to create a hard bar with a stable lather, and is often used to make a bar of soap long-lasting and resistant to melting. Palm oil is used to replace tallow or lard in a recipe. Using palm oil in your soap will give you a bar that has a moderate amount of cleansing and conditioning properties. This oil is solid only at cooler temperatures, and is sometimes used as a formula stabilizer in cosmetics. Palm oil is also used in candle making.


Palm kernel oil has similar properties to coconut oil and is used to make a white-coloured, harder bar of soap that provides a fluffy, bubbly lather. Palm kernel oil is less drying than coconut oil, and is often used as a substitute. This oil is in a solid state at room temperature, which contributes to the hardness of your soap bar.


No matter which oil you choose to use, it is important to ensure that your palm oil or palm kernel oil comes from a sustainable source. Palm oil from Saffire Blue is always sustainably grown. Our products are produced on a plantation that is not used on Rain Forest land. Our supplier is a member of RSPO (Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil).

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