Colza oil or colza is a non-drying oil obtained from the seeds of rapeseed (Brassica napus subsp. napus.[1] syn. Brassica campestris subsp. napus (L.) Hook.f. & T. Anderson).[2] Colza is extensively cultivated in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark (especially on the island of Bornholm), and Poland. In France and Denmark, especially, the extraction of the oil is an important industry. In commerce, colza is a traditional rapeseed oil (with turnip rape oil, Sarson oil, toria oil (Brassica rapa ssp.), and ravison oil),[3] to which they are very closely allied in both source and properties. It is a comparatively nonodoriferous oil of a yellow colour, having a specific gravity varying between 0.912 and 0.920. The cake left after extraction of the oil is a valuable feed ingredient for pigs and cattle.[4]

Colza cultivation in Germany


Colza oil is extensively used as a lubricant for machinery. It was widely used in European domestic lighting before the advent of coal (city) gas or kerosene. It was the preferred oil for train pot lamps, and was used for lighting railway coaches in the United Kingdom before gas lighting, and later electric lighting, were adopted. Burned in a Carcel lamp, it was part of the definition of the French standard measure for illumination, the carcel, for most of the nineteenth century. In lighthouses, for example in early Canada, colza oil was used before the introduction of mineral oil. The colza oil was used with the Argand burner because it was cheaper than whale oil.[5] Colza was burned to a limited extent in the Confederacy during the American Civil War.[6]

Colza oil was used in Gombault's Caustic Balsam,[7] a popular horse and human liniment at the turn of the 20th century.

Among the more unusual applications of colza oil is the calming of choppy seas, where the oil modifies the surface tension of the water and rapidly smooths the surface. For this purpose, colza oil was carried in ship's lifeboats.[8][better source needed]

More recently, colza has been cultivated in Europe as an ingredient for biodiesel fuels, and is the primary source of biodiesel in Germany.[citation needed]

Colza oil is also used as a food oil. Bornholm, Denmark is the only place to produce rapeseed oil from the seed's germ.[citation needed]

Spanish rape seed poisoning outbreakEdit

In 1981, there was an oil poisoning outbreak, later known as toxic oil syndrome[9] that was attributed to people consuming what they thought was olive oil but turned out to be rapeseed cooking oil that had been denatured with 2% aniline (phenylamine). The substance was intended for industrial use but had been adulterated and illegally sold as olive oil, mainly in street markets, mostly in the Madrid area.[10][11]


Rapeseed oil obtained as an experiment. Buryatia, Russia
Country Production, 2018
1   Canada 4,117,880
2   China 3,643,200
3   Germany 3,146,176
4   India 2,475,000
5   France 1,782,700
6   Poland 1,190,000
7   Japan 1,025,891
8   United Kingdom 832,900
9   United States 717,000
10   Belgium 645,100
Source : FAOSTAT

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Vegetable substances: materials of manufactures, Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 1833, p. 204-205
  2. ^ Ref. GRIN
  3. ^ Jan Velíšek, "colza" The Chemistry of Food, Wiley, 2014, p. 102
  4. ^   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Colza Oil". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 748.
  5. ^ "USQUE AD MARE - Early Lights - Canadian Coast Guard". 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  6. ^ Mallett, John W. "How the South got chemicals during the war". Southern Historical Society Papers. 31: 101.
  7. ^ "Gombaults". Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2010-03-14. Note that the ingredients listed in this link are similar to, but not the same as, the list on the actual bottle.
  8. ^ "Oil Tested in Storms at Sea". The New York Times. 1893-03-04. Retrieved 2010-03-14. Attached to a canvas sea-anchor was another small punctured canvas bag that was filled with Colza oil. When the sea-anchor was streamed, especially in high seas, the wind and wave action would blow the boat downwind leaving the sea-anchor up to windward where the leaking oil would effectively smooth the approaching waves. oilnews
  9. ^ Gelpí, E.; de la Paz, M. P.; Terracini, B.; Abaitua, I.; de la Cámara, A. G.; Kilbourne, E. M.; Lahoz, C.; Nemery, B.; Philen, R. M.; Soldevilla, L.; Tarkowski, S. (May 2002). "The Spanish toxic oil syndrome 20 years after its onset: a multidisciplinary review of scientific knowledge". Environmental Health Perspectives. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 110 (5): 457–464. doi:10.1289/ehp.110-1240833. PMC 1240833. PMID 12003748.
  10. ^ "Factbox: Fake olive oil scandal that caused Spain's worst food poisoning epidemic in 1981". Reuters. 2021-10-19.
  11. ^ Westfall,Sammy (October 19, 2021). "Victims of a 1981 mass cooking-oil poisoning occupy Madrid museum". Washington Post.