Sunflower oil

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Sunflowers in bloom


A light yellow, semidrying oil obtained from the seeds of sunflowers, Helianthus annus. Sunflower oil contains the following fatty acids: linoleic (63%), oleic (26%), palmitic (6%), stearic (5%) with traces of linolenic (<0.1%) (Learner 2005). It has a very low viscosity is primarily used for cooking. Sunflower oil has occasionally been mentioned as an additive to oil paints or varnishes. It is used industrially as an additive to alkyd paints.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Helianthus annuus; aceite de girasol (Esp.); huile de tournesol (Fr.); olio di girasole (It); sunflower seed oil


  • Combustible.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Slightly soluble in ethanol, ether, chloroform, carbon disulfide.
  • Saponification number = 188-194;
  • Iodine number = 125-136;
  • Acid number = 6-12
Melting Point -18 C
Density 0.922-0.926 g/ml
Refractive Index 1.461-1.473

Resources and Citations

  • Thomas J.S. Learner, Analysis of Modern Paints, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 2004
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966 Comment: iodine number = about 130
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 786; specific gravity = 0.925
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993 Comment: iodine = 130-135; ref index 1.4611
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 9175; Saponification no. =188-194; iodine = 125-136
  • M. Doerner, The Materials of the Artist, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1934
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: melting point = -17.0, density=0.923, ref. index = 1.4694, iodine value=125.5, saponification value = 188.7; palmitic acid (5.6%), stearic acid (2.2%), oleic acid (25.1%), linoleic acid (66.2%)