Castor oil is one of the most versatile plant oils. Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean (castor seed). Castor oil is a colorless to very pale yellow liquid with mild or no odor or taste. Castor is cultivated around the world because of the commercial importance of its oil. Its unique chemical structure makes it useful in a wide number of industries and applications. Castor (Ricinus communis L.) is cultivated around the world because of the commercial importance of its oil.
Castor is extensively grown in Western India and in a few places around the world. Brazil and China complement castor seed production. In the recent years, the two countries have experienced a shift in the crop pattern coupled with a steady increase in its domestic consumption.
Castor is grown under tropical conditions. It loves heat and humidity and does best in regions where both are ample. India, gifted with an ideal climatic condition, has recorded a produce of close to 850,000 tones of castor seed. This accounts for 75.6% of the world production. Gujarat produces 86% of the total castor seeds in India followed by Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Mehsana and Banaskantha are the largest castor producing districts in Gujarat.
In India, Castor is planted during July or August and harvested around December or January. The seed pods are dried, de-podded and brought to the market yards during December or January for trading. The Indian variety of castor has an oil content of 48% and 42% can be extracted, while the cake retains the rest .
Castor Oil is one of the most versatile plant oils. Its unique chemical structure makes it useful in a wide number of industries and applications. India, being the largest producer and exporter of castor oil products and its derivatives, has a considerable export market and this makes the castor oil products a valuable source of foreign exchange.
Looking to the world Castor Seed production, Castor Seed is obtained from a tropical and subtropical plant grown in India (64%), China (21%) , Brazil (8%) and other countries like Egypt (7%). In India, it is cultivated in several states mainly in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.
Castor Seed size varies from 15 to 20 mm in length and 5 to 12 mm in width. Seeds are covered with a shiny brownish red hull which can be easily separated from the kernel. The hull represents 20% to 30% of the seed by weight. Whole seed contains oil from 47% to 51% in hybrid varieties. Castor Seeds are processed for extraction of oil.
India is the world's largest producer with over 60 % share, followed by China and Brazil with about 20% and 10 % respectively. Because of its unlimited industrial applications, castor oil enjoys tremendous demand world-wide, India is also the biggest exporter of castor oil holding about 70% share of the international trade in this commodity."
Castor seed is obtained from a tropical and subtropical plant.Castor seed size varies from 15 to 20 mm in length and 5 to 12 mm in width. Seeds are covered with a shiny brown- red hull which can be easily separated from the kernel. The hull represents 20 to 30% of the seed by weight. Whole seed contains oil from 47% to 51% in hybrid varieties. Castor seeds are processed for extraction of oil.
Castor seed harvested from field is dried till the pods open. Seeds are hulled by using de-hullers or by hand to remove the seed from the pod. Extraction of oil from castor seeds is done in a manner similar to that for most other oil seeds. The ripe seeds are allowed to dry. These seeds are cleaned, cooked and dried prior to extraction. Cooking is done to coagulate protein (necessary to permit efficient extraction). The first stage of oil extraction is pre-pressing, using a high pressure screw press called the expeller. Extracted oil is filtered and the material removed from the oil is fed back along with fresh material. The Indian variety of castor has an oil content of 42-48%.
Castrol oil is unique among vegetable oils and uniqueness is derives from the presence of a hydroxyl fatty acid known as ricinoleic acid, which constitute around 90% of the total fatty acids of the oil. Castor Oil is also distinguished from other vegetable oils by its high specific gravity, thickness and hydroxyl value.
Castor oil is used either in its crude form or in the refined hydrogenated form. Typically, 65% of it is processed (about 28% is refined, 12% is hydrogenated, 20% is dehydrated and the balance 5% is processed to manufacture other derivatives). The major derivatives of castor oil used in the industry are hydrogenated castor oil (HCO), Dehydrated castor oil (DCO) and Sebacic acid etc. Castor oil is used as a raw material in the manufacture of a number of chemicals, which are used in the manufacture of surfactants, specialty soaps, surface coatings, cosmetics & personal care products, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, plasticisers, greases & lubricants and specialty rubber etc.
Though India is meeting most of the world's requirement of castor oil but we are not capitalizing it. India still continues to export the oil rather than add value to it. We buy back our own castor oil as formulated products and derivatives at many times the price of the oil.
India is the first country in the world to exploit commercial scale in this crop. Major markets include European Union, USA, Japan and now China and Thailand. India is largest exporter of castor oil. India exports more than 80% of total castor seed output in the form of oil.
Although India is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of castor oil, it has not been able to effectively leverage that dominant position for obtaining better prices abroad because of poor marketing infrastructure, inadequate investment in research & development and unhealthy competition among exporters.
The uses of castor oil have changed over the years. Many years ago, castor oil was primarily used for medicinal purposes and as a general industrial lubricant. Later, chemical engineers were able to produce derivatives of the oil that found many more uses. Sulfonated (sulfated) castor oil, or Turkey Red Oil , was the first synthetic detergent after ordinary soap, and other forms of the oil became important for the treatment of leather, industrial lubricants, and other industrial uses. Today, chemical engineers have come up with many uses of castor oil and its derivatives such as: Polyamide 11 (Nylon 11) engineering plastic , lubricating grease, coatings, inks, sealant, aircraft lubricants, surfactants , emulsifiers , encapsulates, plastic films, plasticizer for coatings, and components for shatterproof safety glass. Castor oil has even made its way into cosmetics and related products due to its non comedogenicity . Thus, castor oil and its derivatives have become an important commodity to the chemical industry.
The chemical structure of castor oil affords a wide range of reactions to the oleochemical industry and the unique chemicals that can be derived from it. These derivatives are on par with petrochemical products for use in several industrial applications. In fact, they are considerably superior since they are from renewable sources, bio-degradable and eco-friendly.
Castor Oil is regarded as one of the most valuable laxatives (in medicine. Castor Oil forms a clean, light-colored soap, which dries and hardens well and is free from smell. Externally, the oil has been recommended for various coetaneous complaints. Castor Oil is an excellent solvent of pure alkaloids and such solutions of Atropine, Cocaine, etc., as are used in ophthalmic surgery. It is also dropped into the eye to remove the after-irritation caused by the removal of foreign bodies.
Castor Oil is finding increasing uses in the industrial world. Castor oil has been used in skin care products for centuries, and it continues to play an important part in the production of soaps and cosmetics. It figures largely in the manufacture of the artificial leather used in upholstery; it furnishes a coloring for butter, and from it is produced the so-called Turkey-Red Oil used in the dyeing of cotton textures. It is an essential component in some artificial rubbers, in various descriptions of celluloid , and in the making of certain waterproof preparations, and one of the largest uses is in the manufacture of transparent soaps . It also furnishes sebacic acid which is employed in the manufacture of candles, and caprylic acid , which enters into the composition of varnishes. Castor oil is also a source of glycerine, and the combination of glycerine and hydroxy fatty acids makes it an excellent emollient and pigment carrier.
India is the world's largest producer of the castor contributes to around 70% of the world's total production and dominating the global trade with a share of more than 80%. India meets more than 80% of the demand of castor oil, thereby enjoying a dominant Position in the World Castor Scenario.
As it is mentioned before, India exports 75% of its total production of castor and its derivatives. India exports around 3 lakh tons of castor oil that is worth Rs 700 crores and stands at the top position in the list of major castor oil exporting countries. Due to its end number of uses in various industries, castor oil has a high level of demand in the world that is still constantly rising at 3 to 5 % per annum. India exports castor oil in two forms namely First Special grade and Castor Oil Commercial. This figure of exports from India is on a rising trend and much of the world's requirements are fulfilled by India only.