ALL ABOUT PALM OIL

IN ESSENCE...

 
 

HISTORY OF PALM OIL

Commonly recognized as the tall, towering, ornamental garden tree that grows along streets and walking paths, the Palm tree has become one of the world’s most cultivated botanicals due to the flesh of its fruits and the fruits’ kernels, which yield the versatile Palm Carrier Oil and Palm Kernel Carrier Oil.

Sometimes referred to as “Red Palm Oil” because of its natural, rich, dark redness when unprocessed, Palm Carrier Oil is obtained from the fruit of the Elaeis guineensis botanical, which is better known as the Oil Palm Tree. Palm Kernel Oil, on the other hand, is derived from the same fruit’s kernels. These oils must be further distinguished from Coconut Oil, which is derived from the kernel of the Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera).

Although the Oil Palm has been naturalized in Central America, the West Indies, Madagascar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, as well as several islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it is native to west and southwest Africa and is thus commonly referred to as African Oil Palm or Macaw-Fat. While the main source of Palm Oil is the African Oil Palm, its other sources include the American Oil Palm (Elaeis oleifera) and the Maripa Palm (Attalea maripa) of both South America and Trinidad and Tobago. To some degree, these Palm Trees are all related. Between the 1970s-90s, Malaysia became the world’s largest producer of Palm Oil.

The use of Palm Oil can be traced back to West Africa 5000 years ago, at which time evidence suggests it was used as a staple food crop. It is believed that Arab traders introduced Palm Oil to Egypt, where Egyptians applied it topically to relieve muscular aches and pains. Considered to be sacred, casks of the oil were buried in tombs along with the deceased, as they believed they could continue using it in the afterlife. Archaeologists reportedly discovered a tomb from 3000 BCE in Abydos that contained a vessel of several kilograms of Palm Oil. Having originated in West Africa, evidence of its usage in Egypt is proof that Palm Oil was an early trade commodity. Other written records show that in the 15th century, Europeans traveling to West Africa began using Palm Oil as a food source.

In some regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Brazil, Palm Oil was used for culinary purposes and was ideal for use in frying, as the refined product demonstrated high oxidative stability with increases in temperature. In traditional African medicine, the versatile Palm Tree’s various parts were used to produce laxatives and diuretics as well as treatments for gonorrhea, menorrhagia, and bronchitis. It was used to soothe headaches, to relieve pain associated with rheumatism, to facilitate the healing of wounds and skin infections, and to negate poison.

When Oil Palm trees were introduced to British estates, the Indian laborers’ that worked at the estates combined their Hindu beliefs with the local Malay culture and together the two cultural groups facilitated a cross-cultural spiritual practice that involved Palm seeds. This ritual allowed the locals to feel at peace with nature. In every bunch of Palm seeds, there was one in particular that resembled a shiny, black pearl. These pearly seeds, called “sbatmi” in Tamil and “shakti” in Malay, were specifically chosen by the traditional healers to make accessories for the ritual. It was believed that these distinguished seeds had supernatural curative properties and that those who wore them were blessed by nature.

 
 

BENEFITS OF USING PALM OIL

The main chemical constituents of Palm Carrier Oil are: Palmitic Acid, Oleic Acid, Myristic Acid, Stearic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Carotenoids, Phytosterols, and Vitamin E.

 

The main chemical constituents of Palm Kernel Carrier Oil are: Lauric Acid, Myristic Acid, Oleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Capric and Caprylic Acids, Stearic Acid, and Linoleic Acid.

 

PALMITIC ACID is known to:

 

OLEIC ACIDS (OMEGA 9) are known to:

 

MYRISTIC ACID is known to:

 

STEARIC ACID is known to:

 

LINOLEIC ACIDS (OMEGA 6) are known to:

 

CAROTENOIDS are known to:

 

PHYTOSTEROLS are known to:

 

VITAMIN E is known to:

 

LAURIC ACID is known to:

 

CAPRIC ACID AND CAPRYLIC ACID are believed to:

 

Used topically, Palm Oil restores hydration to dry skin, preventing further dryness by sealing in moisture. Suitable for use on sensitive skin, it effectively nourishes areas afflicted by eczema, psoriasis, and stretch marks. The antioxidant properties of Palm Oil boost immunity and delay the onset of wrinkles. With anti-bacterial properties, Palm Oil can prevent acne breakouts while removing impurities and dead skin for a rejuvenated complexion. Used in a massage, Palm Oil enhances skin elasticity, protects skin from harmful UV radiation, boosts circulation, soothes minor burns, slows the look of wrinkles, lightens dark spots and blemishes, and facilitates the regeneration of newer, more supple skin.

