Fats and Oil

What is the difference between a fat and an oil?

In practical terms there is no real difference. Doctors use the term lipid in referring to fat in our body but both fats and oils are mostly triglycerides and triglycerides are composed of individual fat molecules called fatty acids.

About 95%  of the lipids in our diet (both plant and animal sources) are triglycerides. It takes 3 fatty acid molecules to make a single triglyceride molecule, hence the prefix ‘tri’ meaning 3 in the name. Fatty acids are linked together by a single glycerol molecule. In making soap we use an alkali such as sodium hydoxide or potassium hydroxide (first mixed with water to make ‘lye’) to break these bonds and separate the triglycerides and glycerol. The glycerol is turned into glycerine which in small amounts is a wonderful moisturizer for the skin.

There are a number of different fatty acids in the different fats and oils and they all have different properties when made into soap.

The main fatty acids and their properties are laid out in the table below:

The make up of the oils we use here at Selby Soap are laid out in the table below:

Selby Soap is made using mainly Coconut and Olive oils (80-90% of total oils) as we feel that these 2 oils together make the best soap. We also carefully craft out soap so that a little of the coconut and olive oils are left unsaponified (turned into soap). This means when you use our soap there is a small quanitity of coconut and olive oils remaining in their natural state to benefit your skin as outlined below

Coconut Oil

Coconut contains the nutrients needed by the new coconut tree to get a healthy start in life and avoid infection. Like oats. it has a form of Vit E (tocotrienaol) that’s not only a powerful antioxidant but also prevents and treats cancer. In addition coconut contains fatty acids that ‘protect’ our friendly flora but at the same time kill a wide range of ‘unfriendly’ bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. So if you eat coconut and put it on your skin, you get the benefits of these nutrients and antibiotics. Radiant Health, Radiant Skin by Dr Megan Mathews and Alison Cassar

The uniqueness of coconut oil relates directly to the high percentage of Lauric Acid that it contains

Lauric acid is found in abundance in human breastmilk and converts to a substance called monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin has been shown to be useful in increasing immunity and fighting viruses and disease. WellnessMama

Olive Oil


Olive oil helps all skin types and conditions.

Olive oil is perhaps the most versatile and important oil for general health. It’s particularly rich in oleic acid (omega 9) with smaller amounts of omega 3 and 6. It also contains the natural moisturiser squalene plus a wide range of agents with antioxidant and anti-imflammatory properties (beta-carotene, vitamine E, polyphenols, oleocanthal)

Used topically, olive oil improves the skin’s oil by supplimenting the oleic acid, squalene and vitamin E found naturally in sebum. It also reduces inflammation, infection and the rist of cancer by absorbing UV radiation, mopping up free radicals and quietening the immune system. While suited to all types of skin and conditions, olive oil particularly benefits dry, burnt, acne-prone senstive and prematurely aged skin. Radiant Health, Radiant Skin by Dr Megan Mathews and Alison Cassar