One of the great mysteries of our time

It is really cold in Wellington at the moment. It’s really cold in our kitchen, which brings us to the so called great mystery of our time. Oil. More to the point, the difference between oils at cold temperatures.

Sitting on the bench, there are three bottles of oil. Olive, sesame and peanut. The olive and sesame oils are in opaque containers, and as such are hard to observe. The peanut oil, on the other hand, is in a clear glass bottle. At the moment, the contents of said bottle are an opaque shade of yellow; not dissimilar to lemon juice (And since the others are in opaque containers, it’s, well, hard to tell).

Sitting in the cupboard, there is the rest of the peanut oil in a clear plastic bottle; which has also turned to the colour and opacity of lemon juice. However, also lurking in the cupboard are three small bottles of flavoured oil (lemon, chilli and garlic from prenzel); and another larger bottle of basil infused olive oil. The flavoured oils, are all transparent.

So the mystery is this: are the flavoured oils clear because they are flavoured, or because their base oil is chemically different in some way which allows the oils to stay clear at lower temperatures?

My hunch, is that there is some kind of inverse relationship between smoke point and “turn opaque in cold” point. If I was more dedicated to science (and if the kitchen wasn’t so cold that oil was turning opaque), I’d experiment (:

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