Macadamia oil

A bottle and dish of macadamia oil

Macadamia oil (or macadamia nut oil) is the non-volatile oil expressed from the nut meat of the macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) tree, a native Australian nut. Macadamia oil is sometimes used in food as a frying or salad oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient or fragrance fixative.

Physical properties

Macadamia integrifolia

Macadamia nuts contain over 75% of their weight as oil, the remainder is: 9.0% proteins, 9.3% carbohydrates, 1.5% moisture, 1.6% mineral matters and 2.0% fiber. The kernels of macadamia contain vitamin A1, B1, B2, niacin and essential elements such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. The oil is a triglyceride oil and contains primarily monounsaturated fats up to 80-84 %. Macadamia oil contains the highest percentage of monounsaturates when compared to both olive and canola oils ( ).[1]

Macadamia integrifolia is an Australian tree with holly-like leaves that grows well in a moist organic soil and will survive temperatures of 24 °F. Seedlings bear in 5–7 years. The fruit is borne in a case enclosing an extremely hard spherical nut. The kernel is whitish, sweet and eaten raw or roasted. The flowers are white to cream and the leaves are in whorls of three. Propagation is by seed, grafting or air layering. It is grown commercially.[2]

Common names of the trees are, Australian nut and Queensland nut. Species are “smooth shelled macadamia” called Macadamia integrifolia and “rough shelled macadamia” called Macadamia tetraphylla. Macadamia ternifolia is also the name used for M. integrifolia. Macadamia integrifolia is native to Australia where it grows in rain forests and close to streams. Macadamia tetraphylla is native to Southeastern Queensland and Northeastern New South Wales. The oil content ranges from 65% to 75% and sugar content ranges from 6% to 8%. These factors result in variable colors and texture when the nuts are roasted under the same conditions ([2]

Macadamia oil is liquid at room temperature. The refined oil is clear, lightly amber-colored with a slightly nutty smell. It has a specific gravity of 900-920 and a flash point of over 300OC.[3]

Oil accumulation does not commence until the nuts are fully grown and the shell hardens. It accumulates rapidly in the kernel during late summer when the reducing sugar content decreases. The composition of mature, roasted and salted macadamia nuts is shown. As with many oil seeds, the protein is low in methionine. Fresh kernels contain up to 4.6% sugar, mostly non-reducing sugar. The oil consists of mainly unsaturated fatty acids and is similar in both species, although the proportion of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids appears to be slightly higher in M. integrifolia (6.2:1 compared with 4.8:1). The fatty acid composition and the absence of cholesterol may lead to the promotion of macadamias as a high-energy health food. The major volatile components in roasted macadamia kernels are apparently similar to those found in other roasted nuts, although little detailed information is available.[4]

Nutritive value (g/100g) of macadamia nuts roasted in oil and salted.[4]

Water (%) 2
Energy (KJ) 3064
Protein (g) 7.1
Fat (g) 78.6
Fatty acids Saturated (g) 11.4
Monounsaturated (g) 61.1
Polyunsaturated (g) 0.014
Carbohydrate (g) 14.3
Calcium (mg) 46.4
Phosphorus (mg) 203.6
Iron (mg) 1.8
Potassium (mg) 332.1
Sodium (mg) 264.3
Sodium – unsalted raw (mg) 7.1
Thiamin (mg) 0.21
Riboflavin (mg) 0.11
Nicotinic acid (mg) 2.14
Magnesium (mg) 0.12
Zinc (mg) 1.4
Manganese (mg) 0.38
Copper (mg) 0.33

Chemical makeup

Macadamia oil technical data[5]
Parameter Units Min Max
FFA (oleic acid) % 1.5
Peroxide value meqO2/Kg 5.0
Saponification value mg/KOH/gr
C:16:0 Palmitic % 7.0 10.0
C:16:1 Palmitoleic % 14.0 22.0
C:18:0 Stearic % 2.0 5.5
C:18:1 Oleic % 53.0 67.0
C:18:2 Linoleic % 1.0 5.0
C:20:0 Arachidic % 1.0 3.0
C:20:1 Gadoleic % 1.0 3.0
C:22:0 Behenic % 1.0
Extra Virgin Olive oil for comparison[6][7]
Parameter Units Min Max
FFA (oleic acid) % <0.8
Peroxide value meqO2/Kg <20.0
Saponification value mg/KOH/gr
C:16:0 Palmitic % 7.5 20.0
C:16:1 Palmitoleic % 0.3 3.5
C:18:0 Stearic % 0.5 5.0
C:18:1 Oleic % 55.0 83.0
C:18:2 Linoleic % 3.5 21.0
C:18:3 Linolenic % 0 <1.0
C:20:0 Arachidic % <0.6
C:20:1 Gadoleic % <0.4

Macadamia oil contains approximately 60% oleic acid, 19% palmitoleic acid, 1-3% linoleic acid and 1-2% α-linolenic acid. Some varieties contain roughly equal omega-6 and omega-3. Although macadamia is cultivated in many different parts of the world, the oil's fatty acid profile is not greatly influenced by environmental factors. The oil displays chemical properties typical of a vegetable triglyceride oil. It is also very stable due to its low polyunsaturated fat content.[8]

