Rapeseed (Brassica Napus) or rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed is the bright yellow flowering plant grown in swathes all over the U.K. It is grown for its oil which is obtained from the tiny black seeds. It grows very well and is the only reliable vegetable oil crop we can produce in large quantities.

And yet it is new to our landscape and our diet. Before vegetable oils became popular and we bagan importing them in large quantities, most of our fat came from animal sources in the form of lard.

While rapeseed has long been grown as soil conditioning crop it was not harvested for oil because the older strains of plant contain around 40% of erucic acid. Euric acid is extremely toxic. Not suprisingly these strains were banned and some desperate genetic modifying went on. The old sort. Plants were cross bred with each other till the erucic acid was reduced to less than one per cent

“In 1977 a law was also brought in limiting the erucic acid content of foods to no more than 5 per cent of the total fatty acid content in products that contain more than 5 per cent fat. In truth however, most British produced cold pressed rapeseed oils contain less than 0.5 per cent.

Quick rapeseed facts…

The oil comes from the seed.
It is used in food and cosmetic products.
Also as lubricants, penetrating oils, fuel, soap, biofuel and paints
It has emollient and potential anti-oxidant properties for the skin (Source: British Journal of Nutrition, May 2002, pages 489–499).
it is found in facial moisturizer/treatment, bar soap, anti-aging products, body wash/cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, moisturizers, facial cleansers and baby soaps
It is generally classified as non-toxic or harmful. Even the EWG says so.
is also called ‘Canola’ which stands for Canadian Oil, Low Acid.

Extracting The Oil

Solvent extraction
Most commercially produced oils are solvent extracted. This involves a chemical solvent like the petroleum-derived hexane and heat up to 500 degrees. Once the oil is dissolved, the solvent is removed by distillation.
This technique is used for most of the “newer” oils such as soybean and cannola oils. Many of these products do not give up their oil easily, it has to be forced from them.
For this reason I would reccomend you go for a cold pressed oil. Read about the importance of cold pressing here

Buy Oil

Plastic Spoiler
It is available in supermarkets (certainly Tesco’s), in glass bottles with plastic lids and security seals. I have yet to find it plastic free but like the fact it is grown and processed in the U.K.

You can buy it in 5 liter cans online.


Go back to the oil index to find out about the plastic free oils and butters we use

Leave a Reply