Castor oil: Usage and the versatile facettes
Castor oil is a familiar cosmetic item and is used in natural medicine, cosmetics and even for the production of eyewear as a sustainable alternative to fossil oil based polymers.
Castor oil in eyewear? If you’re thinking this is some kind of hoax, that would be completely understandable. But we are totally serious about it. In fact, castor oil is the primary raw material used for our 100% bio-based natural3D material which we use in our 3D printing process.
You’ve probably heard of castor oil, but who’s familiar with the details of this multi-purpose liquid? We interviewed pharmacist Alexander Ehrmann from the St. Charles pharmacy to see what he has to say about the properties and uses of castor oil.
What is the process like in the production of castor oil?
Alexander Ehrmann: “Our high-quality castor oil is obtained through cold pressing. The press cake contains over 10 percent oil, which is then extracted.
After removing the solvent residues, the press cake only contains approximately 1 percent oil and can then be used. Press cake or oil cake is the by-product produced during the manufacture of vegetable oil according to the cold pressing principle. The components of the press cake are the solids remaining after pressing the oil seeds and fruits and the unpressed oil portion. We also carry out various cleaning processes to further improve the quality of the freshly squeezed castor oil.”
What are the characteristics of castor oil?
Alexander Ehrmann: “Castor oil comes from the seeds of the African Miracle Tree (Ricinus communis). In contrast to the seeds of the plant, the oil obtained from it is completely non-toxic and for this reason, has a wide range of uses in both natural medicine and cosmetics.
It's laxative effect is well-known. It’s also recommended to use the oil for skin and hair care, as the essential fatty acids that the oil contains help in restoring moisture.”
Is there anything to consider during storage?
Alexander Ehrmann: “Organic castor oil should be stored in dark glass bottles in a cool and dark place. To prevent oxidation, the lid should be screwed on tightly.”
Can you use the oil pure, or are there other aspects to consider when using it?
Alexander Ehrmann: “Castor oil should not be used pure over a large area, as it would dry out the skin too much. It can be mixed with other nourishing oils. At St. Charles pharmacy we like to use almond oil and jojoba oil for this. In this case, castor oil should make up about 10–35 percent of the mixture.”
What are the application points of castor oil in cosmetics?
Alexander Ehrmann: “There are many possible uses for castor oil. It is used in cosmetics because of its high-quality ingredients. From hair conditioners and nail care products to bath additives or lipsticks, the oil can be found in a wide range of products. In addition to hair care the oil has long been used to treat dandruff, scars, and age spots.”
Are there different types of castor oils? How is it that castor oil is used in so many areas, such as cosmetics or eyewear production?
Alexander Ehrmann: “There are two types of castor oils. Cold-pressed castor oil extracted from castor seeds is the lighter, cleaner, and thinner form. Jamaican black castor oil, on the other hand, the castor seeds are roasted to produce the oil. Jamaican black castor oil is often used for a normal scalp and thick hair, but it is also used as a cleansing oil. The cold-pressed oil is, therefore, used more often for skincare.”
Not only is castor oil used in the cosmetic industry but more and more production processes include castor oil as well, since it is a great alternative for plastic and polymers that are being used in most general products. We always thrive to find a better and more sustainable way to produce our eyewear and wanted to make a difference with the materials that we use for our sunglasses and optical frames.
Why has neubau switched to castor oil for the production of eyewear?
It’s no secret that plastic is extremely damaging to the environment. Nowadays it’s common for eyewear to be constructed from petroleum-based plastic. A seemingly harmless pair of glasses can wreak havoc on the environment. This is because it takes hundreds of years to break down while simultaneously affecting all aspects of the food chain.
In light of this, we have developed two new materials derived from the castor beans. Both of these materials use castor oil as a main component and are even more eco-friendly than regular petroleum-based plastics.
How do we use castor oil for our eyewear?
The new materials that we are using are called naturalPX and natural3D. 65% of our naturalPX is made up of oil extracted from the castor beans. The remaining 35% is conventional polymer which is needed to reinforce the strength and elasticity of the material. naturalPX is used in an injection molding production process. Nearly 90% of the used material turns into eyewear frames, the rest can be recycled. naturalPX doesn’t just help us minimize our carbon footprint, it also allows us to design and manufacture high-performance eyewear in a wide range of stylish colors and finishes.
natural3D is a 100% bio-based polymer made from castor oil beans which we use in our 3D printing process. It's a zero waste process, as any remaining powder can be reused for another printing job or can be recycled. After each batch has been printed, 50% of the residue powder can be mixed with new powder to create a new batch of products or printing filaments. This production method does not require any extra tools, so it also saves on resources.
What are the benefits of using castor oil for the production of eyewear?
There are many advantages of using castor oil as a component in production. Here we'll examine some of the most important benefits.
natural3D is a 100% bio-based polymer made from non genetically modified castor oil beans which we use in our 3D printing process. This material is not only derived from a renewable source, it also enables us to produce the frames without creating solid or cutting waste, so the whole process leaves an extremely small ecological footprint.
Castor oil is renewable and bio-based, this means it’s also sustainable. It can be used as a resource today without compromising the needs of future generations.
The natural3D material, composed of castor oil and used for our new collection, feels great to the touch. Our Côte du Soleil collection is also made of the natural3D material. Small pores on its surface ensure it’s incredibly smooth and therefore comfortable to wear.
Tiny surface pores on natural3D glasses mean that the eyewear doesn’t just feel great, it looks amazing too. The 3D printer enables all possible shapes, color variations, radiant colors, and innovative designs.
Eyewear made from castor oil is 30 percent lighter than those that are made from plastic. This increases comfort for everyday wear. It’s possible you’ll even forget you’re wearing glasses.
Tough and Flexible
The durability of our natural3D eyewear lies in the fact that it’s both flexible and strong, so we can guarantee that our glasses will remain in shape.