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Warnings About Buying and Storing Cooking Oils: 8 Tips

Updated on December 11, 2011

About Buying and Storing Cooking Oils

Cooking oils, also known as culinary oils, include such oils as corn oil, olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, and much more. All are easily found everywhere now, not just in fancy gourmet shops or ethnic shops. I can find every type of cooking oil imaginable at my local supermarket.

Some of these oils are used for deep frying, while others may be used for sauteeing or to add flavor to a special salad dressing.

But buying too much oil and not storing it properly is not only wasteful, but more importantly, harmful to your health. There are steps you can take to prevent this.

1- Buy just what you need -

Wine may improve with age but oil does not. Therefore, it is always best to buy in small sizes if you only use a little at a time. However, if you use a lot and purchase in bulk, then plan to take out what you need and put it in a small container. The best materials to use for this small container are stainless steel, tinted glass or porcelain.

2 - Avoid plastic -

Never buy or store your oil in a plastic container. A plastic container can easily absorb PVCs - which are polyvinyl chlorides. A range of toxic chemicals - plasticizers - may have been added to the plastic containers. These chemicals, known as phthalates and adipates, can leak from PVC and into your oil.

Note: While shopping, I grabbed a small bottle of olive oil I had purchased on previous occasions. I didn't realize this hard little bottle was now made of plastic. The difference in taste was immediately noticeable. Not palatable at all.

3 - Store properly -

Often we may store an oil right over the stove so we can grab it when we're cooking. It is best, however, to store oils in a kitchen cabinet far away from the stove and other heat sources. Do not let oil sit on the kitchen counter where it is regularly exposed to indoor light and keep it away from sunlight. This is especially true of olive oil. Most other oils you can store in the refrigerator or in a dry cool place. Additional information should be on the label.

Some oils may thicken or turn cloudy, but if you let them sit at room temperature for a while they will usually return to their natural state. Some may even solidify like coconut oil. This happens to me only during cold weather so I just use it in its solid state.

4 - Oils do have an expiration date -

Oils higher in polyunsaturated fats will keep for about six months. These oils include corn oil (62% polyunsaturated fat), flaxseed oil (72%), sesame seed oil (77%) and hemp seed oil (80%).

Oils higher in mono unsaturated fats will keep for up to a year. These oils include extra virgin olive oil (69% mono unsaturated fat) almond oil (73%), hazelnut oil (76%) and macadamia nut oil (85%).

Note: Unsaturated fats are fats that come from plant sources.

5 - Preventing rancidity -

If you keep oils too long they will not only lose most of their nutritional value, they will also turn rancid. Other causes of rancidity include exposure to air, light and heat. You'll notice the bad smell and taste. Throw it away because it has now become the worst kind of fat for you to eat.

A problem of course is not knowing how long an oil has been sitting on a supermarket shelf. Another reason why it makes sense to buy in small quantities and use quickly.

6 - Smoke points -

The smoke point is when the cooking oil produces a bluish smoke. All the oils have a smoke point and you should not heat an oil beyond this temperature because it is now creating free fatty acids and glycerol. Glycerol is further broken down producing acrolein which causes irritation to the throat and eyes. Both flavor and nutrition begin to degrade. If you are planning on deep frying, which is done at a high temperature, select an oil that has a high smoke point.

For example, refined corn oil, a common choice for deep frying, has a smoke point of 450 degree F. and 232 degrees C. Others for frying include refined peanut oil (450 F/235 C), refined coconut oil (450 F/232 C) and avocado oil (520 F/271 C).

if you heat an oil for too long it will quickly decompose.Try not to preheat oil any longer than necessary. if you're frying food and must keep adding more food to the oil for frying, try to do so as quickly as possible. Then turn off the heat as soon as you're finished frying.

7 - Reusing oil -

if you're planning to reuse the oil, let it cool and then pour it through a sieve into a clean bottle. Do not mix used oil with unused oil. If the oil has reached its smoke point throw it away.

8 - Discarding oil -

Do not pour hot oil down your kitchen drain. Wait until it has cooled and pour it into a container and then throw it away.

For information about oils for cooking, food preparation and more, see the links below:



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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      it is just a thought but you can still use the rancid oil for light in a black out. just like you would an oil candle, just a thought......

    • TheListLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York City

      Moonlake I am from NYC and how well I remember that grease can. My mother, however, was from the South so there is the connection. Fortunately she was also a great southern cook so we ate very well. Yay!

    • moonlake profile image


      5 years ago from America

      Great tips. I from the south and I remember the grease can setting on the stove to be used with every meal. It's a wonder we didn't all die. It was never refrigerated. Voted up.

    • TheListLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York City

      This happens so often Rivieira Rose. And we never really know how old an oil is when we buy it. Sometimes I just buy in the smallest quantities. I suppose we have to find multiple uses. Thanks for commenting!

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 

      5 years ago from South of France

      I'm guilty of buying fancy oils, hardly using them and then realising they've gone rancid... time to mend my ways! Voted up and interesting.

    • TheListLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York City

      You're very welcome urmilashukla! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • urmilashukla23 profile image


      6 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      I love reading your hubs especially food and healthy living section. Thank you miss perfect!

    • TheListLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks so much for commenting CountryCityWOman - glad you found the hub informative! Thanks for the vote!

    • CountryCityWoman profile image


      6 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      Thanks for that tip about plastic. I too have grabbed a small bottle of oil only to find it was a hard plastic. The taste was awful and we really don't need this toxic product. Ugh!

      Great hub and great tips. I never thought about all of this. Whew!

      Rated up!

    • TheListLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome blairtracy!

      Never gave it much thought either BkCreative. I'm just glad I have not destroyed myself in the process. It makes me wonder just how bad the oil is when you eat out. How long has it been used? And did it reach a smoke point. And what kind of oil is it anyway. Whew!

      You're welcome tlpoague!

      Good thing we have hub pages where we can share so much information with other hubbers and beyond.

    • tlpoague profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Great tips for using and storing oil...Thanks! A must bookmark!

    • BkCreative profile image


      6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So usually I just buy cooking oil and plop in on the counter. Or anywhere really. Never gave it any thought about storing or even whether or not it is healthy. I've learned a lot here today. And I have to go along with you 100% - stay away from plastic bottles. I had no idea of the toxicity but it just tastes horrible. Oh, and one more thing, my cousin who loves to cook buys massive amounts of olive oil but he travels all the time and yes that stuff went rancid. I couldn't believe it when he used it to drizzle over a salad - you could smell the rancidity. Argh!

      Thanks a million for a very useful and informative article. Whew! And rated up!

    • blairtracy profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      Oh wow! There is so much I did not know about cooking oils! Thanks for the information.


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