Friday, 15 February 2013

Clear Castor Oil or Black Castor Oil - What is the Difference?

I know many of you are fans of castor oil and a common question that you ask me is if there is a difference between the clear store bought castor oil and black castor oil/ Jamaican black castor oil (JBCO). I finally have an answer for you!

1. Natural Castor Oil is Yellow

Natural castor oil is actually pale yellow when cold pressed. Cold pressing means there is no heat involved, castor beans are just squeezed at high pressure to extract oil out of the seed.  The advantage of cold pressing is that you do not degrade any of the oil using heat.

The clear castor oil that you find in some shops is a result of filtering this natural yellow crude castor oil to further lower the iodine content which makes it yellow (Sains Malaysiana,pp 379-382, 2008). The higher the purity of the castor oil the lighter the colour it will be.

Do note that cold pressing is not the only technique used to extract oil though, industrially some chemical solvents can be used, and the advantage of that is that it is less time consuming. The disadavantage is that with more people looking for more natural products, the idea that a chemical was used to produce the oil is not that attractive.

2. Black Castor Oil - Impurities are added

Many people believe that Jamaican black castor oil is more natural and the black colour is related to it being less processed, but this is not true. The process of getting the dark colour involves adding ash from roasted castor beans into the oil (Bioresource Technology, pp 1086–1091, 2006).  This is the description from Sunny Isle JBCO

'Our Organic seeds are roasted and ground by a manual Grinder and then the crushed beans are boiled to extract the 100% pure, dark brown, organic oil. Compared to other brands it is the darkest Jamaican Black Castor Oil because we roast our beans longer which produces more Ash Content in our oil than any other oil on the market.'

I referred to the ash as an impurity because it is an addition to the oil rather than just the pure oil. Does this mean that JBCO is not good? No, it just means that it is not pure castor oil. Is the addition of ash beneficial? This is not known scientifically, it is definitely what the manufacturers claim.

So there you have it, the reason why JBCO is black! Oh and I found this video of cold pressing castor beans to make castor oil!


37 comments:

  1. The difference for me is in the viscosity - JBCO is thinner in consistency and actually makes application to my hair much easier.

    With the clear types (sometimes referred to as Indian?) I find that the oil is way stickier and trying to use this on my hair can actually result in more damage - the gumminess makes it more prone to breaking when I handle it or smooth it back etc..

    Both seem to have a similar moisturising effect on my hair though - castor oil is one of my few staples!

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  2. Maybe that's the reason my scalp does not like JBCO. I ordered the yellow last week after deciding that the JBCO and I just don't get along. Not to mention I kept thinking that someone had been smoking around me even though I knew no one had! LOL

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  3. Awesome! Thank you for clarifying this for me. My parents are from Haiti and growing up I've been familiar with the black castor.

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    1. I am Haitian too... and I am going back to my stinky black castor oil. I forgot about it for a while. I remember how good it was on my hair.

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  4. Aha! I was right to just buy cold pressed hexane free (and cheaper priced) castor oil! Wow I'm sure a lot of "naturals" won't like hearing that JBCO isn't pure. I really like CO, I use it weekly in my deep conditioner and as a sealer. I think my hair is thriving due to the use of castor oil.

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    1. It might not be pure oil, but it is 'natural'!

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    2. Ang, what is your deep conditioning/weekly hair routine? I'd like to incorporate castor oil but I'm not sure when would be best. Thanks so much!

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    3. The JBCO is a vastly different product to me. That ash does something. I tried the organic clear version first and there is just no comparison to the JBCO

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  5. Maybe this is why I like the yellow castor oil (I use the NOW brand) versus the JBCO. Huh! Very interesting, thank you for this!

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    1. What type of results using the NOW castor oil have you noticed with your hair?

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  6. This is very interesting. In Zambia, our traditional method of making castor oil is also by roasting and it is black. I have wondered for some time whether or not there was any point in importing JBCO as opposed to getting some from the village. But then, I was not convinced that there was any difference between the black and the clear. Thanks for a great article.

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  7. Wow, thanks for sharing. This is really educative.

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  8. I did not like JBCO. Cold pressed castor oil makes my hair soft and leaves no smell. JBCO has a smell and did nothing for my hair. I don't understand the hype.

