I recently made chili oil at home for the first time, it is delicious and works great. I simply infused canola oil with some spices and then poured it on chili flakes mixed with a bit of black vinegar. However, when I look at pictures of homemade chili oils, I noticed mine is a bit different.

Most chili flakes sunk at the bottom, but there's also a layer that stayed nearly floating at the top. Nothing but oil in-between those two layers. Whenever I use it, I have to mix it with a spoon first, which gets it looking exactly like what you'd expect, but slowly goes back into layers.

Is this normal behavior for homemade chili oil? If not, what can be done to prevent it?

My few theories as to why that is are:

  • I haven't used enough chili flakes for the amount of oil (though I did research these amounts first)
  • Some of the chili flakes burnt when I poured the oil while others didn't
  • Cheap chili flakes are cheap

Finally an update:

Chili oil split in halfChili flakes in their packaging

  • Could you post a picture perhaps? There are different parts of the Chili and if you bought a blend that may even have some slightly different densities. – J Crosby Aug 7 '19 at 15:46
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    Yeah, I wanted to do that and took a quick picture of it last night but didn't look at it and it's extremely blurry. I will take another this evening and post it. – Halhex Aug 7 '19 at 15:47
  • However, it doesn't look to me as there is any difference between the flakes that float vs the ones that sink. – Halhex Aug 7 '19 at 15:48
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    Please do - funny enough I happen to read Chinese ... and that's where I get most of my spices. – J Crosby Aug 7 '19 at 15:53
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    @Bee I'm not worried about it, it's delicious, but I want to know what I did wrong to do it right next time. – Halhex Aug 12 '19 at 13:31

I've had the same thing happen. My suspicion is that the flakes on top had residual moisture which puffed them up during cooking, or alternatively that other gases were produced by pyrolysis and similarly trapped. Either way, a quick Google image search suggests that this happens fairly often.

Chili oil has to be mixed before use in any case, so I wouldn't worry about it. But if you were particularly unhappy with the look, you could try cooking the chili oil at a lower temperature, or pre-drying the chili flakes in the oven (a few hours at around 120°C should do it).

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  • After looking at the picture that is exactly what happened. +1 for "stealing my answer" – J Crosby Aug 12 '19 at 14:02
  • OP mentions the flakes were "mixed with a bit of black vinegar",before being added to the oil, that could easily be the source of the moisture you mention – Megha Aug 14 '19 at 4:41

Yeah my chilli oil always does that too... I just skim the "floaters" off the top with each batch, because i like control of being able to pour just the oil on its own without flakes in there... if i want flakes i spoon them from the bottom

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