Used in hair, Palm Oil maintains the collagen that holds hair together, thus it reduces hair loss by promoting the growth of stronger, thicker, healthier hair while simultaneously slowing the appearance of graying hair. Its anti-bacterial components help maintain a cleaner scalp that is free from dandruff and parasites, such as lice, thus soothing any itchiness on the scalp. The deep conditioning properties of Palm Oil introduce shine, softness, and volume to hair that is dull, dehydrated, and flat. Those with curly hair will benefit from the moisture offered by Palm Oil, as it maintains softness and resilience while eliminating frizz without making hair feel weighed down.

Used medicinally, Palm Oil soothes rashes and skin damage caused by minor skin disorders as well as by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays or other harsh elements. The use of Palm Oil is believed to strengthen bones and thus prevent osteoporosis.

 

As illustrated, Palm Carrier Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:

 
 

CULTIVATING AND HARVESTING QUALITY PALM OIL

Palm Trees can exist in a vast range of environments, largely thriving in humid, tropical or subtropical climates with direct sunlight. They prefer soils that are moist, humus-rich, and sandy, with a pH range of 4.5 – 6. Palm trees are also diverse in their forms, some growing as shrubs and others growing into trees. The Oil Palm grows into a tree and can often be found in wetlands along the banks of rivers and other bodies of water, such as streams and freshwater swamps.

Mature Oil Palms are single-stemmed with pinnate leaves, also called “fronds,” that can grow up to 5 m long and appear feather-like in their shapes. Young Palm trees can produce approximately 30 leaves each year while mature Palms can produce approximately 20 leaves and grow up to 20 m tall. All year long, Oil Palms produce small flowers – both male and female – in dense, separate clusters, each with three sepals and three petals. After an inflorescence of flowers of one sex, the tree produces an inflorescence of flowers of the opposite sex, hence male and female flowers are not produced at the same time.

Trees begin to bear fruit 3-4 years after their seeds have been germinated. After pollination, it takes 5-6 months for them to mature. After this time, they grow on short, heavy stalks in clusters of 200-300, though sometimes this number can reach 2000. They gradually change in color from green to orange. As the fruits mature, they turn red and are approximately the size of a plum. Their final shapes are ovoid and their final color is deep violet, although they remain red at the base.

The flesh of the Palm fruit is reddish-orange, and it is from this that Palm Carrier Oil is derived. This flesh encloses a fibrous covering, or a “stone,” containing a nut, or a “kernel,” from which Palm Kernel Carrier Oil is derived.

 

 

Oil Palm is harvested all year long, with an average annual production of 20 tonnes of fruit that yields 4,000 kg of palm oil. This yields 750 kg of seed kernels, from which 500 kg of Palm Kernel Oil may be derived.

 
 

HOW IS PALM OIL EXTRACTED

Palm Carrier Oil and Palm Kernel Carrier Oil are both obtained by cold-pressing the fruit pulp and the fruit kernels, respectively. During the cold-press process, the red pulp and the stones are separated. The stones are cracked to extract the kernels within.

The cold-pressed oil extracted from the Palm pulp is known as Crude Palm Oil (CPO). The Carotene content of crude Palm Oil contributes to its characteristic red color. When it is refined, bleached, and deodorized, its Carotenes are removed, thus the RBD oil becomes colorless as well as odorless. The physical refining process also involves Fractional Crystallization to separate the solids from the liquids, followed by melting and degumming to remove impurities. The oil is then filtered and bleached. The free fatty acids that are removed from the oil during this process are used in the manufacturing of cosmetics, soaps, detergents, candles, resins, and glycerol. Palm Kernel Oil is often used as an alternative to Coconut Oil, due to their similar composition, namely because of the Lauric acid content. This fatty acid is not present in Palm Oil.