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  9. No scientist here, but one of my favorite skin care products is African black soap. I use the type that comes in a tub, is super dark brown or black and you pinch or scoop a little bit out with your fingers. It is a solid but it is soft. I don't use the liquid soaps.

    Anyway, I bring this up because one of the things I think is said to be good about the black soap is the ash. Doesn't ash contain sulfur? I read in some countries where there is not plentiful water, they wash themselves with ash... Is this true? I could just be talking crazy, but I'm pretty sure I've heard that somewhere and that that attests to why African black soap is so good for and deep cleanses your skin.

    So, maybe this is akin to the JBCO roasting theory, although, I would think, if you want the least breakdown in the original product as possible, cold pressing it would seem like the way to go because there is no heat involved.

    Alright, I'm sure your science mind will have a field day with this one. Again, I make no claims whatsoever to know what I'm talking about and I am FAR from a scientific mind! I don't even play one on TV ;)

    All God's blessings!
    Aja

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    1. I too love African black soap, but I certainly wouldn't leave it on my skin or hair. I can thus understand why some people find the JBCO to be an irritant.

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  10. Awesome article!

    I use cold-pressed, hexane-free castor oil (Now Solutions Castor Oil or Heritage Products Castor Oil) for my tightly coiled, Afro-textured hair.

    I tried JBCO but didn't like the price or smell. It's good to know it's LESS pure than the clear/slightly yellow castor oil.

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  11. And this is why I love this blog. Clear, well thought out and presented information. Thank you.

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  12. Ah, I learn something new every day. I also believed, like many others, that the black version meant it was purer.

    Thanks for the clarification. Great post.

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  13. I love this article, its full of facts and its good to the cold pressing process in the video!

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  14. Hello, I'm a new reader of your blog. I've been reading about different oils that help seal in moisture from some of your posts but I'm just wondering, does oil really help seal in moisture to hair? What proof is out there to support this? I have dry brittle hair and have been natural all my life. So far I've tried coconut oil, shea butter, glycerin and a bunch of other oils as a hair moisturizing regimen for about a month but nothing changed. My hair was still dry and just as brittle a month later.

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    1. Welcome! You should zip over to 'The Academy' tab above, there are so many links to what you are looking for.

      This is one - http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/2010/02/part-2-necessity-of-oils.html

      I also have dry brittle hair but it has not stopped it from gaining length. I cannot really say it all in a comment, so I will do a post in the next few weeks on the topic.

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  15. Good article, however I use what works not what is "purer" if there is such a thing?

    Unless you grow everything yourself "pure" is a myth that I stopped chasing a LONG time ago where products are concerned.

    I do like knowing how it was extracted n so on but this article will not dissuade me from purchasing JBCO. :)

    I am an awakened consumer that chooses products based on ingredients n depending what I am trying to achieve.

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    1. I think your issue is that yellow castor oil is purer than black which is what you prefer and since you don't want to change you have become defensive because the truth has now been exposed to you. Even growing it yourself really means nothing if your land isn't certified organic by a credible organization. I do not believe the person that wrote this blog was trying to say that one was better than the other only that one is less pure. It is understood that heating up oils etc causes some products to lose health benefits. I do believe this is what the article was trying to point out. Now since I know the difference I will no longer be purchasing black castor oil. And in my opinion yellow is better since its purer.

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  16. I only just now.....infact just this very min heard about the wonders of Cayenne pepper mixed with castor oil for rapid growth....am I the only one who has never come across this lol

    The Cayenne pepper,makes me think my sclap will burn...my scalp isnt sensitive , i am just being paranoid i guess

    What are your thoughts on it? pls REPLYYYYYY

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  17. Hi JC,

    The Ash is not an addition to the oil but a by product of the process of extraction. JBCO is just not as refined as clear castor oil. The process of extraction is manual, unlike the extraction process for other castor oils which is mechanical. The extracted oil is not black but golden brown. The black in the name is a misnomer use to differentiate it from clear castor oil.
    From what I can understand from the paper you reference this is showing the chemical processing of castor oil for biofuel.
    The video aslo shows mechanical processing. This is not how traditional Castor Oil from the Caribbean is made.

