What Is Castor Oil? Types, Properties, & Uses

Castor oil has long been hailed as a holy grail for skin and beauty uses. Using castor oil in a beauty routine isn’t anything new either—people have been using it since 4,000 B.C. 

Castor oil has come a long way since being used in its raw form for beauty, oil lamps, and medicine. Today, there are many different variations of it and more specified uses for it. Read on to learn about hydrogenated castor oil, its properties, and its applications.

Castor Oil Properties

Castor oil comes from the castor plant, a plant in the Euphorbiaceae. Castor oil is made by cold pressing the castor plant’s seeds. The oil then becomes a mixture of both unsaturated and saturated fatty acid esters. Because of its hydroxyl group, double bond, carboxylic group, and long-chain hydrocarbon in ricinoleic acid, castor oil can be used in many different materials.


Physical properties of castor oil

Pic Courtesy: National Library of Medicine (NIH)

Castor oil is known for the following properties:

  • ✔ Laxative
  • ✔ Anti-inflammatory
  • ✔ Antioxidant
  • ✔ Antifungal
  • ✔ Pain-relieving
  • ✔ Moisturizing
  • ✔ Fighting acne


4 Types of Castor Oil

Not all castor oil is the same. The type of castor oil depends on how the oil was pulled from the castor plant seeds and determines what applications it can be used in.

✔ Regular Castor Oil

Regular castor oil is one of the most popular forms and comes from the seeds being expeller-pressed. This is when the seeds are pressed using pressure and friction, with no added heat. However, because the pressing process requires friction, it creates heat of around 140 to 210° F. Regular castor oil has many applications, from medicine to skincare.

✔ Cold-Pressed Castor Oil

Another popular type of castor oil, cold-pressed oil follows the same process of being pressed, but at a lower temperature of about 122° F. When the seeds are cold-pressed, the oil retains the original aroma and flavor of the castor seeds. It also tends to retain more nutrients and antioxidant properties. Cold-pressed castor oil is used for skin and hair care products.

✔ Jamaican Black Castor Oil


Castor Oil Seeds

Jamaican Black Castor oil is made by roasting the seeds before extraction, which gives this oil its distinguishable dark color and enhanced nutty aroma. JBCO is often used in hair care to help promote growth by moisturizing hair and scalp, strengthening thin hair, and preventing breakage.

✔ Hydrogenated Castor Oil

Hydrogenated castor oil is also derived from the castor seeds, but is additionally processed by hydrogen being added to it to make it more stable and raise its melting point so it can be solid at room temperature. This makes it great as an emulsifier, emollient, and moisturizer.


Benefits of Hydrogenated Castor Oil

Hydrogenated castor oil has many uses, which is why it is very popular in different applications. Here are some of its main benefits:


  • ✔ Laxative. Castor oil is well known for its powerful laxative properties. It is even approved by the FDA as a natural laxative. Many use it to relieve constipation or as a way to clean out the bowels before any medical procedures. The dosage of castor oil as a laxative needs to be monitored, however, since too much can cause negative side effects.


  • ✔ Moisturizer. When applied topically, castor oil becomes a rich moisturizer because it contains ricinoleic acid. People commonly use products with castor oil in them to help moisturize their skin, and castor oil is especially used in products for scalp care because of it. Castor oil can be used alone or in conjunction with other oils.


  • ✔ May help promote wound healing. Because of its moisturizing and antifungal properties, castor oil may help promote wound healing. It prevents the wound from drying out and may help with skin inflammation. 


  • ✔ Storing dentures. Some studies show that castor oil can be beneficial for storing and cleaning dentures to help prevent any fungal growth on them.


Role of Castor Oil in the Production of Biodiesel

Biodiesel can also be made from castor oil. Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable form of combustible fuel. It is typically made from vegetable oils, animal fat, or waste cooking oil.

Castor oil can be used in the production of biodiesel as an alternative to fossil fuels because of where it comes from. Originally biodiesel would be made from oils that derive from other vegetable oils, which posed a problem because it comes from edible crops that are valuable to populations. Using vegetable oils for biodiesel instead of food applications could potentially cause a food shortage. That’s where castor oil came in. Because it is a non-edible plant, it is a great option for biodiesel. It also yields a higher percentage of biodiesel than other vegetable oils.

No matter what application you need castor oil for, Kraft Chemical can help. We offer hydrogenated castor oil in bulk. This can be used to create products in animal care, the cosmetics industry, hair care, lubricants, paints and coatings, pharmaceuticals, and more. Its uses include:

  • ✔ Surfactant
  • ✔ Solubilizer
  • ✔ Emulsifier
  • ✔ Emollient
  • ✔ Cleaning agent
  • ✔ Fragrance ingredient


We also offer PEG-40 on its own as a polyethylene glycol derivative.


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