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Everyone today has heard of “trans” fats or hydrogenated fats. And it is that, in the food industry, when certain foods are manufactured, it is necessary to use oils.

It happens that olive, sunflower, or other seed oils are liquid at room temperature. And that for the industry is a problem, because what it needs are solid fats. They are much more useful, extend the life of food (and surely cheaper too, of course).

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In order to transform liquid vegetable oils into solid fats, a chemical reaction, hydrogenation, is carried out. When the oils are hydrogenated their qualities are modified. It is true that this way they are much more stable and do not spoil so easily, but they become saturated fats, as harmful as saturated fats of animal origin and that are usually contained in foods such as: margarines, industrial pastries (muffins, buns …) , french fries, cookies of all kinds, biscuits, precooked foods (cannelloni, lasagna, croquettes …), etc.

The FDA (American agency for the administration of drugs and food) has identified hydrogenated vegetable oils as “unsafe” since 2013 due to their correlation with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and therefore currently requires their description on food labels in the hope that this measure will reduce cardiovascular disease and prevent the incidence of heart attacks.

However, few of us consider that the use of “refined oils” in our kitchen and in the preparation of creams and natural cosmetic products can also be “unhealthy” and cause reactivity and intolerances when preparing our cosmetic products.

“Extra virgin sunflower oil has a more intense and pleasant flavor than the refined one and it is also not as oxidizable at high temperatures as the second, which in fried foods becomes a very harmful element for people’s health”. Source:

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Thus, it is possible to find on the market a refined and odorless argan oil; in this case, it has undergone a steam treatment, known as steaming, and is characterized by a very pale color, very similar to almond oil. This process modifies, of course, the characteristics of the oil and diminishes its virtues.

According to this planet-oil website: “The nutritional properties of argan oil are superior to olive oil, since it contains a higher percentage of linoleic acid and much more vitamin E. Of course, this oil should not be heated or its properties would be lost. “.

Therefore, refined argan oils, such as Naissance, for example, have better prices, but they add little properties to our products.

And what is important in oils such as argan, is crucial in oils such as castor whose natural antibacterial and antifungal properties (which allow its use when treating scabs, scars and skin blemishes ) are depleted or destroyed after the heat refining process.

According to the “slow” conceptual framework of our blog, which has its roots in Ayurvedic cosmetics, the ingredients we use to make our recipes are better the less chemicals and preservatives we include.

Sometimes, if we don’t want to keep our products in the refrigerator, it is impossible not to include preservatives in some preparations. However, if this is the case, our philosophy will always be to avoid preservatives, fragrances and oils that are not of natural origin and may cause us some type of reactivity and, in any case, a lower bioavailability of our product.

And it is that natural cosmetics is not only a matter of personal care and health, but also of environmental balance. Products that are toxic to us are also generally toxic to aquatic life or use ingredients whose extraction methods are not very sustainable.

*Ayurvedic cosmetics, as recognized by the World Health Organization, only use products of natural origin without chemicals or preservatives. Basically, they use ingredients from nature (plants, flowers, fruits, oils …) that, because they are similar to the fatty acids that our body generates, obtain more effective results, as well as taking care of the environment.

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IN NATURAL COSMETICS, vegetable oils and butters are the basis of everything due to the vitamins of all kinds (A, D, E, K…) that they contribute to our skin and; especially, for its contribution of vitamin E, which has an antioxidant (anti-aging) effect at the cellular level, and regulates the lipid layer of the skin.

Unfortunately, the majority of refined oils used in natural cosmetics, and edible oils do not escape this process either (only those few cold-pressed organic oils), they are extracted through an extraction process that includes solvents such as hexane *.

Hexane – Wikipedia: hexane or n-hexane is an aliphatic alkane hydrocarbon with six carbó atoms. Its chemical form is C₆H₁₄. It is a colorless liquid with an odor similar to petroleum. Hexane is used as a solvent for some paints and chemical processes and to remove price tags as it dissolves the glue with which they adhere. It was also widely used in the shoe and leather goods industry.

