Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 22, 2005 04:41 PM

Pure Mustard Oil "for massage only"??

  • f

I purchased a bottle of "pure mustard oil" on the condiment isle at an Indian Market. In very small print I notice it says "For Massage Only". Firstly, has anyone used mustard oil for massage? Secondly, why was it on the condiment isle of an Indian food market?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think that they fry fish in it, but there was a problem with it some time ago (toxicity, but I know no details).

    Perhaps they have to label it to sell it, knowing that people are going to use it anyhow (like the FDA won't allow it for consumption).

    Reminds me of "novelty items" where the labels say "for novelty use only - not for use on myterious calf pain."

    1. Many people and children have an intense allergic response to mustard seed oil.

      Here's something else I found.

      Warning not to use any products containing mustard seed oil/mustard oil (11 September 1998)

      Health Canada is warning consumers not to use any mustard seed oils/mustard oils because they may be contaminated with argemone oil, a toxic oil which can cause severe illness and sometimes death when consumed or absorbed through the skin.

      These oils are not used in prepared mustards made in Canada and these products are therefore not of concern. No reports of illness or death associated with these products have been reported in Canada.

      However, there are reports in India of serious illness, blindness and death associated with the consumption of contaminated oil.

      Health Canada is currently testing samples of mustard seed oil/mustard oil to determine if any contaminated items were imported to Canada. Until the quality of mustard seed oils/mustard oils can be confirmed, consumers should not purchase or use any products containing these oils. For more information, visit

      5 Replies
      1. re: The Rogue

        Good Googling, but the reason mustard oil is sold with a warning label in the US has nothing to do with allergies or contamination. Mustard oil contains a fairly significant amount of erucic acid, which the FDA has deemed toxic.

        But, yes, despite the warning, it is intended for culinary use, and that's why it's shelved with the food.

        Usually, when cooking with mustard oil, you bring it to the smoking point and then turn down the heat before adding other ingredients. This mellows the harsh flavor, and--depending on who you believe--might neutralize any supposed toxicity as well.

        So: up to you how you use it, but if it really were as dangerous as all that, a whole bunch of Bengalis would probably be dropping like flies.

        (And it is used for massage, too--supposedly good for arthritis.)

        1. re: Rico Pan

          One additional note: mustard oil varies greatly in strength - one bottle I had was so mild I was tempted to use it as salad oil. (I didn't.) The bottle I have now is so intense that you can smell it from several feet away when you first open the bottle, and the last time I deep-fried with it I had to leave the kitchen momentarily because I couldn't see through the tears.

          After that last experience I now mostly only use mustard oil when it is an essential ingredient - in Indian pickles, for example. But that's a personal comfort decision, nothing to do with our paranoiac government's food fetishes.

          1. re: Noah

            rapeseed or canola oil is also a mustard oil - more highly refined. there is a lot of bad science type info on the web about these oils - the "mustard gas" you get when you heat up the indian mustard oil to smoke point is unpleasant - so dont stick your face in it, but after it cooks off, the oil becomes sweet and pleasant. I only use it in bengali dishes where its flavor is called for.

            1. re: jen kalb

              No, canola is pressed from LEA (Low Erucic Acid?) rapeseed (Brassica napus or B. rapa), while mustard oil is pressed from the seeds of brown mustard (B. juncea), white mustard (B. alba) or perhaps black mustard (B. nigra). The different species might be responsible for the different flavors.

              Rapeseed oil was similarly illegal in the US before the LEA version marketed as 'canola' was developed. Canola is always mild. Mustard oil is not always mild.

              1. re: Noah

                thanks for the correction - I should have said that they were both mustard seed oils, rather than that they were the same thing.