December 12, 2003

Questions About Olive Oil

Back when I first put a website together (actually, it was maybe my second or third homepage) I made this nifty little page on the colors i saw when I pointed a flashlight into a container of olive oil. I still think it's neat, and even though I am always asking questions, I rarely write them down. Perhaps if I did write more of them down, I'd get more answers.

Asking questions is fun. Even when a clear answer does not emerge, you learn something. Sometimes, just forming the question can teach you something about the way you think. It's a common situation at work. Someone is stumped on a problem, but when they go to ask for help, and begin to explain the problem to a coworker, the solution presents itself. The simple act of forming a question or a coherent explanation of the problem reveals things. Perhaps a bad assumption is suddenly realized. The results can be almost magical.

Posted by James at December 12, 2003 10:41 AM
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All grades of olive oil are loaded with some non-oil impurity or other. Extra virgin, which just happens to be the worst to make soap with, is derived from the first pressing and is the cleanest. Second pressing yields virgin olive oil. Next I think are grades A and B. By the time you get to the final pressing (pomace olive oil, which isn't for food), you are really squashing the hell out of the remains and a lot of crap gets in. I think there are even solvents involved.

Other plant oils are also loaded with impurities, but I think olive oil is the most studied/best documented.

If you can get some pomace, try the experiment again. Then give me the oil and I'll make you some soap. :)

Posted by: julie at December 12, 2003 1:26 PM

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