Since cotton seed oil was first extracted from cotton seeds in the 1860s, there have been a variety of uses discovered. According to researchers at the National Cottonseed Products Association, cotton seed has a bland taste that does not mask the flavor of foods in which it's cooked. Cotton seed oil is cholesterol-free and high in antioxidants.
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Since cotton seed oil is flavorless, it makes an ideal option for frying. The oil is used in stir-fry dishes, for frying snack foods and seafood, vegetables and Asian food. Cotton seed oil produces full-flavored potato chips that are not masked with oily residue. Cotton seed oil can be used in place of any vegetable oil in recipes as well. Consumers use it in commercial applications as well as in the home.
Cotton seed oil is used to make margarine, mayonnaise, sauces, salad dressing and marinades. In its hardened form as margarine or shortening, cotton seed oil can be used for baked goods as well as for spreads on those same baked goods such as bread and muffins. When heavily refined, cotton seed oil is nearly clear and provides very little taste, serving mainly as a catalyst for holding ingredients together. Less refining can leave a light, nutty taste to the oil, often preferred for salad dressings. Many products aimed at health-conscious consumers are made with cotton seed oil because it contains fewer saturated fats. Cotton seed oil ranks high among healthier oils, including corn, sunflower and soybean oil.
Cotton seed oil provides a lasting, thick lather when used in soap, report soap makers at Saratoga Scents. Cotton seed oil also has emollient properties that can smooth and soften rough skin. Soap-makers recommend using soap that contains no more than 25 percent cotton seed oil because of its tendency to spoil. Like other oils used in soaps, cotton seed oil can leave skin soft and silky, report cosmeticians at Skin Care Tips. Cotton seed is an inexpensive additive that can be added to soap to provide lather and oil, so it often provides a good option for those looking for inexpensive beauty products. Cotton seed, however, can contain high levels of pesticides if not treated sufficiently, and can cause skin irritation. Cotton seed oil often is found in all-natural products at health food stores and should not be used by people with sensitive skin.