Smoke point matters: how to pick the right cooking oil (and why it makes a difference)

We’re pretty sure you’ve been there: sizzling delicious salmon, steak or stir fry when suddenly you’re greeted by an unpleasant plume of smoke. The smell permeates your entire kitchen (not to mention your nostrils). While you hit that extractor fan and open the windows, you may be tempted to curse your equipment, question your cooking temperature or doubt your dinner choice… but the truth is, none of those things are at fault. If your cooking oil could handle high heat, there wouldn’t be smoke in the first place.


What’s happened has everything to do with a little something called a ‘smoke point’. Every cooking fat (oil, butter, lard) has one – and they’re all slightly different. 

So how do you know when you’ve hit an oil’s smoke point? Well, when smoke becomes visible in the pan or oven. Simply put, the higher the smoke point, the higher you can up the heat without the oil starting to smoke. Healthy Oil’s smoke point – also known as a ‘burning point’ –  is the hardest to reach: at 270°C, it can withstand higher temperatures than any other natural oil.


Smoke points have a direct impact on both flavour and nutrition. That’s because when oils are heated past their smoke points, they start to break down. That smoke you see is, quite literally, a smoke signal. 

It indicates the release of the chemical acrolein (which gives burnt food its characteristic bitter aroma and taste) and also – rather importantly – marks the stage at which the fat’s nutrients start to degrade. It’s a flag for the release of toxins and free radical compounds, which, in large amounts, are linked to all sorts of potentially dangerous health conditions. 


Smoke points are set by the chemical composition of the oil – in particular its fatty makeup – and whether or not it’s been refined. Unrefined oils (those that go straight from the press to the bottle), and especially unrefined oils of a low quality, have higher levels of free fatty acids. The higher the level of free fatty acids, the lower the smoke point. Refining, on the other hand, removes an oil’s impurities and some free fatty acids. This results in an oil with a higher smoke point.



Knowing more about the makeup of certain oils and what that means for your cooking can help you make healthier choices in the kitchen – the more you plan on turning up the temperature, the better it is to use an oil with a high smoke point. And if you’re looking for an oil that can stand *all* the heat, Healthy Oil’s the one for you: pure cooking oil made entirely from avocados. Its sky-high smoke point – 270°C! – is the highest amongst natural oils. It’s unique.


Picking the right cooking oil for the job depends entirely on what you plan on eating. You may be cooking a specific cuisine and want your oil to complement the meal (think sesame oil for Asian-inspired dishes) or perhaps you’d like a full-flavoured salad dressing, in which case feel free to go for extra virgin olive oil. But if you’re on a mission to roast, deep-fry, stir-fry or BBQ, you should make sure your oil can handle the heat. 

Healthy Oil’s just the ticket: its high smoke point means you can cook at temperatures up to 270°C without forfeiting taste or nutrition. Plus, it’s filled with antioxidants, omegas, vitamin E, and unsaturated fats. All the essentials to keep your body singing. 

Care about eating healthy without sacrificing taste? ‘Course you do. Join the Soilmates community, and sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Got a question about nutrition? Cooking at high heat? Healthy Oil? We love it.
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