What is potassium oleate?

When looking at the small army of chemical products that we can find our haircare and skincare products today, one name you might see a fair amount of is potassium oleate. To the untrained eye this essentially means nothing. However, if you wish to know what this is, then read on. At the most basic level, potassium oleate, otherwise known as Salt of Oleic Acid, is a powerful potassium salt of oleic acids and fatty acids. It’s a salt product that is produced due to the presence of an acid and a base.

It’s also a liquid potassium soap style product when you combine it with water. It’s commonly used in things like facial cleansers, body washes, and hair treatments. Why? Because this is a very powerful emulsifier. Potassium oleate is a surfactant, which means that it can easily reduce surface tension in a liquid product.

It’s made to help make sure that the ingredients found within your care goods are not going to separate into their own individual platforms. It’s commonly used in food and in food manufacturing, particularly as a form of an emulsifier or an anti-caking agent.

You’ll probably notice the term potassium oleate being used on a lot of your home cleaning agents, too. Many household products use it to avoid the separation that was mentioned on the above. It’s also used as a rubber foaming agent, a detergent solution, and even a catalyst. For that reason, it’s become a major part of the international cleaning and care market.

It’s used for various purposes and is typically used in the cleaning and food agencies. If you are ever using a product and you notice it has potassium oleate in it, then, you can feel safe in using it. As far as we know, no issues exist with the usage of potassium oleate as long as it’s kept to the right dosage and purpose.


Written by Jordan Prichard. Medically reviewed by Dr. Shane Jackson, MBBS. Last modified on 20/05/2020. 


Dr. Shane Jackson a UK based doctor, working within the NHS for 9 years. With experience in both Medicine and Surgery, his time is now spent mainly in Elderly care and Rehabilitation. Outside of his clinical work he has a strong educational presence, teaching undergraduates and foreign doctors wishing to work in the UK. He is passionate about the dissemination of healthcare for all, providing consultancy for health, well-being and biotech startups worldwide. Dr. Jackson is the founder of Acrosophy, which helps school leavers applying to medical, dental and associated courses at the top universities in the country. 

Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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