Carrier oil, popular organic bath and beauty product additive, is plant oil derived from the fatty portion of a plants, usually seeds, kernels or the nuts. Great way to make sure your bath and beauty products have an edge is to use high quality carrier oils. There are few things to watch out for when choosing good carrier oil. Viscosity, color and aroma are obvious things to look for but they do not tell the whole story. Content, stability and extraction process is what really reflects carrier oil quality.
High quality carrier oil is very stable and does not go rancid easily. Tendency of carrier oil to go rancid is determined by its antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids content. The more antioxidants carrier oil has, the more it is protected from oxidation and less likely to go bad. The more fatty acids carrier oil has the more stable it is and less likely to spoil. So you really want to look at that label and pick carrier oils with good antioxidant, mineral and fatty acid content. Another thing that is important is how carrier oil was extracted. Extraction method directly reflects carrier oil quality as it affects percentage of fatty acids and antioxidants lost during production. The more stress carrier oil is put under during extraction, such as heat, chemicals and over-processing, the greater antioxidants, mineral and fatty acid loss, the lower the stability and the lower the quality.
Carrier oils are extracted by one of three common extractions:
a) Cold extraction
b) Hot extraction
c) Solvent extraction
Each yields vastly different quality of carrier oils.
Cold extraction yields carrier oil by ‘cold pressing’ of plant’s seeds, kernels or nuts. While individual industrial setup may vary, most commonly plant seeds, kernels and nuts are placed in a horizontal press with a rotating screw known as an ‘expeller’ and pressed around until carrier oil is squeezed out. Heat generated due to pressing friction is negligible, so loss of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals is minimal. After cold extraction, carrier oil is filtered and sold as a finished product. Because it takes time an effort to extract carrier oil while preserving ingredients that give it high quality, cold extraction is restricted to relatively small scale production. Consequently carrier oil extracted though this process is costly but has the highest quality.
Hot extraction is one of the most wide spread and widely used large scale industrial carrier oil processes. As the name implies it uses heat to get carrier oil from plant’s seeds, kernels or the nuts. Along with friction pressing of seeds, kernels or the nuts hot extraction uses high heat to increase the ease, the speed of the yield of extracted carrier oil. The temperatures used can reach up to 200° C which destroys and decreases the concentration of important antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids in carrier oil. This in turn decreases the quality of carrier oil. The final product is cooled off, bottled, often adjusted with industrial preservatives. Because of high yield and record time to produce carrier oil, hot extraction process is very affordable, fast and popular and therefore widely used. The carrier oil it generates is of lower quality as it has a low concentration of benefit giving antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids.
The third carrier oil production method is solvent extraction. Instead of using plant’s seeds, kernels and nuts, this method uses waste products, ‘cakes’ of compressed plant material, left over from cold and hot extraction. There cakes are re-processed and treated with solvents to extract that left over carrier. The solvents used further destroy and decrease the concentration of important antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids. This means the end product is carrier oil of the lowest quality. To enhance shelf life, appearance and aroma, carrier oil extracted by this method is re-heated again, refined, deodorized, bleached, and preservatives and vitamins added, then bottled off and shipped to market. By far the cheapest way to produce carrier oil, solvent extraction is as affordable and as popular as hot extraction. These highly refined, solvent extracted oils usually end up on supermarket shelves for use in cooking and totally unsuitable to use in organic and natural beauty care and aromatherapy.
Your best bet is to go for cold extracted carrier oils as they have highest quality due to minimal antioxidants and fatty acid loss. As much as possible, avoid carrier oils extracted by chemical and heat processing. They have low quality due to moderate to significant antioxidants and fatty acids loss. For the most nourishing, highest quality, carrier oils your best bet is go to retailers and suppliers that specialize in natural skin care ingredients and products.
For more great tips, ideas and great variety of products made with high quality carrier oils feel free check Nina Bella Collection organic and natural products. Ask us about our high quality organic carrier oils – we will be more than happy to share!