Castor oil characteristics

Characteristics, form of production and uses of castor oil

What is castor oil?

Castor oil is obtained from seeds of castor oil plant. Special care must be taken because these seeds, besides providing about 50% of castor oil, also contain a toxic substance.

Why unrefined castor oil is toxic?

This toxic substance is formed by a very harmful vegetable protein, a lectin called ricin, considered a toxoalbumin or phytotoxin.

In addition, it also contains alkaloids harmful to our bodies, ricinine and ricidine, with high toxic effect, which may trigger allergic reactions by contact and even death, by ingestion in small doses.

Because of its composition, since it is a glycoprotein substance, can also cause allergic reactions to our body, and, as it blocks protein synthesis in the body, especially the intestine, it is a potent poison.

* See: Toxicity of castor oil in the listing below

How do you obtain edible castor oil?

The seeds of castor oil plant are subjected to heat to extract the castor oil. All toxic substances contained in the oil are eliminated, resulting completely fit for human consumption because poisons are destroyed by heat.

The excess mass is usually discarded, since it still retains these toxic properties.

How is castor oil like? Physical and chemical characteristics

Castor oil has an unpleasant aroma and flavor, so it is usually mixed with highly aromatic oils to improve its acceptance.

castor oil plant A Drawing of castor oil plant with a detail of fruits (top) and seed (below). Seed is where the castor oil is extracted from

What is castor oil made of?

Castor oil obtained is composed of:

  • Triglycerides, specifically by ricinoleic acid (18: 1). It can exceed 90%
  • Lower amounts of other fatty acids: linoleic acid, that is polyunsaturated, about 1 % and the saturated fatty acids palmitic and stearic acids with values ​​of a maximum of 2%.
  • Vitamin E as alphatocopherol
  • An enzyme called lipase.

* See: composition of castor oil in the listing below


Castor oil is traditionally known mainly for its properties to combat constipation, although the use of castor oil are wide and varied. Among the main we can mention the following:

Industrial uses of castor oil

Castor oil has numerous industrial applications. It is used in the manufacture of plastics, paints, lubricants for high competition and airplanes, textiles, etc.

It is starting to be used as biofuel.

Medical uses of castor oil

There are some medicines that are prepared from castor oil and which are suitable for oral consumption such as those intended to treat cases of constipation.

Castor oil usually found in the market, is not suitable for food consumption, but it is used for many external applications.

If we consume the seeds or other plant parts, they are highly toxic, even lethal.

External applications of castor oil

Castor oil is intended mainly for cosmetic preparations, although it is also used to treat certain eye and intestinal disorders. Among the main external applications of castor oil, we include the following:

* More information:

Castor oil for your nails

Castor oil for removing makeup

Castor oil for your skin

Castor oil for your eyelashes

Castor oil for eyebrows

Castor oil for dark circles

punto rojoMore information on castor oil.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

3 December, 2021

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