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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.”

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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.

Neubau production 3 D printing

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.

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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.

Bio-based

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.

Ergo­nom­ic

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.

Aes­thet­ic

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.

Light­weight

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.

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