What’s The Deal With Palm Oil?

March 18, 2017

Palm oil is one of the most misunderstood plant oils around. Since it so often gets a bad wrap, we thought we would set the record straight on what makes OUR palm oil different and why using it won't burn the rain forest down any time soon.

Does your palm oil cause damage to rain forests or wildlife?

Short answer: Absolutely not!

As with all resources, from diamonds and coffee to water and timber, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Additionally, as with diamonds, coffee, water and timber, there are organizations out there ensuring that certain standards are being followed to ensure these resources are being gathered in the right way. We have Conflict Free Diamonds, Fair Trade Coffee, and RSPO Certified Palm Oil.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2004 to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil. The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions. This organization not only ensures that the palm oil is sustainable, but also works to lift palm oil farmers out of poverty and provide them with sustainable income to help support their families. You can read more about their efforts here.

Every drop of palm oil that goes into making SLAB Soap carries the RSPO certification. We do everything we can to ensure the longevity of our planet, including being very meticulous about where each and every one of our ingredients comes from. SLAB dedicates ourselves to sustainability, helping developing communities and providing quality products.

Does your palm oil cause cancer?

Short answer: No way José!

In May of 2016 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a study stating that certain fatty acids found in palm and other oils could potentially be carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures. And that right there is the key: when heated to high temperatures. The oil would need to be heated to 392°F or higher for the fatty acids to break down to the point of concern. This is true for ANY AND ALL kinds of oils, not just palm. While the food manufacturing process may do this to their oils, the soap manufacturing process never reaches these temperatures. We want to preserve the integrity of the fatty acids, because, after all, that is why we use these oils.

Is it possible to avoid the “bad” palm oil?

Short answer: Most definitely!

You can think of palm oil production with the same train of thought as real estate: location, location, location. Palm oil produce in Malaysia, for example, is not only sustainable by rule, but by tradition. And conforming to these high standards will soon become mandatory. In 2015 Malaysia’s Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) announced that Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification will become mandatory for all Malaysian palm oil producers by 2019.  This certification program, first launched in 2015, helps ensure that all palm oil produced in the country is as good for the economy as it is for the environment and the Malaysian people. Other areas of the world do not follow these same guidelines and, therefore, are harming their local environment.

In other words, if you find something with palm oil and the producers can’t or won’t tell you WHERE it comes from, don’t buy it! All of our palm oil comes from small farms in Malaysia, and is 100% certified sustainable.

With all the controversy, why do you still use palm oil?

Short answer: It’s the best!

According to the American Palm Oil Council, palm oil has been consumed for over 5000 years. Its health benefits are numerous and additional benefits continue to be discovered. Some of our favorite benefits include noticeable changes to health and vitality of skin and hair.

Palm oil is rich in toctrienols, a nutrient dense form of vitamin E. The most common form of vitamin E, tocopherol, has long been used to treat many skin ailments and is found in many anti-aging products. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that helps the skin to fight free radicals that damage the skin and cause fine lines and wrinkles. Toctrienols are far stronger than the average vitamin E that’s commonly used in your skincare products. Toctrienols have been proven to be more effective in preventing aging and damage from free radicals than other forms of vitamin E. Used topically, as with tocopherol, toctrienols are able to penetrate deep into the skin’s layers to enable healing and protection from the base up.

To put it simply, we just would not have the same high quality product or the same results without palm oil.

Ultimately, it's not about using palm oil, it's about WHAT KIND of palm oil you use that makes a massive difference. Palm oil holds a vast number of benefits in beauty and personal care applications that are seriously understated, not to mention the growth seen in struggling economies, and, while we don't recommend using just any palm oil, using RSPO certified sustainable palm oil can and does do a whole lot of good.

*Infographics courteously provided by www.rspo.org and www.palmoilhealth.org


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