Monday, December 7, 2009

Sweet almond oil

Sweet almond oil (INCI: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis oil) is a light, odourless, pale yellow oil with a 12 month shelf life. It contains 3 to 9% palmitic acid (C16), 2% palmitoleic acid (C16:1), 3% stearic acid (C18), 60 to 78% oleic acid (C18:1), 10 to 30% linoleic acid (C18:2), and 2% linolenic acid (C18:3). It contains 164 ppm tocopherol and about 58.1 ppm cholesterol.

As a high oleic oil, sweet almond offers moisturizing, softening, and regenerating properties, and can act as an anti-inflammatory ingredient. The linoleic acid can help to restore barrier repair of our skin, and should help with dry or itchy skin.

It is hard to find good information about sweet almond oil. In my research, I came across all kinds of wonderful things said about sweet almond oil that I could not substantiate. It does apparently contain B-sitosterol (a phytosterol), which is a known anti-inflammatory and can help with barrier repair, but I couldn't find a single piece of information confirming the Vitamin A which it is supposed to contain.

Sweet almonds are used in cooking and baking in the form of nougat, macaroons, and marzipan (I'm drinking marzipan tea right now!) and it can be used as a laxative at 30 mL per dose.

What we do know about sweet almond oil is that it is a light oil with a long shelf life. It offers all the benefits of oleic and linoleic acids, and it is a good moisturizer that doesn't feel too heavy or greasy. It can be substituted for any other light oil for feel, and for the high oleic acid oils, like olive oil, for the same benefits with a lighter feel.

I will admit I don't use sweet almond oil very much in my formulating - you probably haven't noticed, but if you do a search for sweet almond oil, I think this will be one of the only posts containing the phrase and there aren't any recipes with this ingredient. I'm not really sure why...I think I just found other oils that offered the same benefits for a lower cost or offered more in the way of phytosterols and polyphenols and all the rest of the anti-inflammatory and moisturizing benefits I want in my products. And I'm slightly addicted to using fractionated coconut oil as a light oil!

You can substitute sweet almond oil for virtually any light oil, but the closest oils to its fatty acid profile are hazelnut or camellia oil, both of which are high oleic but dry feeling oils. Sweet almond doesn't feel dry, so if you've made products with either of these oils but want a bit more oiliness, substitute in the sweet almond oil and you've got yourself a nice emollient! And it's a great substitute for the more expensive fractionated coconut oil.

Sweet almond oil is a good massage oil as it offers a long shelf life and extended time to rub it in. You can make a nice massage oil with 98% sweet almond oil, 1% fragrance or essential oil, and 1% Vitamin E. (It doesn't contain a lot of Vitamin E, so it's nice to add it with this oil.) Unlike fractionated coconut oil or sesame oil, though, it does not come with a guarantee it won't stain fabrics, so use it when this isn't a concern!

Because it is tasteless, it's a great addition to lipsticks and lip balms - try it instead of the liquid paraffin in this recipe or in place of the 10% fractionated coconut oil in this recipe.

And because it is odourless, it won't interfere with fragrances in a solid or oil based perfume. Substitute it for the fractionated coconut oils in these recipes.

Have fun formulating with sweet almond oil!


ChristineMM said...

Every time I buy sweet almond oil it goes rancid pretty quickly (stored in a dark closet in air conditioning).

You say it has a long shelf life. I would disagree. I got curious and read a chart of shelf life of oils. The shortest are 6 months to 1 year. Sweet Almond Oil is 1 year on the chart and you said the same in your post here.

Other oils are 1-2 years and coconut oil is 2-4 years.

Not looking to get into a debate but it seems to me when looking at oils to use from a range of 6 months to 4 years if an oil lasts 1 year that is not "a long shelf life". It is on the shorter side.

I also find the apricot kernel oil goes rancid quickly.

Perhaps an issue is when we buy it, it has already sat on a shelf for who knows how long, making it older than we can ever know.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi ChristineMM! Welcome to the blog! A year long shelf life is a long time for vegetable and seed oils. Most oils are good for up are one year - which ones are you seeing claimed to be up to two years that aren't solid oils or butters? (For instance, I've seen it claimed grapeseed oil can last a year. It is known that it's shelf life is 3 months, maybe 6, due to its fatty acid composition.)

The only oils we can reliably say have a shelf life of more than two years are mineral oils and their derivatives. (Butters and solid oils should be up to two years.) I've never read anything that claims that any natural oils can last that long. I've never seen coconut oils listed as more than two years. Can you send me your references and sites as I'm curious what new information they might have found!

As an aside, you might want to consider your supplier. I have bought oils that last far far longer than they should from my local supplier, Voyageur Soap & Candle, which is quite opposite your experience!

Amy Escobar said...

So what oil do you prefer to almond oil?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Honestly? Just about all of them. I prefer oils high in linoleic acid, like pumpkin seed, rice bran, or sesame. If I'm going for a high oleic acid oil, I'd choose macadamia nut, hazel nut, or olive oil

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