Can You Buy Castor Oil With Food Stamps? Oils You Can Get With EBT

This information is current as of April 13, 2022.

Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards help thousands of families buy foods with SNAP benefits every month. Since you can purchase cooking oils with EBT cards, you might be asking, “Can you buy castor oil with food stamps?”

Can you buy Castor Oil with Food Stamps? Oils you can get with EBT.

Unfortunately, you cannot buy castor oil with foods stamps since it does not qualify as a food item. However, you can purchase other oils for cooking, such as olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, vegetable, peanut oil, and sesame oil. 

Keep reading below to learn which oils you can and cannot buy with your EBT card and how to use them.

What Can You Buy With an EBT Card?

Many years ago, SNAP gave out its monthly benefits in paper coupons called food stamps. In the late 90s, food stamps were replaced with a more efficient debit card system known as EBT. While many people still use the term food stamps, saying SNAP benefits or EBT is more accurate.

As all SNAP beneficiaries know, your EBT card can only be used to buy food items at participating retailers. These food items include meats, dairy, cereals, bread, vegetables, fruit, and non-alcoholic drinks. They can also have oils needed to prepare foods, either cooking or adding to your meal. These products can be bought in-store through curbside pickup or grocery delivery services.

You cannot buy alcohol, household products, tobacco, hot meals, hygiene products, pet food, and other non-food items with your EBT card.

Why Can’t I Buy Castor Oil With EBT?

Castor oil is a thick and odorless oil made from castor plant seeds. It is used for many things worldwide, primarily for its health benefits. Many people use castor oil as an anti-inflammatory, a laxative, or even to induce labor. Some types of castor oil are also used for promoting hair growth.

Castor oil’s potency gives it its medicinal properties, so it’s not used in cooking or foods. Because of its uses, it is more of a vitamin or supplement than it would be a food item.

As per federal SNAP guidelines, EBT cards cannot be used to purchase vitamins, medicines, or supplements. However, a recent government push has been pushed to add vitamins and accessories to the approved-items list for SNAP purchases. Still, we will likely have to wait at least another year or two before new legislation is introduced and – hopefully – approved. 

Buying Alternatives to Castor Oil With EBT

Suppose you want to buy castor oil as a laxative, induce labor, be an anti-inflammatory, or promote hair growth. In that case, you’ll have to pay for it out-of-pocket. Suppose you are limited to using your EBT card, though. In that case, you can use your card to buy alternative products with similar benefits.

For example, many foods serve as natural laxatives, such as figs, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, raisins, leafy greens, and seeds.

While inducing labor is a bit more complicated, you can try incorporating more pineapple, dates, and spicy food into your diet.

As for foods with anti-inflammatory properties, the list runs long. Try using your EBT card to buy tomatoes, olive oil, almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, strawberries, and green leafy vegetables.

Finally, many foods may also be associated with hair growth, from eggs to spinach and plenty in between. So plenty of foods can also be mixed to make an at-home hair mask.

Oils You Can Get With EBT

EBT will allow you to purchase any oil that is made for cooking. These include both spray and liquid oil containers.

Some of the most popular cooking oils include olive oil and canola/vegetable oil. While they are not as well-known, avocado oil, coconut oil, peanut, sesame, and sunflower oils are also healthy alternatives for cooking. Below are some summaries of the differences and benefits of the most popular cooking oils.

  • Olive oil: This oil is best used for medium- to low-heat cooking and is excellent as an addition to any salad. Look for “extra virgin” olive oil in the store for an unrefined version with more nutrients.

  • Canola oil: Canola oil has less saturated fat than other common oils, making it better for heart health and lower cholesterol. However, it doesn’t have many nutrients.

  • Vegetable oil: Commonly used for frying foods, vegetable oil comes from oils and seeds. The healthiness of this oil depends on its origin, which is usually hard to pinpoint.

  • Avocado oil: Avocado oil is as healthy as olive oil but is used for higher-temperature cooking like sauteing or pan-frying. It has tons of vitamin E and a light taste, so your meal will preserve its flavors.

  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, but it still can help improve cholesterol, kill bacteria, and improve metabolism.

  • Sunflower oil: Sunflower oil has more than 30% of your daily dose of vitamin E, alongside omega-6 fatty acids, which can be beneficial.

Where Can I Buy Oils With EBT?

When looking for grocery store options in your area accepting EBT, you can use the SNAP retailer location finder online. Just enter your address, and you’ll be able to see plenty of stores in your area that accept EBT payments.

The following retailers are EBT-friendly and sell plenty of oils and other SNAP-accepted food products.

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Reasor’s
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • Carlie C’s IGA
  • Safeway/Vons/Albertsons
  • The Fresh Grocer
  • Food Lion
  • Super Foods
  • Woods Supermarket
  • ShopRite
  • Hays Supermarket
  • Aldi
  • Dash’s Market
  • Wright’s Market
  • Publix
  • Piggly Wiggly

Uses for Oil – Apart from Cooking

While EBT limits you to buying food items, SNAP cannot control how you use those food items. For example, plenty of cooking oils can be used for other purposes around the house, replacing other non-food products you might have needed to buy.

For example, apart from its healthy cooking purposes, olive oil can be used in small quantities to:

  • Moisturize skin
  • Tame flyaways and make the ends of your hair shine
  • Substitute shaving cream
  • Silence squeaky door hinges
  • Polish leather (wipe off after a few minutes)
  • Repair cracked heels (feet)
  • Shine stainless steel or brass
  • Dust and moisturize wooden furniture
  • Soothe chapped lips or stretch mask

Keeping Track of Your EBT Balance

When using your EBT card, it’s essential to keep track of your balance. This will help you stick to a budget, buy enough food for the entire month, and see if you have any benefits that will roll over to the next month.

Since each state manages its SNAP program differently, you’ll need to check with yours to see how you can keep track of your balance. You can use the SNAP directory to find your state’s program.

Check out its website and look for a section about the EBT card or an online account. You’ll probably have to sign up by creating a username and password. You may have already done this when your card was given to you. Then, log on to your state’s EBT portal to manage your benefits and see your balance.

Your EBT card might even have a customer service number listed on the back to let you call to hear your balance. You’ll likely need to know your PIN and complete card number to get these details.

Final Thoughts

So, can you buy castor oil with food stamps? Since you can’t purchase non-food items, castor oil is not something you can buy with EBT. However, you can use your SNAP benefits for plenty of alternatives. You’d be surprised how many food items can be used for the same medicinal properties as castor oil.

Additionally, EBT will allow you to buy other oils such as olive, avocado, coconut, vegetable, canola, sesame, peanut, and sunflower oils. For more resources and information on using EBT, check out our other articles on unfreezing your SNAP accountusing EBT at Aldi, and using EBT at Target.

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