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Pure Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are the non-volatile, generally liquid fats found in various nuts, seeds and legumes. They are also referred to as ‘fixed’ oils (they will not evaporate) and ‘base’ or ‘carrier’ oils (they are perfectly suited for the addition of essential oils).

All vegetable oils and animal fats primarily consist of triglycerides. A triglyceride consists of three (tri) fatty acids combined with one molecule of glycerine. The major difference between animal fats and various vegetable oils are the type of fatty acids found in the oil.

Types of Fatty Acids

There are three classes of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

  • saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between adjacent carbon atoms – they are saturated with hydrogen atoms. These fatty acids are most common in hard animal fats and vegetable fats such as cocoa butter. They are the most resistant to oxidation (rancidity)
  • Monounsaturates have one (mono) double bond. They oxidise relatively slowly.
  • Polyunsaturates have two or more (poly) double bonds between carbon atoms. These are the fatty acids that oxidise (or go rancid) most quickly.

Mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids make up the highest proportion of liquid vegetable oils.

Pure vegetable oils also contain varying small amounts of natural waxes, sterols, lecithin, vitamins (especially Vitamin E) and on.

The Processing of Vegetable Oils

There are two basic varieties of processing – virgin and refined.

Virgin vegetable oils are also known as unrefined oils. In this case, the nuts or seeds are expeller pressed (also known as cold pressed) and the resulting oil is simply filtered before bottling. Virgin oils contain all the oily compounds in the seeds – the oil (triglyceride) itself, along with lecithin, vitamins, waxes, etc. In terms of benefits to the skin (and in our diet), we can say that expeller pressed virgin oils are the highest quality, because of the presence of the additional compounds found in the oil.

However, with some virgin vegetable oils, these additional compounds will produce an oil that is quite dark in colour, with an unpleasant odour and somewhat ‘sticky’ feel on the skin. Hence, virgin vegetable oils such as Grapeseed, Safflower and Wheatgerm are not generally used for massage or skin care applications because of these issues.

Refined vegetable oils can go through a number of processing steps. The least expensive supermarket variety vegetable oils are firstly solvent extracted (using hexane), as this removes a higher proportion of the oil than expeller pressing alone. The resulting oil has hexane residues removed and then put through a variety of refining processes including degumming, bleaching, deodourising and on. The total refining process removes much of the additional, beneficial compounds in the oil, such as lecithin and vitamins. The result is a light coloured oil with low odour and taste.

We prefer vegetable oils that have been expeller pressed (instead of solvent extracted) and if necessary, only lightly refined, so that the majority of the odour compounds and compounds that can case cause ‘tackiness’ have been removed.

Such vegetable oils, as with our pure Sweet Almond oil, are excellent for massage and skin care applications. A good combination for massage applications is the use of virgin and refined oils together, as in the case of our Organic Massage Blend, with the best of both worlds.

Quality Assurance

As with all Essential Therapeutics products, we source the highest quality vegetable oils from local and overseas growers. We then extensively test these oils for authenticity and freshness.

We store our vegetable oils under nitrogen to prevent oxidation, giving you the freshest possible product.

Our Quality Assurance procedures ensure that you receive the highest quality product, suitable for massage therapy, aromatherapy and natural, regenerative skin care.

Quality Assurance – fatty acid profiles of some selected vegetable oils

Fatty acid %




Palmi- toleic





Insaponi- fiacable



6 - 8










4 - 12









6 - 9


2 - 3

10 -16

50 - 70

15 – 25, with up to 2% GLA












Rose Hip







Note: Many vegetable oils, especially virgin or unrefined oils, will develop a cloudy appearance in cold weather. This is due to some of the oil components beginning to ‘freeze’ and does reverse upon warming. Certain oils, especially Virgin Avocado, can contain varying amounts of natural waxes. This is simply a natural variation that can change to batch to batch.

Storage and Shelf Life

All fatty acids in vegetable oils are prone to rancidity (oxidation). Saturated fatty acids, as in coconut oil fractions (in our Super Fine Massage Blend) and Cocoa Butter, are the least susceptible to oxidation, while highly  polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as Rose Hip and Evening Primrose will oxidise the most quickly. Jojoba oil is not a triglyceride oil, but a liquid wax. It is very stable and will not go rancid over time.

All of our Essential Therapeutics vegetable oils have a realistic ‘use by’ date on the label and are bottled in either pharmaceutical amber glass bottles or opaque metal tins. This use by date is based on common usage and storage. You can expect your oils to stay fresh if you store them in a cool, dark place, keeping the containers tightly closed. Oxygen in the air reacts with the oils to create rancidity and this process is sped up by exposure to light and heat. Rancid oils lose their benefits and are not recommended to be used on the skin – or for food purposes.

You can extend the shelf life of your oils further by keeping them in the coolest, darkest place – the refrigerator.

The highly polyunsaturated Essential Fatty Acid vegetable oils will definitely keep best if stored in the refrigerator – and better again if stored in the freezer. Even in the freezer, these EFA oils will remain liquid.

Lastly, you can add our Amiox antioxidant to any of your vegetable oils. Amiox is our unique Rosemary CO2 extract (see below) that is a potent antioxidant, as strong as the common synthetic antioxidant, BHT. Antioxidants are helpful because these molecules ‘mop up’ oxygen and free radicals much more readily than the fatty acids in the oil.

Uses and Applications:  In contrast to using greasy, inert petrochemical-derived mineral oil (or ‘baby oil’), natural vegetable oils offer a host of benefits in regenerative skin care and in helping many common skin conditions. Vegetable oils are very compatible with our own skin – our own ‘skin oil’ (sebum) is primarily composed of the same triglycerides. Vegetable oils represent a perfect diluting base (or ‘carrier’) for essential oils, where any amount of essential oil can be added to create a simple and effective formulation for application to the skin. By understanding the different beneficial properties of vegetable oils, you can combine any number of different oils (or use our vegetable oil blends) to suit any number of skin conditions. Pure vegetable oils are the best natural ingredients to use in creating your own creams and lotions for truly regenerative skin care.


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