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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Smoke point of various fats

The smoke point of various fats is important to note because a fat is no longer good for consumption after it has exceeded its smoke point and has begun to break down. Once a fat starts to smoke, it usually will emit a harsh smell and fill the air with smoke. In addition it is believed that fats that have gone past their smoke points contain a large quantity of free radicals which contibute to risk of cancer. Refining oils (taking out impurities) tends to increase the smoke point. The table below lists some ballpark values for smoke points of various common fats.

FatSmoke Point °FSmoke Point °C
Unrefined canola oil225°F107 °C
Unrefined flaxseed oil225°F107 °C
Unrefined safflower oil225°F107 °C
Unrefined sunflower oil225°F107 °C
Unrefined corn oil320°F160 °C
Unrefined high-oleic sunflower oil320°F160 °C
Extra virgin olive oil320°F160 °C
Unrefined peanut oil320°F160 °C
Semirefined safflower oil320°F160 °C
Unrefined soy oil320°F160 °C
Unrefined walnut oil320°F160 °C
Hemp seed oil330°F165 °C
Butter350°F177 °C
Semirefined canola oil350°F177 °C
Coconut oil350°F177 °C
Unrefined sesame oil350°F177 °C
Semirefined soy oil350°F177 °C
Vegetable shortening360°F182 °C
Lard370°F182 °C
Macadamia nut oil390°F199 °C
Refined canola oil400°F204 °C
Semirefined walnut oil400°F204 °C
High quality (low acidity) extra virgin olive oil405°F207 °C
Sesame oil410°F210 °C
Cottonseed oil420°F216 °C
Grapeseed oil420°F216 °C
Virgin olive oil420°F216 °C
Almond oil420°F216 °C
Hazelnut oil430°F221 °C
Peanut oil440°F227 °C
Sunflower oil440°F227 °C
Refined corn oil450°F232 °C
Refined high-oleic sunflower oil450°F232 °C
Refined peanut oil450°F232 °C
Refined Safflower oil450°F232 °C
Semirefined sesame oil450°F232 °C
Refined soy oil450°F232 °C
Semirefined sunflower oil450°F232 °C
Olive pomace oil460°F238 °C
Extra light olive oit468°F242 °C
Soybean oil495°F257 °C
Safflower oil510°F266 °C
Avocado oil520°F271 °C
I like cooking with extra light olive oil and butter. This is mainly because olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (73%) while being low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (<10%). The refined nature of extra light olive oil mainly affects taste and smoke point, but does not reduce the nutritional benefits of olive oil. Butter, although high in saturated fat (66%), is low in polyunsaturated (4%) and contains a host of vitamins, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and acids that are antimicrobial and antitumorigenic. Anyway, it tastes good.

posted by Michael Chu @ 6/10/2004 03:15:22 PM   15 comments
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At 2:46 AM, Michael Chu said...

Thanks to Florian for providing the Celcius conversions!

At 6:04 PM, Brian Hayes said...

Methinks that grapeseed oil when it can be purchased at a reasonable price can replace peanut and coconut oils for high heat uses. Your chart shows grapeseed with an adequately high smokepoint for a cooking oil. It is light and drains easily. Some say it actually lowers cholesterol -- opposite the popular deep frying oils.

At 6:12 PM, Brian Hayes said...

Sorry to add this extra comment, but as I thought, most sites report grapeseed oil with a smoke free range from 420F to 485F -- plenty hot. It maintains its healthy properties at the highest cooking temperature (up to 485 degrees F).

No Cholesterol
No Sodium
No Trans-fatty acids
No preservatives
High in Antioxidants
Vitamin E: 11-22mg/serving
Highest concentration of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats of any oil
Lowest level of saturated fat of any oil
72+% Lineolic Acid (Omega 6)
May help increase HDL (good) and reduce LDL (bad) Cholesterol

There is a grapeseed oil fact sheet at

I don;t sell it. I just have learned to use it a lot.

At 10:45 PM, Michael Chu said...

I welcome all comments.

A few comments on your assessment of grapeseed oil:
No Cholersterol, sodium, trans-fatty acids, preservatives - these are true for all pur vegetable oils.

High in antioxidants and vitamin E - yes, grapeseed oil is a good source for vitamin E.

