Substituting Vegetable Shortening and other Oils for Palm and Soybean in a recipe

by SJ

Hello, newbie here - so far I have learned that you can substitute Palm Oil with Vegetable Shortening or Coconut Oil, so what do you do when a recipe calls for Palm Oil AND Coconut Oil?

Or substituing Veg. Shortening for Soybean Oil when a recipe calls for Veg. Shortening AND Soybean Oil.

I ran them through the SoapCalc (still trying to understand everything that it's telling me) and the forumula would seem to come out with either no bubbly, and one had no cleaning. So I am totally at a loss when trying to learn all the facets of the different oils and what is really the best substitute for what in trying to make a well rounded soap.

Is there a site where I can plug in the oils and get suggestions on comparable substitutes? I have such a heightened appreciation for all the wonderful soap makers out there - and I guess I should have paid more attention in high school Chemistry class! Thanks for any suggestions, I am anxious to learn!


Vegetable shortening can perform similarly (or the same depending on the shortening) as palm oil in a recipe so it is easy to substitute. Coconut oil is a different matter.

Coconut oil provides cleansing abilities and a big bubbly lather. Vegetable shortening just doesn't perform the same way as coconut oil.

I know it can be confusing with so many oils and wondering what each one will do.

Visit my page on Soap Making Oils and scroll down below the oils chart to read my section on Formulating a Recipe. Hopefully that will help you to understand the functions of some of the oils more.

Good luck,

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Re Palm oil
by: Anonymous

I too purchased Palm Oil that was red from an African grocery store. I'd never used palm oil before so had no idea what it looked like. This stuff smelled of tomatoes (?) and although it didn't seem right I went ahead and used it. I strained it before making the soap. Soap turned out just fine and was actually a very nice yellow/pumpkin colour.
Not sure if I'll use it again however as the stuff was quite odorous!



my palm oil is a brown liquid? okay to use it
by: Bill H

I bought an african sourced (Ghana) palm oil from a jamaican grocery store and it is a brown liquid with a bit of a deposit... I saw on website that palm oil seemed to look like a white solid ... should i use this hydrogenated palm oil if it exists?
I made the soap and it turned out okay (I THINK) but is brown

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