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Castor oil is a pale yellow oil with a faint odour, derived from the Castor bean (Ricinus communis) a fast growing species of flowering shrub. Likely a native to North-East Africa but now found around the world, these trees grow up to 4 meters tall with large, soft leaves and clusters of flowers containing rectangular seeds. The seeds, known as castor 'beans' are particularly rich in triglycerides, useful fatty acids also present in the body. To produce castor oil, harvested seeds undergo a process of drying, dehulling, heating and pressing to extract the oil. The raw seeds are highly poisonous due to the presence of ricin; the crucial heating process during oil production disables the ricin rendering the oil safe for use. Castor oil is used in many industries in a wide range of applications including soaps, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, food flavourings and perfumes. When used in skincare, the rich blend of omega-9 fatty acids in castor oil can help nourish the skin, leaving it soft and smooth.
Botanical name: Ricinus communis
Other names: Castor bean, Castor oil plant, Ricinus oil, Olio di ricino, ricini oleum
Main components: Ricinoleic acid, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid, α-Linolenic acid, Stearic acid, Palmitic acid, Dihydroxystearic acid