Highest concentration of mono and poly of any oil - untrue. Canola and safflower are two commonly available oils with lower saturated fat. (And in my fats article I note that avoidance of saturated fats may not be a healthful choice. In fact, high consumption of polyunsaturates should be avoided.) Unlike canola oil, grapeseed oil is mostly polyunsaturated.

Almost all of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in grapeseed oil is linoleic acid which is an omega-6 fatty acid. High consumption of omega-6 oils is not recommended as it inhibits the body's ability to process alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) fatty acids. Don't get me wrong, omega-6 is essential, but (at least in the U.S.) we get a large amount of omega-6 in our food already. Supplementing your diet with an 72% omega-6 oil may not be such a good idea.

I'm not familiar with the ability of grapeseed oil to increase HDL and reduce LDL counts. Anyway, I don't take too much stock in the cholesterol hypothesis.

Mary Enig suggests an equal parts combination of coconut oil, sesame oil, and olive oil for frying for maximum health benefits.

I use either extra light olive oil or canola oil for my frying currently as it is difficult for me to purchase other beneficial high heat oils at a price point that I am willing to spend.

At 5:28 AM, Anonymous said...

I am impressed with the smoke point tables and realy the whole site.

I have recently become aware of an oil (widely available) from india called,
"Gingelly Oil" which has nice properties and is inexpensive hoowever takes some practice with getting used to mixing the taste into things. I'm looking for info on this oil if anyone has any???

At 10:05 AM, Shrew said...

Gingelly oil, according to my understanding is just sesame seed oil. It's just called by a different name in India.

At 11:22 AM, Michael P Nugent said...

Someone tell me if I understand this correctly, and comment on how this effects the "healthfulness" of otherwise healthy oils: polyunsaturates, while considered healthy, become trans-fatty at 360 F. If we agree-- and most seem to-- that trans-fat is far less healthy than even saturated fat, then this heat makes sesame, flax, et al less healthy than beef tallow. One is definitely inclined to use a low-poly oil for frying at high temperatures, but these usually don't have the highest smoke points. What then?

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous said...

Can anyone shed any light on Tea Oil used for cooking? It is not very common but apparently from the reports I've read regarding its properties, it seems to be as healthy as olive oil, with an 82% mono fat content, and a low 10% sat fat content. It also boasts a high smoking point and decent levels of Omega-3's. So why is it so uncommon?

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous said...

I was looking at the list for smoke points ofr certain fats, but i did not see duck fat. I was wandering if anyone knoew the smoke point ofr duck fat. I am a chef and I would like to use duck fat as a cooking medium in my deep fat fryer to cook with, especially our house made potato chips. If anyone knows the temperature I would greatly appreciate to get the information. You can contact me by email at Thank you

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous said...

Very interesting info on cooking oil.
How about posting references on scientific information
in general, so it's not just like rumor which gets
so tiresome after seeing it much.
That was the nice thing about Laurel's Kitchen cookbook.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous said...

My name is chris I am a chef in Cincinnati Ohio. I was wondering if there is a chart or formula for the point when the oil lights on fire or flash points. Chris

At 10:11 AM, Rachel Ramey said...

I found the following information at

Duck and Goose Fat – this was used in traditional Jewish cooking, even more so that chicken fat. As with any animal, the omega-3 to omega-6 ratios varies depending on their diet.

· Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio – 13:1
· Omega-3 fatty acids = 0
· Omega-6 fatty acids = 13%
· Omega- 9 fatty acids = 52%
· Saturated Fat = 35%
· Smoke Point = 375 F

At 11:00 PM, anonymous said...

Michael, trans fats are made through the process of hydrogenation. While heating an oil past its smoke point will cause it to break down and oxidize, it DOES NOT cause trans fats. Definately *avoid* shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils! It's a good idea not to cook any oil under high heat circumstances.

At 5:32 PM, ncdave4life said...

Would you please explain to me what it means for oils to be "refined," "semirefined," and "unrefined," or none of the above, and which of these correspond to the stuff you find on the shelf at Kroger and Safeway?

There are apparently huge differences in the characteristics of the oils, depending upon whether or not they are "refined." For example, your chart shows:

Unrefined safflower oil 225°F
Semirefined safflower oil 320°F
Refined Safflower oil 450°F
Safflower oil 510°F

That's an astonishing range of temperatures!


dave263 at

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous said...

do you know what the smokng point for unrefined grapeseed oil and refined grapeseed oil?


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