Uses in food

Fresh macadamia nuts

Macadamia oil can be used for frying due to its high heat capacity along with other properties useful as an edible oil:

This is a comparison chart of some of the more common vegetable oils:

Vegetable oils
Type Processing
fatty acids[9]
fatty acids[9]
Polyunsaturated fatty acids Oleic acid
Smoke point
Total poly[9] linolenic acid
Linoleic acid
Avocado   11.560 70.554 13.486 1 12.5   249 °C (480 °F)[10]
Canola (rapeseed)   7.365 63.276 28.142 10 10   204 °C (400 °F)[11]
Coconut   91.000 6.000 3.000   2 6 177 °C (350 °F)[11]
Corn[12]   12.948 27.576 54.677 1 58 28 232 °C (450 °F)
Cottonseed   25.900 17.800 51.900 1 54 19 216 °C (420 °F)[12]
Flaxseed/Linseed (European)[13]   7.500 15.500 79.000 64 15 11 107 °C (225 °F)
Olive   14.000 72.000 14.000 1.5 15   193 °C (380 °F)[11]
Palm   49.300 37.000 9.300   10 40 235 °C (455 °F)
Peanut   16.900 46.200 32.000   32 48 225 °C (437 °F)[12]
Safflower (>70% linoleic)   8.000 15.000 75.000       210 °C (410 °F)[11]
Safflower (high oleic)   7.541 75.221 12.820       210 °C (410 °F)[11]
Soybean   15.650 22.783 57.740 7 50 24 238 °C (460 °F)[12]
Sunflower (<60% linoleic)   10.100 45.400 40.100 0.2 39.8 45.3 227 °C (440 °F)[12]
Sunflower (>70% oleic)   9.859 83.689 3.798       227 °C (440 °F)[12]
Cottonseed (hydrogenated)[9] Hydrogenated 93.600 1.529 0.587   0.287  
Palm (hydrogenated) Hydrogenated 47.500 40.600 7.500      
Soybean (hydrogenated)[9] Hydrogenated 21.100 73.700 0.400 0.096    
Values as percent (%) by weight of total fat.

Uses in cosmetics

Palmitoleic acid at such a high concentration is rarely found in vegetable oils. This fatty acid is mostly found in fish oils. Palmitoleic acid is found in macadamia oil in concentrations as high as 21% (Ako et al., 1995).[14] Derivatives of macadamia oil in cosmetics include the light emollient ethyl macadamiate and water-soluble PEG-16 macadamia glycerides.

Polarity of the oil phase has a great influence on the formulation and properties of the cosmetic emulsions. Polarity of the oil phase is considered as an essential factor for the stability of water-in-oil emulsions (Dietz 1999a).[15] Polarity of macadamia nut oil was found to be 525.50 nm±0.29 nm (SE). This is considered as highly polar. Polar oils may enhance solubility of oil soluble cosmetic ingredients. Heat stability of emulsions prepared with strongly polar and non-polar oils were found to give emulsions with poor stability which is generally experienced with natural oils. (Dietz 1999a)[15]

Macadamia oil is an excellent botanical replacement for mink oil in most applications. It is also used for hair.

Macadamia oil's INCI name is macadamia ternifolia seed oil. CAS Numbers: 128497-20-1


  1. Akhtar; et al. (2006). "EVALUATION OF BASIC PROPERTIES OF MACADAMIA NUT OIL". Gomal University Journal of Research, 22: 21-27. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  2. 1 2 "MACADAMIA INTEGRIFOLIA". CRFG. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  3. "MSDS Macadamia Nut Oil". AAKO. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Macadamia Nuts". Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  5. "Macadamia Nut Oil" (PDF). McKinley Resources, Inc. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  6. "Chemistry and quality of olive oil" (PDF). primefacts. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  7. "Chemical Characteristics". Olive Oil Source. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  8. Kleemann, Michael (7 Mar 2010). "Organic & Natural Life - Business Opportunities". Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 "Nutrient database, Release 24". United States Department of Agriculture. All values in this column are from the USDA Nutrient database unless otherwise cited.
  10. What is unrefined, extra virgin cold-pressed avocado oil?, The American Oil Chemists’ Society
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Katragadda, H. R.; Fullana, A. S.; Sidhu, S.; Carbonell-Barrachina, Á. A. (2010). "Emissions of volatile aldehydes from heated cooking oils". Food Chemistry. 120: 59. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.09.070.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wolke, Robert L. (May 16, 2007). "Where There's Smoke, There's a Fryer". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  13. Fatty acid composition of important plant and animal fats and oils (German) 21 December 2011, Hans-Jochen Fiebig, Münster
  14. Ako H, Okoda D & Gray D (1995). "Healthful new oil from macadamia nuts". Nutrition. 11(3): 286–8.
  15. 1 2 Dietz T. "Basic properties of cosmetic oils and their relevence to emulsion preparations". SÖFW-Journal. 125(7): 2–7.

Martha Stewart Living, page 148 article on oils in June 2013 magazine written by Rebecca Misner.

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