Soybean oil


Glycine max (L.) Merr. Fabaceae

INCI: Glycine max (soybean) oil

Purpose: often in pharmaceutical technology but not so often in cosmetics. Application similar to sunflower oil, as one of the cheap oils for nourishing cosmetics. Soap production.

Price: very cheap oil

The secret of healing: linoleic acid, sterols, tocopherols

My note: a fine but rarely used oil, you may use it instead of some other edible oil (sesame, sunflower) in cosmetics.

Oral use: diet

Soy is the most unusual food. Although it has been present in our diet since ancient times, I remember a few “seesaws” of opinion for this food: it is healthy, it is unhealthy, it is healthy, it is unhealthy… In scientific papers you will find a whole cacophony of data.

Soybean oil is one of the main edible oils of North America. It got on the negative list because soy is the most famous GMO plant, which people also don’t like. Nevertheless, non-GMO soybean oil is found on the market, but very rarely in the unrefined variant. Let’s consider its chemical composition. Soybean oil is a cocktail of linoleic acid and a lower proportion of oleic acid. It is similar in these characteristics to linoleic sunflower or safflower oil. On average, refined oil also contains 2.36g/kg of sterol (slightly lower than sunflower). It is dominated by β-sitosterol (1.23g/kg), campesterol (0.59g/kg) and stigmasterol (0.54g/kg). Unlike sunflower, the dominant tocopherol is γ-tocopherol (834mg/kg) and δ-tocopherol (290mg/kg), while the total tocopherol is 1.23g/kg. Soybean oil is a true oil of averageness with a slightly higher tocopherol content.

Soybean oil, similar to sunflower or safflower oil can be a part of fine and cheap cosmetics, from body oil to hand and face cream. It is sometimes used, in addition to oils rich in lauric acid, as a cheap raw material for soaps enriched with nourishing linoleic acid. Personally, I have no experience in making macerates in this oil, but it is one of the possible ideas.

Caution must be exercised for people who are allergic to soy: in the US, 4 out of a thousand children are allergic to soy. Therefore, we avoid this oil in cases of atopic dermatitis.

Quality requirement*
Basic characteristics 
Organoleptic characteristicsClear pale yellow liquid with a neutral taste and smell.
Relative densityabout 0,922
Refractive index of light at 20 °Cabout 1.475
Acid number mg KOH/gmaximum 0.5
Peroxide value mEq O2/Kgmaximum 10.0
Content of unsaponifiable matter (%)maximum 1.5
Water content0.1
Fatty acid content (%)
Fatty acids less than C:14maximum 0.1
C14:0 myristic acidmaximum 0.2
C16:0 palmitic acid9.0 - 13.0
C16:1 palmitoleic acidmaximum 0.3
C18:0 stearic acid2.5 - 5.0
C18:1 oleic acid17.0 - 30.0
C18:2 linoleic acid48.0 - 58.0
C18:3 α-linolenic acid5.0 - 11.0
C20:0 arachidic acidmaximum 1.0
C20:1 eicosenic acidmaximum 1.0
C22:0 behenic acidmaximum 1.0
Sterol content
Brasicasterolmaximum 0.3

*Ph. Eur.

Useful references
  • Unsaponifiable Matter in Plan +t Seed Oils. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013
  • Edible Oil Processing, 2nd Edition Wolf Hamm (Editor), Richard J. Hamilton (Editor), Gijs Calliauw (Editor)  July 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
  • Vegetable Oils in Food Technology: Composition, Properties and Uses, Second Edition Frank D. Gunstone Blackwell Publishing 2011
  • Bailey’s Industrial Oil and Fat Products (6 Volume Set) By Fereidoon Shahidi: Wiley-Interscience; 6 edition 2005
  • Skin wound healing and phytomedicine: a review. Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Rafiee E, Mehrabian A, Feily A. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(6):303-10.


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