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What is Sweet Oil?

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:05 pm
by bugbear
I've read lots of Victorian craft books (centred on woodworking, but diverse), including
a volume or two of "Work".

https://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/sto ... %20Project

There are many recipes and processes that use "sweet oil". About the only thing I'm sure of is that
it's not linseed oil (which is also used A LOT, along with Shellac).

Lots of people think that sweet oil is just olive oil, but some of the uses
(notably on honing stones) would not work nicely with olive oil.

So - does anyone actually have a clear period reference as
to what "sweet oil" is called in modern parlance?

Or (worse) does it vary with craft context?

BugBear

Re: What is Sweet Oil?

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:31 pm
by Merlon.
The OED states
"sweet oil n. any oil of pleasant or mild taste, spec. olive oil."

Re: What is Sweet Oil?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:19 pm
by wurzul
I'm afraid I'm one of those who had always equated it with olive oil. My frame of reference is Georgian military memoirs, peninsula examples refer to the natives cooking with sweet oil, so I had made that connection. The OED's broader definition makes sense to me.

Re: What is Sweet Oil?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:32 pm
by de Coverley
I'd also consider anything from fish or whale oil processing according to the era.

Re: What is Sweet Oil?

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 2:06 pm
by jaa101
Google knows the answer to many questions like this. Ask it about books between 1810 and 1900 (or whenever) containing the phrase you're interested in, like this:

https://www.google.com/search?q="sweet+oil"&tbm=bks&tbs=cdr:1,cd_min:1810,cd_max:1900

In this case, be prepared to trawl through old cookery books and such which assume the knowledge you're looking for but there are nevertheless clues even in those.