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What is Pomace Olive Oil?

By Sonal Panse
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Pomace olive oil is a fatty liquid extracted from olives that already have gone through the pressing process. Available in three different grades, it is used in the industrial, beauty and culinary industries. It is not the same as the extra virgin type, and although it does have some health benefits, it can hold carcinogens depending on exactly what happens during extraction and refinement.

Extraction Process

During manufacturing, companies use machines to press as much oil out of the olives as they can. The “first press” produces the high-quality, extra virgin kind that people usually want for cooking. The process is sometimes repeated, but at the end of all presses, companies still have the crushed olives or pomace. This still has between 3 – 8 percent oil left inside, so workers add a solvent, usually Hexane, to chemically remove what’s left over. A refining and mixing process often follows.


The International Olive Council separates this product into three distinct retail grades: crude, refined and olive pomace. The first type typically is meant for industrial use and really shouldn’t be eaten as it is. The second kind is one level higher, having had some of the impurities taken out. It’s technically defined as having an acidity of 0.3 grams per 100 grams. The last grade, which is a blend of refined and virgin oils, has an acidity of 1 gram per 100 grams. Even though it is sold for consumption, it has to be labeled clearly, because IOC does not include products obtained through solvents in the strict definition of olive oil.

Use in Cooking

Individuals commonly use high-grade versions of pomace olive oil in cooking. Some people prefer it because it has a very high smoke point of 464° Fahrenheit (240° Celsius), making it especially good for frying. Many chefs and connoisseurs don’t like it, however, because it doesn’t have the aroma or strong flavor of the higher grades available, although the mildness can be a good thing in cuisines where strong olive taste might clash with other ingredients. IOC stresses the difference between extra virgin and consumption-quality pomace oils, emphasizing that, even though both are edible, they aren’t substitutes for each other, with buyers making a selection based on exactly how and what they intend to cook.


Pomace olive oil is an ingredient in many skin, hair and other cosmetic products. Companies use it to make mild, creamy soaps, for example. It is common in hair conditioners, as well, because it coats the hair strands easily, protecting them from moisture loss and damage while adding shine. People also sometimes apply it to their skin to treat dryness and minor inflammation. Some individuals claim that it keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay, because it keeps the skin from losing too much water to the environment, thereby keeping cells nice and plump.

Other Uses

Olive pomace oil sometimes is used as a carrier in aromatherapy products or as a fuel in lamps. The industrial grades are used mainly as lubricants, although it sometimes is mixed into products. Some people also use it for cleaning, such as removing residue from grills.

Health Benefits

For those looking for the most health benefits, extra virgin wins out. It is higher in antioxidants, which are substances that fight damage from free radicals. The fat composition of both products is very similar, however, containing roughly 10% saturated fat — the kind linked to heart disease — and 80% mono-unsaturated fat. Even though it is extracted in much the same way as other options such as canola or sunflower oils, it has a higher level of oleanolic acid, which experts think might relieve high blood pressure, hypertension and arthritis inflammation.

Health Concerns

In some circles, this product is considered dangerous because of the extraction and refinement process. After the solvent is added, manufacturers have to get rid of it, so they evaporate it with heat. In a good system, the temperature doesn’t get above 194° Fahrenheit (90° Celsius), and the risk of any contamination is extremely low. When heat rises to 572° Fahrenheit (300° Celsius) or more, however, the fats liquefy and drip out, but the oil partially combusts, forming compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Experts believe these compounds can cause cancer.

Understanding that the real problem here is the intense heat, not all versions have high levels of carcinogens. Typically, those that do are made by companies that are trying to speed up extraction and refinement to save money. A person who wants to be certain of quality and safety can read product labels, direct questions to manufacturer representatives or look into the results of tests done by local, state or national organizations.


