Category Archives: Soap Making Supplies

A Short Comparison Between Canola and “Vegetable” Oil

Canola… Or Vegetable oil. This darn grocery list doesn’t specify which, and the wife’s phone is off. Maybe you could get this snazzy looking sunflower seed oil. Or maybe… No, no. You’ve never heard or used any of these other oils. You need to choose between canola or vegetable.

You, however, don’t know what in the world the difference between the two is. And frankly, most of us don’t. At least, not scientifically. We should get the basics out of the way first before we look at what’s different.

Canola oil comes from the canola plant (surprising!). The canola plant was developed over a period of time back in the 1970s in Canada, being bred specifically for its oil. A fun tidbit is that canola is really just genetically modified rapeseed, but was named canola to avoid the media negativity of the word ‘rape’. Rapeseed has been consistently used throughout the ages as burning fuel for lamps or lubricant for steam engines in Europe. It has a high acidity and is not suitable for human consumption, and there was an extreme lack of demand for rapeseed after the end of World War II when lubricants were no longer a large necessity of the war effort.

So that brings us to why canola exists. Canola is the safe version of rapeseed for human consumption (as well as livestock consumption) by reducing the amount of acid inside the oil, bringing it to an enjoyable level for most animals. It provided a new use for the surplus of rapeseed in Canada and turned it from a speciality crop into something that is widely grown in several countries.

What is vegetable oil, then? This depends on the manufacturer. See, vegetable oil can be any number of oils. It can be a mixture of oils or it can actually be a specific oil but merely labelled as vegetable. In most instances, bottles of vegetable oil are actually filled with soybean oil. Be sure to look at the ingredients the next time you’re in the grocery store!

Now that we know what both canola oil and vegetable oil are, what is the difference between the two of them?

I’m afraid to say that this was a long build up for an anti-climatic ending. There isn’t much difference between the two of them except their fat contents, which canola oil wins in. When comparing tablespoons, you will find that both canola and vegetable oil have 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. You will find that both work perfectly for a deep fryer and that both are a better choice than other oils such as olive oil or safflower oil.

Canola oil wins in the health department by a very small amount, but this difference is negligible when taking into account that you will probably not be consuming very much oil and this will ultimately boil down to a preference of taste. A taste that you obviously don’t know about since you’re buying it for someone else.

Your wife should really turn her phone on. This aisle is so lonely.