Butter Oil


Butter oil is the oily product obtained from butter. It is also known as clarified butter. There are many names for clarified butter all across the globe. Ghee is the traditional clarified butter from India as mentioned in Ayurveda. Butter oil is excellent for cooking purposes as it has a much higher smoke point. Ghee especially adds a distinct nutty flavor to foods prepared in it, because of the caramelizing action performed when making it. Butter oil is really great for people with intolerance to milk lactose or casein, as it contains very little of these both.


Butter oil comes from butter. It is prepared through a somewhat tedious process, however it can be easily done at home. The whole idea behind butter oil is to remove the milk solids and water content from butter. This makes it less dense and improves its smoke point. Butter oil therefore resembles other oils. This is the basic difference between butter and clarified butter.

Ghee or Clarified Butter
Ghee or Clarified Butter (Image:Shutterstock)
  • Cream is first processed to make butter.
  • This butter is then heated to evaporate the water content. The milk solids slowly start to settle at the bottom. The upper layer is rich in oils and fats and is filtered out simply by decantation. This is the butter oil.

The process of making ghee is a little bit more involved. It involves heating the butter in such a way that the milk solids start to caramelize. This lends a much better taste, somewhat nutty and slightly aromatic. Clarified butter from grass fed cows is a brilliant yellow in color.
Ghee is just the traditional Indian name for clarified butter. However, the similar product was extracted by cultures in different locations around the world, and they have their names for clarified butter. All these products have subtle differences in terms of nutrition, depending on the diet of the cows, the milk quality and the production technique.


Butter oil has got remarkable health boosting properties.

  • Emollient – It is traditionally used to massage the skin and provide moisturization.
  • Anti-Viral – Ghee has been identified to act against certain virus species. This is due to presence of butyric acid.
  • Anti-Cancer – Ghee has also shown protective effect against certain cancers. [1]
  • Anti-Inflammatory – Clarified butter is good at reducing inflammation, especially in the colon.
  • Anti-bacterial – This oil also has activity against certain bacterial species. Lauric acid is a potent antibacterial and antiviral.
  • Anti-Viral – active against lipid coated viruses like herpes simplex viruses.
  • Antioxidant – It scavenges free radicals and protects us from free radical damage.
  • Cardioprotective – When taken in small amounts, Ghee or Butter oil can help in lowering cholesterol levels. [2]
  • Anti-Fungal – kills candida and other fungi because of caprylic acid.

Besides these therapeutic properties of butter oil, Ayurveda mentions many more medicinal properties of Ghee. These may not be verified, but they are mentioned in renowned ancient medicinal books on Ayurveda.

  •  Improves intelligence and memory
  • Stimulates the digestive fire, or Agni.
  • Softens the skin.
  • Cicatrizant – heals wounds.
  • Anti-irritant – reduces skin irritation.
  • Carrier Agent – Ghee is considered an excellent carrier agent for herbs, powders and other nutrients when it is needed to drive them into the skin.
  • Builds tissues of the body and may help with wasting conditions.

Color, Taste and Aroma

Butter oil is yellow in color. It has a light taste and a subtle sweet aroma. There are slight variations in the taste and aroma depending on butter oil from different locations around the world.

Health Benefits

Butter oil can be use as a home remedy for numerous conditions. This is attributed to its healing properties. Consuming about 5 – 10 % of ghee out of the total diet calories can also provide long term health benefits.

Butter Oil for Skin

Butter oil is good for massaging on the skin. One can use it to make herb infused oil and thus apply any herb on the skin, like rosemary, thyme, basil. It alleviates dry, parched skin. Rubbing butter oil can reduce wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. It is also good for stretch marks and scars, as it promotes healing. Butter oil can soothe irritated skin lesions, rashes and cracked heels. Massaging it into the body helps to calm the person. Applying it under the eyes help to alleviate eye strain and provide relaxation to the eyes.

Butter Oil for Hair

Butter oil makes a fine hot oil deep conditioning treatment for the hair. It provides saturated fats and protein to the hair. It can improve the texture and quality of hair. It reduces dandruff . Butter oil is a nice detangler when used in very small quantity. Its moisturization stays long as it does not go out quickly.


Consuming a small fraction of ghee in diet can help to reduce the susceptibility to certain cancers.  Ghee or butter oil is extremely high in saturated fats, and as such pose a risk for heart disease if taken even in slight excess. Ghee has been identified to reduce the risk of colon cancer. It actually aids in the growth of healthy colon cells. It may also help in proper colon functioning and alleviation of inflammatory diseases of the colon. This is because of butyric acid in ghee. [3]

Reduces Inflammation

Butter oil, especially one that contains conjugated linoleic acids is known to reduce inflammation in the body. It reduces the synthesis of inflammatory compounds like prostaglandins and leukotrienes in the body. Regular consumption of ghee can help with ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease. [4]

Improved Mood and Life Extension

Butyric acid is a known HDAC inhibitor. These compounds interfere with the function of histone deacetylase and are potent mood stabilizers. This makes butter oil helpful for people who regularly suffer from depression and mood swings. This molecule also boosts longevity. [5]

Usage in Home Remedies

Butter oil makes a versatile home remedy for many problems.

  • Apply it on wounds to stench bleeding.
  • It soothes sunburns.
  • It can calm itching.


Butter oil is one of the best oils for deep frying. It has got a remarkably high smoke point of 485 ° F. This temperature is not easily exceeded even in deep frying. However, one should note that butter oil is composed mainly of saturated fats. Even though they may be prevented from hydrogenation, they can still be harmful if taken in excess over a considerable period of time.
Butter oil, especially ghee helps to bring out a nutty flavor in fried food, which makes them taste much better than with most other oils. It is much easier to fry with butter oil as it does not splatter much. Therefore, there is much lesser risk of kitchen burns.One can use butter oil for sauteing and making all kinds of fried food. It also goes well with smoked meat.

