Monday, December 22, 2014

Oils: Baobab oil

I admit that I'm a bit of an oil junkie. When I see a new one at Voyageur Soap & Candle, I have to buy it and try it in my products. This week's new purchase is baobab seed oil. This cold pressed oil is compared to avocado oil, although I find it is more viscous with a silkier and drier feel than avocado oil. (If you're familiar with kukui nut oil, I find that it is similar to that oil in silkiness.) This is a very thick oil, thanks to the palmitic acid we find in it at 18 to 30%, which is an awful lot for a liquid oil. (Compare this to avocado's 10% or sweet almond oil's 2% to 6%.) It also contains 2% to 9% stearic acid, 30% to 42% oleic acid, 20% to 35% linoleic acid, and 1% to 3% linolenic acid.

Baobab oil (INCI: Adanasonia digitata oil) contains quite a lot of unsaponifiables* at 2.8% to 3.8%, and that's where we find our lovely phytosterols! Phytosterols can be converted into cholecalciferol and Vitamin D, and they offer anti-inflammatory and skin barrier mechanism repair properties to our skin. Baobab oil contains 3457 ppm phytosterols, with the main ones being ß-sitosterol at 75%, avenasterol at up to 13%, and campesterol at 6%. You'll also find quite a lot of squalene in this oil, which penetrates our skin quickly and offers great moisturizing.

*Unsaponifiable matter is the part of the oil that won't turn to soap when you saponify it. 

Baobab oil contains some Vitamins, with Vitamin E being found at 678 ppm. It contains Vitamin A in the form of ß-carotene. I have seen it said that it contains Vitamin D, but I wasn't able to confirm this. I've also seen it said that it contains Vitamin F, which isn't a Vitamin but the essential fatty acids of omega-3 (linolenic fatty acid) and omega-6 (linoleic fatty acid). It contains polyphenols in the form of catechins, which might be why it feels a bit drier than other oils.

As I mentioned above, it's a thick oil with a specific density of 0.937 g/ml. (Water is 1 g/ml.) If you are wishing to soap with this, check with your specific supplier of baobab oil because I've seen all kinds of saponification values and iodine values for this oil and I would hate to give you the wrong information for the oil you have in your workshop.

So what do we have here? We have a drier, silkier feeling oil that is quite viscous and might be described as medium to heavy in weight. It contains a lot of wonderful phytosterols and vitamins, including Vitamin E and Vitamin A, and squalene.

How to use baobab oil? Anywhere you might use any other oil. Use it anhydrous products (those without water) or those with water like lotions, conditioners, and so on. It's not an inexpensive oil - 125 ml or 4.2 ounces is $11.40 at Voyageur Soap & Candle or $13.50 for 4 ounces from From Nature with Love (not affiliated with either company, just offering examples), so you might want to reserve it for things where the oils really make a huge difference, like a facial moisturizer or lotion with fewer oils.

Summary of baobab oil
INCI: Adansonia digitata seed oil
Palmitic acid: 18% to 30%
Stearic acid: 2% to 9%
Oleic acid: 30% to 42%
Linoleic acid: 20% to 35%
Linolenic acid: 1% to 3%

An updated view of Adansonia digitata: A commercially important African tree
Baobab (book)
Baobab phytochemistry (paper)
Baobab fruit company data bulletin

Join me tomorrow as we take a look at another ingredient, lupine amino acids!


Paige B said...

Do we know the shelf-life?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hmm, I wrote a paragraph on that. Why didn't it make it in there? The short answer is that I don't know. The long answer is that some places list it at two years and still some others say it is "stable". I can't see it being that stable with all that linolenic acid and so little Vitamin E, so I'm going with six months until I know anything more.

Lulue said...

Would this be a good oil for hair products?

Micki Perepeczko said...

Very interesting article as I use baobab oil in most of my products. It is cold pressed in the country I live. When I buy the oil - the shelf life is guaranteed 12 months! I have tried to make a pure baobab soap which failed. It does not saponify, however, I did make a baobab oil shampoo using KOH - I got a lovely paste but it took forever to dissolve. What was interesting though, the shampoo had a creamy colour effect - when I left it to stand - about three weeks - it cleared to a golden looking syrup. The pH was perfect. Having said that, it does work out to be an expensive bottle of shampoo!

Lyz Gregory said...

Hi Susan,
I am new to all this amazingness and I am not sure of some of the specifics. . The site I have been using offers, virgin unrefined baobab oil as well as baobab hydrolyzed protein. What are the main differences and how are they used in formulas? I bought the latter,realizing that I needed more information before using it. I Thank you!