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Castor Oil

Updated on March 20, 2010
Castor Beans
Castor Beans

Castor Oil is obtained from the seeds or 'beans' of the plant Ricinus communis, which grows wild in most tropical and sub-tropical regions, but is cultivated mainly in Brazil and India. The seeds, containing 40-50 per cent of oil, are first 'cold pressed' in hydraulic presses to remove a portion of the oil for medicinal purposes, and the cake residue is solvent-extracted to recover most of the remaining oil for a variety of industrial uses.

Castor oil is particularly suitable as a laxative, being broken down in the intestine to ricinoleic acid which has a strong irritant purgative action. Apart from its medicinal use, castor oil is a raw material from which is derived sodium ricinoleate, used for treatment of gum troubles. It is used industrially for soap-making, as a high-temperature lubricant, in fluids for hydraulic systems, in the manufacture of plastics, in the textile industry, and it is dehydrated by heating with a catalyst to produce a drying oil for use in the preparation of such products as paints, varnishes, inks, linoleum and oil-cloth.

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