According to Wikipedia the refining of oil is a process that pursues the following objectives:

Eliminate free fatty acids, which causi deterioration of the final product by hydrolysis. It is Carried out by neutralization with sodium Hydroxide solution or physically by distillation.

Eliminate phospholipids, also called gums. They are agglomerated by adding a weak acid, and then they can be easily washed away with water.

Eliminate volatile compounds, which generate bad smell and taste. It is Carried out by vacuum distillation and steam stripping (striping).

Eliminate other contaminants, such as metalls or Pigments, by adding bleaching Earths and / or activated carbon. Wikipedia source.

That is, the refining of the oil seeks to obtain a cheaper edible product (since with the extraction and the refining process the yield of the oilseeds is higher) and with the characteristics desired by consumers, such as mild taste and smell, appearance clean, light color, stability against oxidation and suitability for frying.

This refinement process is described as follows in various sources consulted such as: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Cleaning of seeds and extraction of oil: Oilseeds are generally cleaned of foreign substances before being debarked. The seeds are ground to reduce their size and cooked with steam, and the oil is extracted using a lathe or hydraulic dam. The press cake is flaked off for subsequent extraction of residual fats with solvents, such as “food grade” hexane.

After sterilization, the pulp is removed (digested) before being subjected to mechanical pressure, often in a lathe press. The oilseeds are extracted from the press cake and reworked to obtain the oil.

The classical alkaline refining method normally comprises the following steps:

1st stage: Degummed with water to remove easily hydratable phospholipids and metals.
2nd stage: Addition of small amounts of phosphoric or citric acid to convert the remaining non-hydratable phospholipids (salts of Ca, Mg) into hydratable phospholipids.
3rd stage: Neutralization of free fatty acids with a slight excess of sodium hydroxide solution, followed by washing away the soaps and hydrated phospholipids.
4th stage: Bleaching with natural or acid activated mineral earths to adsorb colored compounds and to decompose hydroperoxides.
5th stage: Deodorization to remove volatile compounds, mainly aldehydes and ketones, with low detection thresholds for taste and smell.

Deodorization is primarily a steam distillation process carried out at low pressures (2-6 mbar) and high temperatures (180-220 ° C).
In some oils, such as sunflower or rice bran, a clear table product is obtained by a stage of dewaxing or crystallization of wax esters at low temperature, followed by filtration or centrifugation.


The cold pressing process for oil extraction begins with the choice of seeds (for example, sunflower, flax, hemp, rapeseed or sesame, among others). Cold pressing produces less oil than other methods, which is why it is a process that only small specialized companies use. Large manufacturers of vegetable oil often use solvents and high-pressure, high-speed presses, so they produce much more but also generate more heat, darkening the oil and reducing its aroma and nutritional value.

The seeds, with the shell included, go through a low pressure press whose internal temperature is kept below 40 degrees Celsius (hence the name of cold pressing). Speed, pressure and temperature must be carefully controlled and adjusted by the press operator. Keeping a cold press is not an easy task due to the heat generated by the seeds when they are crushed. The pressure mechanism is made up of several sections and can be shortened or lengthened depending on the type of seeds that pass through the press. The seed residues will later be sold to make animal feed.

At this time it is essential to control the temperature, since if the seeds are too hot it means that heat is accumulating and the outlet must be opened more to reduce the pressure inside. Once the oil has been removed, it is pumped through a filtration system. The use of fabric filters allows the oil to pass through, but prevents any remaining seeds from getting through. The oil passes through the filters several times until it becomes light in color. Mastering the art of cold pressing takes a lot of experience, but the result is a much healthier oil.

Basically a cold pressed oil is an oil that at the time of its extraction is not subjected to more than 70 degrees Celsius, this makes it retain all the biological properties that it had in its original form of fruit or seed, since from At this temperature, the oils begin to lose their properties, starting with antioxidants, this leads to the addition of chemical antioxidants to conventional oils pressed at high temperatures, which are normally petroleum-based (petrolatums), this generates in firstly that the oil is not pure and secondly that we consume a product that is harmful to our health.