Olive pomace oil should be kept in an airtight, dark container so that it doesn’t go rancid. Experts say that a temperature around 57° Fahrenheit (13.9° Celsius) is ideal. Refrigeration can slow oxidation, although it might cause the product to get a little cloudy or solidify. Storing it at room temperature — around 70° Fahrenheit (21° Celsius) — is generally fine.

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Discussion Comments
By anon343254 — On Jul 28, 2013

We have the scare crews about. Pomace oil is fine. It's actually just as good in cosmetics. If we are having a go, then there are five or six virgin oils better than olive in every sense. For god's sake stop scare mongering. It's still bloody olive oil. It's from olives!

Chill out everyone. The nutty flavor might not be as good as with virgin oil, and it can be a little more bitter, but that's it!

By discographer — On Jan 21, 2013

I personally think that there is no need for pomace olive oil. Even for cosmetic products like soaps and lotions, healthy olive oil should be used. After all, our skin is an organ too and it will absorb the nutrients put on it.

Olive oil might cost a lot but it's better than something made from olive cake and petroleum solvent, don't you think?

By turquoise — On Jan 20, 2013

@turkay1-- I agree with you. Pomace olive oil is refined. Everyone knows that something that is refined is not as good as the unrefined.

If we went by that mentality, we shouldn't be using white flour or white sugar either.

By candyquilt — On Jan 19, 2013

@anon250234-- Pomace olive oil is not bad, there is no such thing that it shouldn't be consumed.

I think what the article was trying to get across is that pomace oive oil is not as nutrient rich as regular or virgin olive oil. So if someone is looking to eat olive oil for these nutrients, then pomace olive oil is not the best olive oil.

Pomace can absolutely be used for cooking. It's much better than corn oil for things like baking and frying in my opinion. Ideally, I would use virgin olive oil for frying, but not only is it expensive but the flavor can be too strong. Pomace olive oil on the other hand, is affordable and has a lighter flavor. So it's perfect for frying.

Please, people! Don't throw out your bottle of pomace olive oil just because it's not as good as virgin olive oil. They both have their place in the kitchen.

By anon298617 — On Oct 21, 2012

Is pomace olive oil safe for the patients with a hep.B infection and lenier liver cirrhosis?

By anon280235 — On Jul 16, 2012

I wasn't aware of this product's reputation. I am used to using this oil for baking frying and such like, but now I'm not sure what to do with it.

By anon250234 — On Feb 25, 2012

You shouldn't eat it but slathering it on your largest organ (your skin) is A-OK? Give me a break.

By anon249965 — On Feb 23, 2012

It may not be the worst for you, but would you chance it?

By anon240101 — On Jan 12, 2012

Olive oil is not an essential oil.

By anon166380 — On Apr 08, 2011

The Hexane is used as a solvent to extract the olive oil, but it does not remain in it, is taken apart from the olive oil. So, it contains no petroleum solvents.

By anon146263 — On Jan 25, 2011

If It was toxic, they wouldn't sell it in all the grocery stores. It's not the best, but certainly not the worst! Anyone tried crisco or lard lately? I wouldn't be worried if you cooked with it. Those midnight cravings of ice cream or cake have way more toxins than a little oil.

By anon144059 — On Jan 18, 2011

I wouldn't worry about it too much -- that is a worst case scenario. If you deal in bulk, I suggest getting in touch with one of those huge suppliers that has a trustworthy reputation, like Centra Foods or Portofino Foods (not sure if Portofino is still around).

Ask their customer service these same questions and they'll be able to give you the straight truth. Hope this helps.

By anon121533 — On Oct 25, 2010

Is it safe to use pomace oil directly on skin without mixing with vegetable oil? I have been using pomace oil since childhood as moisturizer. Now i am bit worried since it contains petroleum solvents.

By anon108139 — On Sep 01, 2010

I just bought pomace olive oil last night and marinated chicken in it. I was looking for cheaper alternatives to EVOO and found that one. After reading this, I'm kind of scared. this is the first time that I'll be eating something with pomace olive oil. would it be so bad for my health?

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