Many of us do not realize the green skinned, pear shaped, fleshy pulped avocados that we purchase from the grocery store are botanically considered a large berry that grow on sub-tropical trees. Today’s avocado varieties originated in Guatemala, Mexico, and West India, which are now commonly grown in Mexico, California, and Florida.
Avocados contain 10-20% oil and are a healthy addition to the diet due to the high level of monounsaturated fat, which is a good fat that lowers bad cholesterol. Avocados are also packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B, vitamin E and potassium.
Avocado oil is commonly used in cooking, as well as cosmetics and health products which are geared towards growth and moisturization of skin, hair, and nails. Avocado oil is beneficial to all skin types, but is especially helpful for dry, aging and mature skin.
Avocado oil can be extracted at home through a process of mashing the avocado fruit with a small amount of water until it becomes a paste. The pulp is then gently heated which leads to separation of the avocado oil from the pulp and water. Extraction of the oil is commonly achieved by squeezing the fruit through a muslin cloth or bag. See below for details on how to make your own avocado oil.
Avocado oil is commonly obtained on a commercial level by the centrifuge method. Ripe avocados are de-skinned and de-pitted and are spun in drums at a high speed, which forces the oil to separate from the pulp, leaving it easily collected.
Avocado oil, botanical name Persea gratissimia (Avocado) Oil, is a popular ingredient in soap making due to the conditioning and creamy lather properties. Other oils and butters are commonly added to soap recipes that contain avocado oil, such as coconut oil, to help the lather to be more fluffy and bubbly.
Avocado Fatty Acid Profile and Soap Qualities
- Lauric Acid (hardness, cleansing, bubbly lather) 0%
- Myristic Acid (hardness, cleansing, bubbly lather) 0%
- Linoleic Acid (conditioning, moisturizing, lather silkiness) 5-15%
- Oleic Acid (conditioning, moisturizing, lather silkiness) 45-75%
- Palmitic Acid (hardness, stable creamy lather) 15-25%
- Ricinoleic Acid (conditioning, moisturizing, stable creamy lather) 0%
- Stearic Acid (hardness, stable lather) 1.5%
- Iodine Value (hardness, conditioning) 75-95 (on a scale of 0-100, with more hardness at 0)
To assist with calculating your soap recipes, the SAP (saponification) value of avocado is:
- .133 NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide)
- .188 KOH (Potassium Hydroxide)
Avocado Oil in Soap Formulation
I personally use avocado oil in many of my recipes at 5-15%. Because of it’s higher palmitic acid content, it actually does contribute to a harder bar of soap (compared to other liquid oils such as almond, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower). So I love using it in palm-free formulations where I want all the hardness that I can get into my formulation.
Substitutions for Avocado Oil in Soap
When we take a look at the fatty acid profile chart, you can sort it by palmitic acid or oleic acid to find substitutes. Oils with similar profiles include rice bran oil, neem oil, emu oil and olive oil. These are all high in both oleic and palmitic acid similar to avocado oil. But really, you can substitute with any liquid oil; you might just get a bit of a softer soap.
Soap Recipes Using Avocado Oil
I personally LOVE avocado oil in soap so most of my recipes include it. Here are some of my favorites.
- Dead Sea Mud and Argan Oil Facial Bar – I love using it in facial bars because of the vitamin e and other nutrients that it contains.
- Fresh Avocado Puree Cold Process Soap Recipe – This soap uses both avocado oil + fresh avocado puree for a recipe packed full of avocado goodness.
And just for fun, you can make your own avocado oil at home!
How to Make Avocado Oil
What You’ll Need
- 2 Ripe avocado fruits
- 2 ounces of distilled water
- Mortar, potato masher, food processor or blender
- Medium sized bowl
- Large baking sheet or tray
- Large muslin or cotton cloth, or bag
- Cut both avocado fruits in half
- Remove the stones
- Spoon out the pulp into a bowl
- Mash the avocado fruit until it becomes a coarse paste, or grind the pulp with a food processor or blender. Note, the pulp will become much finer when a food processor or blender is used. Add a small amount of distilled water if needed to help the pulp grind to a paste.
- Spread the mashed avocado in a thin layer on a baking sheet. The thinner you can spread the pulp out, the better it dries, and the easier it is to extract the oil.
- Place the tray of avocado pulp in the sun for one to two days, or pop the tray in the oven at a temperature of 155°F (50°C). This low heat setting ensures the pulp dries out without causing it to burn.
- Leave the pulp in the oven for approximately 5 hours, or until it thoroughly dries out. When dried, the pulp will become a dark brown color.
- Remove the tray from the oven and scrape the pulp into a bowl. Cover the bowl with a large cotton or muslin cloth. Turn the bowl upside down and gather the edges of the cloth to form a bag. When using a muslin bag, skip the use of a bowl. Spoon the pulp directly into the bag.
- Squeeze the cloth or bag to extract the oil. This takes muscle and time, so keep on squeezing until the oil is completely expressed.
- The resulting fresh avocado oil will be a greenish yellow color. You’ll have fresh nutritious oil that is spectacular for both the diet and skin care.
To prevent the pulp from burning in the drying out process, low heat is a must. As a variation to steps 5 or 6, place the mashed pulp in a sauce pan and heat the pulp on a low setting, stirring often, until the pulp turns dark and all water has evaporated. Then place the dried pulp in a muslin bag or cloth, see step 8, and begin extracting the oil.