Castor oil: A Vital Raw Material for Industrial Application
Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained by the first-pressing of castor beans. It has been in use since the ancient times i.e. one finds the first mention of it in the Egyptian medical text the dates back to 1500 B.C. From being used as a medicine for ages, today it has become a vital component in product manufacturing and is used by major industries including agriculture, food, textile, transportation, paper, lubricants, cosmetics, paints and many more. Following are the major industries where industrial grade castor oil has acquired a position of an indispensable material as a manufacturing ingredient.
- 1. Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Industry
Castor oil is majorly used for constipation, skin conditions, infection, hair problems, swelling, inflammation, arthritis and much more. It is known as a stimulant laxative that is used to treat constipation and other health-related issues. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in healing irritated skin, arthritis, swelling, etc. In addition, massaging castor oil in scalp makes the hair stronger leading to significantly lessened hair fall.
Pharmaceutical grade castor oil is produced by first-pressing castor seeds in a way that it does not lose medicinal properties. It is then used in the pharmaceutical products that are used as stiffening agent, laxatives, tablet capsule lubricant, skin products, shampoo, etc. Due to its high water resistance, castor oil is widely used for lubricant applications. As a multifunctional solution, it can cure burns, abrasions, cuts, ailments, abdominal illness, headaches, muscle pains, inflammatory problems, skin eruptions, lesions, and sinusitis, etc. Hydrogenated castor oil is used in ointments, oils, medicated anti-acne skin creams, medicated anti-dandruff shampoos, etc.
- 2. Personal Care and Cosmetics Industry
Castor oil works as an antioxidant and antibacterial agent, hence, it is perfect for making flawless personal care product. It makes personal care effective and efficient. From protecting skin from harsh sun, dust and pollution to ensuring prevention of wrinkles, acne, dryness, aging, graying – castor oil has proven to be an effective ancient solution.
Enriched with fatty acids and ricinoleic acid, it is the best natural to fight inflammation. It is also considered to be a perfect moisturizer and skin conditioning agent. As a result, the cosmetic industry has embraced it. It is a vital ingredient in the manufacturing of various products including skincare products, cosmetic products, bath soaps, deodorants, etc. Further, its unique structure allows the products to maintain their consistency even in extremely high or low temperature. Hence, it is a boon for the cosmetic industry, since it is imperative that the products remain in their original (smooth) texture.
- 3. Agriculture and Food Industry
Although castor oil can only be consumed in a very small amount due to its side effects on the human body, it is very beneficial in the Agriculture and Food Industry. Castor oil cake is the best natural (organic) manure that tends to the side effects caused by chemical fertilizer and also increases the fertility of the soil without causing any damage. On the contrary, diluted castor oil can be used as a pesticide. Its strong and unpleasant smell can keep the moles and animals at bay as well as protect the trees and crops without harming the animals.
The Food industry widely uses polyoxeyethylated castor oil in food additives, enhanced flavours, candy, chocolates, and even packaging. In India, it is a common practice in many households to preserve food grains such as rice, wheat, and even pulses by coating them with edible castor oil.
- 4. Adhesive, Elastomer and Coating Manufacturing Industry
Hydrogenated castor oil is a multipurpose ingredient for many industrial applications. It is an essential additive for many applications for its ability to reduce atmospheric moisture pick-up during handling and mixing. It has high water resistance and long-lasting stability which allows flow control and disperses additive in powder coatings and coating agent for papers, hot melt adhesives in packaging, bookbinding, footwear, carpet back, in product assembly and sealants, thick film chlorinated rubber, epoxy and vinyl coating, dielectric compounds, etc. Deodorized castor oil is used as a drying agent in paints, varnishes, hard-finish coatings, printing inks, oilcloth manufacturing, etc.
Having witnessed the journey of castor oil from the ancient times till now, it is crystal clear that the production of industrial castor oil is going to increase rapidly. As a result of the unique chemical compound and numerous benefits which castor oil has to offer, it has already become a dominant/vital component in the industrial applications. According to Globe Newswire, the global castor oil market reached a volume of more than 73 Kilotons in 2018 and it is further projected to reach a volume of 943.5 kilotons by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 3.5% during 2019-2024. (source)