If our oil is also extra virgin, that means that it has been extracted from the first extraction of the raw material, as a result we obtain oil of the highest quality in both nutrients and flavor. When the remainder of the first extraction is pressed again, this oil is called second press, being of medium quality.

In this sense, understanding that oil is the purest essence of a fruit or a seed, being a fundamental element for the proper functioning of the body and brain (since practically 50% of all the cells in our body are fats and / or oils), we should pay more care in the quality of the fats that we are including in our diet, and in our skin.

As you know, it is a maxim in natural cosmetics not to use oils and ingredients of natural origin that are not likely to be ingested.

This consideration is especially important when it comes to castor oil. As we anticipated before, natural castor oil has antibacterial and antifungal qualities that are difficult to preserve with the refining process.

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Castor oil, best cold pressed if we want to use it in natural cosmetics.
“Castor oil is obtained from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, which contain approximately 40-50% of its weight of oil. The oil in turn contains 70-77% of the triglycerides of ricinoleic acid. Unlike the seeds themselves, it is not toxic ”. Wikipedia

“It is often referred to as toxic, because the raw seed is, and quite a bit in fact, since ricin is one of the most toxic substances in nature. But the consumption of castor oil is not dangerous, quite the opposite. The toxin concentration is negligible, so in regular use it is not a problem. Even so, an overdose could lead to digestive problems, especially colic, diarrhea and nausea ”. Source:

“Since Pharaonic times, the castor bean plant has been used for medicinal purposes. The best known application is as a purgative. A typical dose contains between 10 and 30 ml of castor oil.

The effect is based, on the one hand, on the accumulation of water in the intestine and, on the other, on irritation of the mucus, which accelerates the emptying of the intestinal system. As a side effect, the assimilation of sodium and water is inhibited, in addition to lipophilic vitamins from the intestine. In high doses nausea, vomiting, colic and acute diarrhea can occur, which has made this oil have been used as a tool of punishment and torture (in addition to its unpleasant taste). In addition, the application of castor oil in mixtures to induce labor has been described.

Likewise, castor oil is a product that is part of the manufacture of plastics, lacquers, paints, lubricants and cosmetics. It is also often used in cosmetics to lengthen the eyelashes ”. Wikipedia source

Logically, this use is only interesting and effective with a quality organic cold-pressed oil.

Castor oil, when its refining process is ecological or by cold pressing, has a series of interesting cosmetic properties for the health of the skin:

-It is suitable for the treatment of oily and acne-prone skin due to its high content of ricinoleic acid and its ability to regulate the lipid layer of the skin.

-It is anti-aging due to its high content of vitamin E and natural antioxidants which are said to activate the production of skin collagen and elastin.

-It is anti-stretch marks and hydrates and regenerates all skin types, also sensitive and reactive skin.

Promotes the growth and thickness of hair, eyelashes and eyebrows.
Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it very useful in fighting acne, remedying styes, and mitigating arthritis symptoms.

Improves lymphatic drainage favoring fluid circulation; That is why it is frequently used in body massages and as a carrier oil for plant extracts and essential oils.


From the shelled seeds of Ricinus communis L. (castor beans), which have an oil content of 40-50%, castor oil can be obtained by a mechanical cold-pressing process. Although the quality of cold-pressed castor oil is better, it is also possible to use a hot-pressing method, which advantageously increases the degree of extraction *.

THE HOT PROCESS usually uses a solvent, hexane, to promote extraction, and as we anticipated before, although after refining the oil is also used for medicinal purposes, it is not possible to guarantee the same level of therapeutic quality. *

In the hot process, the beans are heated before being pressed and then put into a screw press, resulting in crude oil and castor press cake. The toxic ricin does not stay in the oil, but in the press cake, which makes the oil bioavailable as well.

We hope that this article has helped you to better understand the different extraction and refining processes of vegetable oils and the importance of demanding, as consumers, better and more ecological extraction and refining methods that avoid health and skin problems for people and life on the planet.

Thanks for reading 😊

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