extraction and making of neem oil

Neem oil is an overly useful vegetable oil with a wide range of applications and uses. This oil is pressed from the seeds and fruits of neem tree- an evergreen tree in the Indian subcontinent. Neem oil comes in different color variations as it can either be yellowish brown, golden brown, greenish brown, bright red or dark brown. The oil has a strong odor as it combines the smells of garlic and peanut. The quality of the oil depends on the neem oil making process and approaches adopted as well as the extraction method used.

Neem oil composition

neem oilNeem oil is composed of triglycerides and contains triterpernoid compounds that account for the bitter taste of the oil. The oil is hydrophobic and is formulated with specific surfactants to emulsify the oil for use and application purposes. The triterpenoid content in neem oil depends on the extraction technology used and the quality of neem seeds or fruits crushed. There are several neem oil making processes that include solvent extraction and pressing/ expelling. Despite these methods been equally efficient, they are unlikely to produce the same proportions of similar components of the oil. The yield of neem oil obtainable through crushing neem seed kernels ranges from between 25% to 45%.
 

Neem oil extraction process

When extracting neem oil from neem seed kernels using crushing/pressing, the incorporating temperature controls are maintained at 40-50C. The primary stages in neem oil involve separating the neem seeds through grade wise separation in respect to the sizes of the seeds and the oil content amount in the seeds.

Neem fruits are collected and the kernels separated for the seeds to be obtained. Then the seeds are dried in the sun or woven dried and fed into an oil extracting machine. They are then crushed and pressed mechanically, and the oil collected in a basin or a drum. Once the oil has settled in the drum, it is then filtered to remove impurities and contaminants and obtain purified neem oil.

When using solvent extraction method for neem oil making, solvents such as white gasoline or petrol are mixed with the seeds. The solvents then extract the neem oil from the seeds up to a specific percent. If need be, the seeds are pressed to produce the highest possible volume of good quality neem oil. For the seeds to produce fine quality oil, it is important to ensure that they are well woven dried to remove all moisture content.

Neem oil uses

Despite neem oil being a vegetable oil, it is not safe for human consumption. As such, the oil cannot be used for cooking. The most common uses of this oil are such as preparing cosmetics like soap, hair products & body creams, treatment of fever, acne and as ayurvedic remedies, in formulating pesticides, and in making mouth wash products. The herbal quality of neem oil is crucial in eradicating virus and bacteria, and as such, the oil is widely used in formulating antiseptics.

Research studies on the internal use of neem oil show that the oil causes liver damage especially in children. In addition to this, pregnant mothers or those trying to conceive should not use neem oil products.

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