50 Pounds of Palm Oil

I’ve always been afraid to buy a 50 lb block of Palm oil. It seems every time I need some Palm, it’s the middle of summer. And once again, I estimated I would run out by the end of August. There are always disclaimers from suppliers: “not responsible for any leakage or damage.”

But in March, one of my suppliers was having a sale and finally the weather was going to be cold. (We have had an extremely warm winter in Colorado.)

I looked at my past orders from this company and determined that it usually takes 2 days for an order to be filled and 1 week for delivery via FedEx. So on a Sunday I put in my order for a 50 lb Palm Cube, thinking it would be filled on Tuesday and I would get it the following Tuesday. Even if it came early, we were supposed to get a snow storm on Friday, with more cold days through Tuesday.

The order was immediately filled Monday morning and scheduled for a Thursday delivery – unheard of…but still, delivery companies are known to be 1-2 days late out in the boonies. But my order arrived on Thursday – with a record-breaking temperature of 76 degrees that day! (That evening we got a blizzard – no kidding, and not unusual for the Denver area.)

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The 50 lb cube arrived in perfect condition – solid, with no melting. Which made me cognizant of the fact that Palm Oil does take a much higher temperature to melt (95-97 degrees) than 76 degree Coconut oil. (I once got a bucket of Palm Oil in summer and it arrived in a mess. It was packaged inside of a plastic bag that was zip-tied & leaking, put into a pail, and mostly melted – the outside temperature was in the 90’s that day).

I opened my box and the oil was packed in a thick bag, but the bag wasn’t even closed on top, which I thought was crazy. However, it was all solid.

Now for the dividing & melting… Palm oil is comprised of liquid and solid oils, solidifying in layers (although you can’t see the layers.) The Steric Acid in the oil settles to the bottom of the container. The oil needs to be fully melted & stirred until clear so that all the oils are mixed together evenly, or you can get Steric acid spots like this (only all over):

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Steric acid spots look like the little white dots in the pink of this soap. (Although the Palm Oil I used was thoroughly melted & mixed, so these might not be true Steric acid spots, but this is what they look like.)

If you didn’t melt Palm Oil from top to bottom, and just scooped it out from the top, the soap made with this Palm would be much softer than soap made with the oil in the bottom (and with all that Steric acid on the bottom, you would get lots of acceleration.)

I cut the block into quarters, and then each of those in half, creating 8 cubes of about 100 oz of oil, which fit perfectly in my largest bowl to melt in the microwave. Cutting was pretty easy – like butter that had been sitting out on the counter for a short while – not all melty, but not too hard to pull a knife through.

I was pleasantly surprised at how bright white this Palm oil was:

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The first half of the cube was on the left side of the bag and has been chopped off

Each cube took about 8-9 minutes to completely melt. I then poured the bowl full into a plastic pail that I use for Master Batching oils. After all the oils from the first half of the 50 lb cube were melted and in the pail, I stirred them and divided into 1 gallon jugs. (Weighing each, as I was interested in how much I would get of the final product after drips & spills.)

Since I had cut the 50 pound cube in half from top to bottom, everything would still get mixed together by doing 25 pounds (half the cube) at a time.

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Forefront: 1/8 cube; middle: 1/4 cube; and in the back, the second half of the oil still in the bag

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Palm Oil cooling in containers

I ended up with 49 lbs, 13.5 oz of oils, so 2.5 oz were lost in the bag and while pouring into the jugs (dribbles and spillage). I put all of these gallon jugs in my dedicated soap freezer and exceeded my freezer space (having to put several jugs in the wild game chest freezer, knowing someone wouldn’t be to happy sharing that space…guess that means I need to make more soap!!)

This whole project took me 2.5-3 hours, which is a lot of time. I have not calculated out the difference of cost per gallon (including shipping) if buying a gallon at a time (7 lbs) verses ordering in a cube, melting and divide it all up.

It was much easier to chop up a block, rather than getting Palm in a bucket and having to use a belt warmer for hours & hours and still ending up with a big chunk in the middle that had to be chopped in the oil around it, pulled out, and microwaved.

I am also interested in trying Homogenized Palm Oil (which is sold by Soapers Choice). A 50 lb cube of that could be cut into smaller cubes, wrapped and frozen as is, melting only what is needed – a quick & easy process. Since it is Homogenized, all of the “layers” are incorporated. (Homogenization is a process used to make a mixture of two mutually non-soluble liquids the same throughout.) If you have tried Homogenized Palm Oil for soaping I would like to know what you think of it.

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