RAPE OIL, an important fatty oil, known also as " sweet oil," either expressed or extracted from the crushed seeds of cultivated varieties of the cruciferous genus Brassica, the parent form of the whole apparently being the wild navew, B. campestris. Under the general name " rape oil " is included the produce of several plants having distinct and fairly constant characters, and one of these oils colza (q.v.) is a very wellknown commercial variety. In Germany, where the production of rape oil centres, two principal oil-seeds rape and Rubsen are well recognized. (See RAPE.)
The oil yielded by these seeds is, in physical and chemical properties, practically the same, the range of fluctuations not being greater than would be found in the oil of any specific seed under similar varying conditions of production; the winter varieties of all the seeds are more productive than the summer varieties. Newly pressed rape oil has a dark sherry colour with, at first, scarcely any perceptible smell; but after resting a short time the oil deposits an abundant mucilaginous slime, and by taking up oxygen it acquires a peculiar disagreeable odour and an acrid taste. Refined by the ordinary processes (see OILS), the oil assumes a clear golden yellow colour. In specific gravity it ranges between 0-9112 and 0-9117 in the raw state, and from 0.9127 to 0.9136 when refined; the solidifying point is from -4 to -6 C.
The principal uses of rape oil are for lubrication and lighting - but since the introduction of mineral oils for both these purposes' the importance of rape has considerably decreased. It is but little employed in soap-making, as it saponifies with difficulty and yields only an indifferent product. In Germany it is very considerably used as a salad oil under the name of Schmalzol, being for that purpose freed from its biting taste by being mixed with starch heated till the starch is carbonized, and filtered after the oil has cooled. The offensive taste of rape oil may also be removed by treatment with a small proportion of sweet spirit of nitre (nitrous ether). In the East Indies rape oil and its equivalents, known under various names, are the most important of oils for native use They are largely consumed as food instead of ghi under the name of metah " or sweet oil, but for all other purposes the same substance is known as " kurwah " or bitter oil. Most natives prefer it for the preparation of their curries and other hot dishes. Rape oil is the subject of extensive adulteration, principally with the cheaper hemp oil, rosin oil and mineral oils. These sophistications can be most conveniently detected, first by taste and next by saponification, rosin oil and mineral oil remaining unsaponified, hemp oil giving a greenish soap, while rape oil yields a soap with a yellow tinge. With concentrated sulphuric acid, fuming nitric acid, nitrous acid, and other reagents rape oil gives also characteristic colorations; but these are modified according to the degree of purity of the oil itself. The presence of sulphur in rape and other cruciferous oils also affords a ready means for their identification. Lead plaster (emplaslrum lithargyri) boiled in rape oil dissolves, and, sulphide of lead being formed, the oil becomes brown or black. Other lead compounds give the same black coloration from the formation of sulphide.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)