    The ash contains manganese, silica and magnesium which are supposed to be beneficial for hair and skin.

    I do agree that leaving this thick oil on the scalp can cause irritation. This oil should be used sparingly and on a clean scalp. Microbes on the scalp love dirt and oil.

    Sunny Isle process their beans for longer than other manufacturers of JBCO, making more ash content so using the advertising campaign of one American company as a reference to how the oil is made is not representative of all traditional JBCO.

    Unfortunately there is no scientific research online to help with any of these manufacturers claims.

    Also BTW Slave brought the castor bean and the methods to extract them from Africa so there will be similarities in extraction.

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    1. Sorry Anon but you are wrong. The paper I referenced clearly states how black castor oil in general is made (please reread it). It does specifically state that black castor oil has ash added from burnt kernel (seeds) which gives it a dark colour,

      I do believe that the idea of burning the seeds and adding ash to the castor oil is indeed a traditional process. I agree that the ash may also result from pressing roasted beans - the burnt kernels are likely to fragment and end up as ash in the oil.

      Without any research (by this I mean scientific experiments published in a journal), it is not possible for me to say that any of the additional ash is beneficial to hair or skin.

      I do think we all know that JBCO is more dark than black but we use the term black because it is in the title - Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

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    2. hi all, hope this might be of some help to guys / gilrs out there ? i am a guy in late fifties, my hair until last couple of years was great, i always kept it longish, it was full and thick but then began to thin out alarmingly quickly, scalp started to show through my hair and generally became thin, and when i saw some photos from a holiday in june 2012 thought shit, i asked my partner her opinion ? she admitted that she had noticed it but was scared to tell me as she knew how much i loved my crowning glory and would be sensitive if she told me, so decided to get my locks cut shorter and choppier to try to hide the thinning, although better was still noticable, i was in Cambridge in sept 2012 and saw a friend i had not seen for years, he,s from a mixed race background and what a head of hair he,s still got, thought wow, anyway we got talking and he told me how well i looked, i told him about my hair thinning, he told me to use jbco, he told me his whole family use it and all have a full head of hair even those in 80,s so i thought what the hell, will give it a go, wow ! some 6 monthts later using every day my hair has regained most of the volume and thicknees it had before, full of volume and but more importantly showing signs of regrowing on the front crown, and after that short choppy style i kept growing it again, went to my longtime hairdresser couple of days ago for a cut and he was amazed, said he could not believe it, how much it had grown and the volume and thickness, and confirmed the 1st signs of re-grotwh, ive been amazed by this product, i also interestingly now use it as my skin care regime, my skin glows and is healthy and almost wrinkle free, i would say to any one give it a try, its so cheap, after 6 monts of daily use i look and feel like a different person, it worked for me, i cant promise anything but hey it might work for all of you out there, richy

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  18. I hope you all know that adding the ash of the actual product does not make the castor oil impure. Adding any ingredient that is not a product or biproduct would make it impure. That's like suggesting the ash of human is not human. Please do not get caught up on the semantics here. There are benefits in ash. Ash is in black soap, it's the very thing that makes the soap far more beneficial for your skin than using "pure" shea butter soap. There is ash in animal food, clay masks, and other facial products. Ash contains and maintains the minerals of the item burned. That is however scientifically proven. Now whether the ash is worth the extra in cash is a personal preference. Black Castor oil is a pure product that includes the ash of beans used to extract the oil!

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  19. As a natural hair care stylist, naturally I have clients who have put the JBCO/Organic cold-pressed pure Castor oil to the test and showed me the result of how it made their hair line grow back in, and their hair does appears thicker which is their desired outcome anyway. No arguments from me. So I came to the conclusion that, because of the oil's thick texture (stick-to-itiveness, ability to stick to strands), level of moisture it adds to the hair, skin and scalp, and the addition of applying scalp massages, (whew) this combination is great!

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  20. All I know is that JBCO certainly made my hair thicker which was not a desired result but not unwelcome and helped the damaged area grow in.

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  21. Ash is not "added" it is produced from the burning of the beans.

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  22. People, just use the product that works for you.

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