Unlocking Potential: Can I Cook with Hemp Seed Oil? Our study Shows High-Temperature Safety

Using hemp seed oil to cook spinach in a fry pan.


The exact origins of cooking with oil are difficult to pinpoint precisely, as the use of oil for cooking dates back thousands of years. Early human societies likely discovered the use of oil for cooking through experimentation with various plants and animal fats. Today, amidst a plethora of cooking oils available, an intriguing query arises: can I cook with hemp seed oil?

Historically, evidence suggests that ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used olive oil extensively for cooking purposes. Rudimentary extraction methods were by hand (e.g. grinding). The invention of the press marked a turning point, enabling extraction methods to meet the rising demand for edible oils on a large scale. As the need for oil in both household and commercial cooking grew, two primary extraction methods emerged: mechanical and solvent based. 

Mechanical extraction, such as cold-pressing, preserves more nutritional properties but sacrifices versatility and shelf-life. Conversely, solvent extraction, employing hexane, yields oil with a neutral flavor, versatile cooking applications, and an extended shelf-life. 

Amidst this evolution, hemp seed oil emerges as a relative newcomer to the marketplace, its multifaceted functions still unfolding. Although the culinary world has a clear understanding of oils safe for cooking, the exploration of hemp seed oil's potential in the kitchen remains unclear. To delve into this inquiry, we sent 12L of our hemp seed oil to Melbourne University in hopes of uncovering its culinary possibilities.

1. The Journey to Discovery

Could we cook with hemp seed oil? At Hemp & Co, we're all about pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo, and venturing into uncharted territories. So, when faced with the prevailing notion that cooking with hemp seed oil was best avoided, we couldn't help but wonder: was this widely accepted belief truly accurate? 

To unravel this culinary conundrum, we turned to the esteemed experts at the University of Melbourne. Renowned for their pioneering research, we knew they were the perfect partners to help us tackle this burning question: could hemp seed oil safely withstand the heat of the kitchen? We sent 12L of our hemp seed oil to Melbourne University to be put to the test (figure 1). 

To understand the intricacies of our cooking challenge, we'll briefly examine modern oil extraction methods, contrasting them with the traditional cold-pressing technique. This comparison illuminates why cold-pressed oils may not withstand high heat, leading the industry to embrace solvent extraction processes.

Refined Cooking Oils. Solvent extraction.

Historically, oil extraction was primarily manual, a slow process that couldn't keep pace with rising global demand. Consequently, an efficient method had to be devised to meet this growing need. 

A significant challenge for the oil processing industry is preserving the product's quality from processing to consumer use. To mitigate rancidity, oil manufacturers employed hexane, a low-boiling solvent, to extract the more volatile constituents from the oil through a process known as RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized) (figure 2).



Now, why the use of hexane? There are several practical reasons: 

  1. Availability: Solvent extraction ensures a consistent and abundant supply of refined oils, meeting the demands of our kitchens.
  2. Shelf-life Extension: By undergoing the solvent extraction process, these oils gain a longer shelf life, ensuring they remain pantry staples for extended periods.
  3. Versatility: RBD oils possess a neutral flavour and high smoke point, making them adaptable to various cooking methods without overpowering the dish.
  4. Consistency: Solvent extraction allows for precise control over the oil's quality and characteristics, ensuring uniformity batch after batch. 

This pragmatic approach to oil production highlights the industry's focus on efficiency and consistency. Yet, as we peel back the layers, it's essential to consider the trade-offs and alternatives, especially when it comes to preserving the health properties of oils. 

In stark contrast to the mass production of solvent-extracted oil, hemp seed oil stands as a testament to the preservation of nutritional value, and the unparalleled quality of cold-pressed goodness. 

2. Unveiling the Findings

The University of Melbourne's research has yielded groundbreaking insights into the safety of cooking with hemp seed oil. Research and experimentation was conducted over a 12-month period. The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of different heating temperatures. 

The oils were put into the Pyrex glass beakers and heated using an oven (figure 3). Heat treatment of the oil samples was performed in four different temperatures (170°C, 190°C, 210°C, and 230°C) for five different periods (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours).


In order to ensure that the samples reached the target temperature, a food thermometer was utilized to check the temperature of the oils. Following the heating, the oils were allowed to cool down to room temperature. The oil samples were then put into the 50 mL plastic tubes and stored in the freezer (-20°C) until further analyses.

Highlighting the significance of the findings and how they debunk previous misconceptions about hemp seed oil.

Despite the well-documented nutritional benefits of hemp seed oil, its utilization in the food industry remains relatively unexplored, signaling a need for further research. Previous studies predominantly focused on the fatty acid composition of unheated hemp seed oil, overlooking its behaviour under high temperatures. 

While some investigations delved into bioactive minor elements and physicochemical properties, the assessment of rancidity under high heat treatment has been notably absent. 

Recognizing that beneficial fatty acids undergo chemical alterations during high-temperature cooking, this research aimed to evaluate the impact of such conditions on the quality and safety of hemp seed oil.

Through comprehensive analysis, including scrutiny of fatty acid profiles and key physicochemical properties like peroxide and acid values, this study lays a crucial foundation for understanding hemp seed oil's behaviour in high-temperature cooking and its potential implications for human health (figure 4). 

Conclusion: Let's Get Cooking with Confidence! 

And there you have it, fellow hemp oil enthusiasts – the journey from curiosity to confidence in the kitchen. With the groundbreaking findings from the University of Melbourne shedding light on the safety of cooking with our hemp seed oil, we've opened up a world of culinary possibilities. 

Armed with the assurance that our hemp seed oil can withstand the heat of the oven up to 190°C for an hour, courtesy of our dedicated research, you can now dive into your favorite recipes with newfound confidence. 

So, whether you're drizzling, or baking, Hemp & Co's range of hemp seed oils – from Original to Garlic-infused and Chilli-infused – is here to add a flavorful twist to your culinary creations. 

And remember, experimentation is key. If your recipe calls for a higher temperature, simply adjust accordingly and extend the cooking time until perfection is achieved. 

So, grab your apron (and a bottle of our hempseed oil), preheat the oven, and let's embark on a journey of culinary exploration with hemp seed oil as our trusted companion. Here's to cooking with confidence and flavor – let's get started!

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