Before I started soap making, I never considered that different brands of olive oils could provide different results. I guess I thought that if two olive oils were labelled ‘Extra Virgin’ that I could easily substitute one for the other.
I have since discovered that is true in one way, and in another it isn’t.
The way it is true? The SAP value of the oil stays the same. The way it is different? Everything from being harder or softer, different colours, easier unmoulding, longer lasting in the shower and just a nicer looking bar of soap.
I have experimented with a few different brands of olive oils. The first type I ever bought still remains the best. It is called Aegean Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The distributor is only one suburb away, luckily!, and when I ran out of this oil at my favourite fruit and vegetable shop, I called the distributor to find out the nearest stockist.
Why would I go to that much effort just to get a particular olive oil? I’ll show you.
What you’re about to see is the exact same recipe for cucumber soap, the only difference between them is that one uses Aldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the other uses Aegean Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Can you guess which one is the Aldi oil and which one is the Aegean?
The one on the right is Aegean. Now you might be asking, why is it better, as the one on the left looks really creamy, right? This is the same recipe. The exact same. After I made the soaps, I put them away in the same spot. The only difference is the olive oil brand. The one on the right actually looks like cucumber soap. If I was at a market, I could see that it had a lovely pale green colour from the cucumber and probably the olive oil. (Normally, Aegean doesn’t have a greenish colour to it, but this batch did.) I could cut this soap after 24 hours. It’s really hard now and looks great.
The soap on the left . . . well I cut one loaf and I’m still waiting to cut the second loaf, as it’s too soft. I have to constantly smooth the faces of the soap. It’s sticky and wet and crumbly. It hasn’t set up as hard and it doesn’t look as good as the green soap.
Now the soap on the left does look creamy–in both soaps I used buttermilk from the same carton–but I don’t think I’ll be able to sell this soap. It looks too soft, and I might have to leave it for 2 weeks before I can even cut it as I hate the soap to crumble.
I’ve been told a lot of soapers swear by Aldi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but this is the reason I don’t.
You want another photo to show the difference? Ok.
The soap I want to point out in this second photo is in the bottom left hand corner. Can you guess which olive oil was used for the top calendula soap (with yellow calendula petals and embedded loofah round ) and the soap in the second picture which is almond, oat and honey?
If you guessed that the first picture uses the Aegean oil, you would be correct. The second picture shows the Aldi oil used in soap. See how soft the soap looks in the bottom left corner? The soap bars are easily misshapen, they are really soft and while the colour is fine, the olive oil brand means the soap never sets really hard. Your fingerprints show up on the soap faces which makes it annoying when you’re trying to cut or turn the soap when it cures.
I never took too many pictures of the soaps I made with the Aldi oil. They never turned out exactly how I wanted them to.
The calendula soap used Aegean Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I’ve since noticed that some batches of this oil are greener than others. But still, this oil is the best I’ve found so far! It sets hard, has a lovely colour and seems to just work with whatever you’re trying to do with your soap.