Here is some information from Ruth Esteves (Sirona Springs) about Palm Oil:
Palm oil is an edible oil extracted from the fruit of the oil palm. It’s naturally red in color, due to the high amount of carotenes. In fact, red palm oil is the richest dietary source of provitamin A carotenes (beta-carotene and alpha-carotene). It has 15 times more provitamin A carotenes than carrots and 300 times more than tomatoes! First cultivated in western Africa, it is widely used today as a cooking oil.
Palm oil is very commonly used to make soap. Often used in combination with other oils, it helps make a bar hard, long-lasting and produces a stable lather. The palm oil used in soap is refined and deodorized, losing its red color in the process. But some handmade soapmakers have been known to use the red oil instead, giving their soap a lovely, natural red or yellow color.
Currently, much controversy exists around the use of palm oil, which is found in a wide variety of products, from soap to processed foods to biodiesel. The pressure for more palm oil has lead to the deforestation of much rainforest for oil palm plantations, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia, which together produce almost all of the world’s palm oil. The claiming of rainforest by burning releases more carbon into the atmosphere and robs many species of precious habitat. The Sumatran tiger, the Asian rhinoceros and the Sumatran orangutan are all considered critically endangered.
But oil palms can be grown in a sustainable way. The supply is small, but growing. To support these companies and help protect remaining rainforest, all of the palm oil that we use in our soap is certified sustainable.
Source: Sirona Springs (http://www.sironasprings.com/)