Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oils - Reaction to Temperature

Oils react very differently to temperatures.  These differences can cause issues in your use of them if you are not aware of what to expect.  Since I have been making soap I have learned a great deal about how oils react in different temperatures.  Some of these findings may surprise you.

Olive oil - solidified

Olive oil - has a fairly high smoke point, but it congeals in the cold.  When olive oil drops below 40* it starts to solidify.  Below 15* olive oil is basically solid.  However when it is exposed to normal room temperatures it melts back into a liquid fairly quickly.

Sunflower oil - no change
Coconut oil - has a very high smoke point, but it also solidifies at a higher temperature.  Most of your coconut oil will have a melting point of 76*.  When it is exposed to cold temperatures it becomes very, very hard.  As in bend a spoon or break it trying to scoop it out of the container.  When it is brought back into room temperature it takes several hours to become 'scoop-able."  It looks pretty much the same after it gets solid, so I did not include a picture.

Sunflower oil - has a fairly low smoke point, but it does not solidify in the cold.  Even when the temperature is in the single digits it stays liquid.

Grapeseed oil - no change

Grapeseed oil - due to the high concentrations of vitamin E in this oil I try not to heat it any more than necessary.  It does stay liquid even at very cold temperatures.

Rice Bran oil - Very thick

Rice Bran oil - this oil is also very high in vitamin E, and therefore an oil that is more beneficial if it is kept cold.  When this oil is exposed to cold temperatures it does thicken a good bit but it does not seem to solidify.  At least it hasn't solidified at any of the temperatures I have stored this oil.

Hazelnut oil - some thickening

Hazelnut oil - Some thickening but still mostly liquid

Castor oil - castor oil is pretty thick to begin with.  I have not noticed any differences at any temperature it has been exposed to so far.

Hemp oil - Hemp oil thickens in the cold but I haven't noticed any solidifying.  Mind you my bottle is colored so it is impossible to actually see the oil so I am working on the fact that it still sloshes when I shake the bottle.  ;)

Avocado oil - solidified

Avocado oil - thickens to the point of solidification.  Avocado oil BTW is a wonderful oil for your skin.

All of these oils are ones that I use for soap making.  Since I have had to move everything out of the house and into our unheated shed, I have had the opportunity to see how cold temperatures effect different oils.  I thought that I should share the information in case there are others that are changing their storage area for their oils.  It really helps to know how to plan for soap making.  For instance yesterday when I made a batch of soap I literally had to bring the coconut oil into the house and melt it in the microwave.  It took 6 minutes in the microwave to get enough oil melted for my batch of soap.  I don't usually melt my oils, but sine they are staying so cold I am not having much of a choice with some of them.

With the olive oil all I had to do was place it over the heater, and I am pretty sure that the avocado and rice bran oils would melt the same way.  The coconut oil spent just as much time over the heater, but it was just starting to get a little bit melted around the very edges.  The nice thing about this cold is that if I make a batch of whipped soap or goats milk soap I won't have any problem keeping things nice and cold.  ;)

Yes I have showed several name brands in these pictures, but I have not been compensated in any way for this post by any company.  These are just the oils that I have on hand for my soap making.

Update: 1/29/14 - With the cold we are having here (11* at 9:30A) it has been interesting to see that even the grapeseed and sunflower oils are starting to look like the hazelnut oil.  ;)  Just FYI.

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