The Olive Oil in Our Soap and Skin Care ...

Spain is the worlds leading olive and olive oil producer and exporter. With more than 300 million olive trees distributed over 2 million hectares (5 million acres) of groves the annual oil production amounts to between 600,000 and 1,000,000 metric tonnes per annum. Around 80% of tpitcher of freshly pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oilhe total crop is grown in Andalucia.

There are many different types of olive but the main cultivated strains here in Sevilla province are Arbequina, Picual ,Hojiblanco and Manzanillas. The harvest season begins around October each year with picking of the still green olives designated for pickling and eating, the harvest for oil production begins around December when the fruit is dark and ripe. This is a time of much activity and roads are often blocked due to slow moving tractors and heavily laden trailers heaped high with fruit on their way to the mill for pressing. During this period the air is heavy with the pungent aroma of the new oil.
This is also a time of great excitement for us here at the Andone of the 1000kg olive oil containers at the ASC factoryalucia Soap Company where we spend much time with local growers tasting their fresh oro verde or green gold as it is known and to discuss prices and quality, test acidity levels and secure our supply of best quality extra virgin for the coming year.

Extra virgin olive oil is the oil obtained from the first pressing of the fruit, firstly the fruit and stone are crushed and the resulting mulch is then transferred to a hydraulic press, each olive produces around 2 - 3 droplets of oil and around 11kg of fruit are needed to produce 1kg of oil. It is this first press or extra virgin oil that we use in the manufacture of our products. There are further processes involving the left over pulp and pits being mixed with a solvent (usually alcohol) to wash out the remaining droplets of oil. This mixture is then filteTesting Acidity level of extra virgin olive Oilred and heated until the alcohol evaporates leaving an oil that is known as orujo or in english, Pomace. Pomice is the preffered oil for use by most soap makers who include olive oil in their formulations, because it is inexpensive in comparison to extra virgin, it is however vastly inferior to first press and this is the reason we do not use it.

The extra virgen oil is often filtered because people in many countries especially northern Europe the USA and Japan think that the oil is bad or off if it is cloudy and will not buy it. This is often a source of amusement to the local oil producers who cannot understand why people would want one of the best things removed. This cloudiness is due to the suspension of fruit particles that remain after pressing and it is this that makes unfiltered oil superior.

Good extra virgin oil for food purposes has all of its natural vitamins intact and an acidity of between 0.4 and 0.8 degrees, the acidity refers to the content of free fatty acids with 1 degree equal to 1 gram of oleic acid per 100 gram of oil. The higher the acidity the stronger the taste of the oil and an acidity of over 1 degree would be too strong in taste for most people. For soap and skin care products however a higher acidity means more oleic acid and antioxidative substances, taste is not the important criteria in skin care products but high oleic acidity is desirable due to its high emollient content (moisturising qualities). We prefer oil up to 1.5 degrees and include over 80% of this wonderful commodity in all our standard soap range and 100% in our Liquid Castile and Pure Castile Soap bars. A high percentage is also included in most of our leave on skin care products.

*Photos show (from top to bottom)
Unfiltered first press extra virgen olive oil*
One of the 1000kg oil containers at the our factory in Osuna, Seville*
The Master Soapmaker tests olive oil acidity levels at the ASC factory *