Butter oil is also an excellent lamp oil. It provides sufficient brightness and burns for long. One can easily add a few drops of an essential oil to diffuse its aroma into the environment.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

Butter oil is generally safe to use. However, one should make sure to get high quality product, if buying from the market. Clarified butter is usually found to contain dangerous amounts of heavy metals. Therefore, it is important to buy products that meet safety standards regarding harmful compounds like heavy metals.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Butter oil is unlike most edible oils. It contains small amounts of many vitamins and minerals, while most oils are devoid of many vitamins and minerals. Its fatty acid profile is also quite different as it contains saturated fats and fatty acids like butyric acid which are not so common in other oils. This oil is calorie dense and provides 876 calories per 100 gm.

Fatty Acid Nutritional Profile
100 grams of anhydrous butter oil contains :

  • Saturated Fatty Acids – 61.9 gm
  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids – 28.7 gm
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids – 3.6 gm
  • Trans Fatty Acids – 4 gm

Trans fats are the unhealthiest of all fats and they are known to aggravate the risk of heart diseases. Butter oil contains very little omega-3 ( 1447 mg ) and omega-6  ( 2247 mg ) fatty acids. Besides the important omega fatty acids, butter oil also contains CLA ( conjugated linoleic acid ). These are a group of compounds that promise many health benefits, although few of them have been verified. CLA fats are a common nutritional supplement, but one can easily get them from a diet rich in grass fed cow milk and other products from it, which includes butter oil. These are some of the health benefits that one can avail from CLAs.

  • Lowered inflammation in the body.
  • Improved regulation of body fat and lean muscle mass.
  • Immune system support.
  • More energy in the body. CLA and omega – 3 aid in boosting mitochondrial biosynthesis.
Nutrient Percentage Property
Gamma Linoleic Acid (18:3) PUFA
Stearic Acid (18:0) 12.05 % Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid (16:0) 26. 16 % Saturated fat
Palmitoleic Acid (16:1) 2.22 % MUFA
Oleic Acid (18:1) 25.0 % MUFA
Linoleic Acid (18:2) 2.24 % PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3) 1.44 % PUFA
Butyric Acid (4:0) 3.2 % Saturated fat
Caproic Acid (6:0) 1.9 % Saturated fat
Caprylic Acid (8:0) 1.1 % Saturated fat
Capric Acid (10:0) 2.5 % Saturated fat
Lauric Acid (12:0) 2.8 % Saturated fat
Myristic Acid (14:0) 10 % Saturated fat

Source : 6

Complete Nutritional Value
Butter oil provides many vitamins and minerals in small amounts.

Nutrient Value Percentage
Energy (Calories)  876  43.8
Carbohydrates  0  0
Proteins  0.28 gm  0.56 %
Fats  99.48 gm  152 %
Dietary fiber  0  0
Cholesterol  256 mg  85.3 %
Sugars  0  0
Vitamins  Value  Percentage
Vitamin A  3069 IU  61 %
Thiamine (B1)  0.001 mg  0
Riboflavin (B2)  0.005 mg  0
Niacin (B3)  0.003 mg  0
Pantothenic Acid (B5)  0.010 mg  0
Pyridoxine (B6)  0.001 mg  0
Biotin (B7)  –  –
Folic Acid (B9)  0  0
Vitamin B12  0  0
Vitamin C  0  0
Vitamin D  7.3 IU  1.8 %
Vitamin E  2.8 mg  14 %
Vitamin K  8.6 μg  10.75 %
Electrolytes Value Percentage
Potassium  5 mg  0.14 %
Sodium  2 mg  0
Minerals Value Percentage
Iron  0  0
Calcium  4 mg  0.4 %
Magnesium  0  0
Phosphorus  3 mg  0.3 %
Zinc  0.01 mg  0
Manganese  0  0
Copper  0.001 mg  0
Selenium  0  0
Micro-Nutrients  Value  Percentage
Phytosterols  –  –
Caffeine  0  –
Theobromine  0  –

Source : 6

Butter oil thus shows a good balance of nutrients. However, it does contain a significant amount of cholesterol. However, besides the fact that it contains significant amount of cholesterol and saturated fat, it is still a very healthy fat for the body.

Buying and Storage

One should definitely for 100 % organic butter oil made from the milk of grass fed cows only. Grass fed cows have a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in their milk, which is not pro-inflammatory. Butter oil is quite resistant to rancidity and can be kept without refrigeration for weeks.


1. Effects of cow ghee (clarified butter oil) & soybean oil on carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes in rats. Rita Rani and Vinod K. Kansal. The Indian Journal of Medical Research
2. The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation. Hari Sharma, Xiaoying Zhang, and Chandradhar Dwivedi
3. Klampfer, L; Huang, J; Sasazuki, T; Shirasawa, S; Augenlicht, L (2004). “Oncogenic Ras Promotes Butyrate-induced Apoptosis through Inhibition of Gelsolin Expression. The Journal of Biological Chemistry
4. Kumar MV, Sambaiah K, Lokesh BR. The anhydrous milk fat, ghee, lowers serum prostaglandins and secretion of leukotrienes by rat peritoneal macrophages. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids.
5. Role of CBP and SATB-1 in Aging, Dietary Restriction, and Insulin-Like Signaling
6. USDA – Butter Oil, Anydrous.

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