Castor oil is one of the most widely used plant extracts in the world. The plant hails from the warm regions of India, and now grows in most Mediterranean and tropical zones. The largest exporters of castor oil include India, Brazil and China, and it is one of the primary exports of Ethiopia. Castor seeds have been found inside ancient Egyptian tombs and the plants medicinal properties have been written about by Herodotus, an ancient Greek Historian.
The castor plant is a large, leafy, tropical-looking plant with red or green beans. The castor bean is not a true bean; it is a thick round seed with small bumps on the surface. The seeds and possibly leaves (depending on the plants growth) of the castor bean plant are poisonous, containing ricin proteins. In fact, raw castor beans can cause illness and even kill a child. The seeds of the plant contain approximately 60% vegetable oil, which is rich with ricinolein, a glyceride of ricinoleic acid. This is the part that is extracted for manufacturing.
As a topical treatment, castor oil is also widely used for skin health and beauty. Massaging the body with castor oil prior to a bath once a week will help the skin retain its natural healing properties as well as stimulate the muscles and internal organs. Rubbing castor oil on hands and feet at night will help maintain healthy and soft skin, as well as reduce callous and dry skin. Most lotions include castor oil and other ingredients, such as coconut oil and aloe. This benefits of castor oil for skin beauty is something many people are already doing but not aware that they are actually using castor oil!
Incorporating castor oil into your soap making recipe will add the following characteristics to your finished product:
Bubbly lather Yes
Creamy/Stable lather Yes
The lather it produces is what really makes castor oil such an appealing ingredient for soap making. You need to actually try using castor oil soap to truly appreciate how wonderful the lather is... I can guarantee you won't be disappointed! In addition to the wonderful lather, the conditioning and moisturizing properties that it will add is a great bonus for using castor oil for soap making.