 
 

USES OF PALM OIL

The uses of Palm Carrier Oil are abundant, ranging from medicinal to cosmetic. Its many forms include oils, gels, lotions, creams, soaps, shampoos, and candle making.

For topical use, Palm Oil can be added to creams, foundations, and lotions to contribute anti-aging properties as well as profound moisture for softer, more supple skin. For a moisturizing face mask, cleanse the face with water to remove all dirt and oil, pat the skin dry with a soft towel, rub a few drops of Palm Oil over the face, and allow the skin to absorb it before rinsing it off. This will also lighten any unwanted dark blemishes or hyperpigmentation by slowing the production of melanin. For an alternative yet similarly effective mask, Palm Oil can be blended with clay powder and an egg before being applied to a cleansed face and left on for up to 20 minutes before being rinsed off with water.

Palm Oil can also be added to natural shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. Applied directly to clean, damp hair, Palm Oil removes impurities from the scalp and hair while conditioning the hair and restoring its natural oils. For a Palm Oil hair mask, it can be mixed with honey and Coconut Oil before being applied to the scalp and allowed to soak for a few minutes before being washed out. This remedy boosts hair health and reduces hair fall by relieving dryness and itching. For a deep conditioning hot oil hair treatment, Palm Oil can be mixed with Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil, and Lavender Essential Oil. After heating the oil blend, allow it to cool, then apply it to damp hair and allow it to air dry.

Used medicinally, Palm Oil soothes bruises and sunburns. When applied to cuts, Palm Oil facilitates faster healing.

 
 

A GUIDE TO PALM OIL VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS

 
PALM VARIETY & BOTANICAL NAME COUNTRY OF ORIGIN BENEFITS OF OIL
Palm Carrier Oil (RBD)

Elaeis guineensis
Found in:
  • Malaysia
Known for:
  • being Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized
  • being odorless and colorless
  • being rich in Palmitic Acid and Vitamin E
  • being rich in natural antioxidants
  • being almost exclusively used by cold process soap manufacturers
  • being more yellow in color
Palm Kernel Carrier Oil (RBD)

Elaeis guineensis
Found in:
  • Malaysia
Known for:
  • producing a harder bar of soap that lasts longer when sitting in the shower
  • being primarily used by soap makers manufacturing cold process soaps, due to its ability to give great lather
  • hardening soaps and helping soap formulas to saponify quickly
  • having very little scent characteristic of most carrier oils
  • being solid at room temperature, thus requiring heating for production
  • leaving an oily feeling on the skin if applied neat
  • being non-GMO and non–allergenic
  • have moisturizing and skin-softening properties
  • being used in skin care manufacturing
  • leaving an oily feeling on the skin if applied neat
  • being similar to Coconut Oil in composition and benefits
  • being ideal for use in manufacturing white soaps
Palm Organic Carrier Oil (Refined)

Elaeis guineensis
Found in:
  • Ecuador
Known for:
  • being the ideal variety for manufacturing organic products requiring only organic ingredients
  • being derived from the fruit of the Palm tree
  • being rich in Palmitic acid and Vitamin E
  • being a natural source of antioxidants
  • being refined
  • being almost exclusively used by cold process soap manufacturers
  • leaving an oily feeling on the skin if applied neat
 
 

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR PALM OIL

As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, carrier oils are for external use only. Palm Carrier Oil and Palm Kernel Oil should not be ingested, and should not be used on or near children, in case of accidental ingestion. As with all other oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm using a dime size amount of Palm Oil to check for sensitivities. An absence of an allergic response within 48 hours indicates that the oil is safe to use. Individuals with allergies to nuts or Cotton Seed Oil are at a higher risk of developing an allergy to Palm Oil and should avoid its use.

It is rare to experience an allergic reaction to refined Palm Oil, as the heating process usually removes the allergens, thus removing the risk of allergy from the oil; however, some potential and possibly sudden side effects may include itching and swelling – most likely of the face, tongue, or throat. Other effects may include irritation such as inflammation, blisters, burning, rashes, redness, or stinging, as well as dizziness and trouble breathing. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately.

Palm Oil leaves a yellowish stain when applied topically, but this can be easily washed off of skin.

 
 

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