The Latin name of the cotton plant, which belongs to the mallow family - Malvaceae - is Gossypium. Cotton is a perennial crop with high-quality cotton fibers primarily used in the textile industry. At the same time, cotton is also an ancient plant cultivated in different regions for thousands of years. It has resulted in many other species, but not all are suitable for cotton production. Gossypium herbaceum is the name of the cotton species from which you extract cottonseed oil. This cotton type originated on the African continent and was first found in the Syrian-Arabian region.
The cotton bush can grow up to 1.5 meters and flowers in different colors - white, yellow, pale pink, and purple. In full bloom, the cotton bush resembles a hibiscus, which also belongs to the mallow family. After the flowering period, seed kernels grow inside the capsule, 6 to 9 millimeters in size, forming long, woolly, dense fibers. Once ripe, the seed pod bursts open, allowing the fibers to sag, making them a plush cotton ball.
The cotton fibers can grow up to 40 millimeters long, with seeds and fibers forming in capsule-like fruits. It takes 50 days for the walnut-sized pods to mature and grow into fist-sized pods of seed hair after the three-month flowering period. At first, the cotton fibers are still fragile due to moisture. Once dry, they gain stability. Each fruit capsule carries around 30 seeds, each of which can have up to 7,000 seed hairs attached.
Long fibers and downy hairs cover the seeds. The cotton fibers consist of 90 percent cellulose, covered with a thin layer of cotton wax that protects them from weather influences. The growing conditions are ideal at temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees. In addition to warmth, the cotton bush loves a dry climate. During the ripening period, a lot of moisture degrades the quality of the fibers. The regions where cotton grows can be summarized under the "Cotton Belt," extending from the 32nd degree of latitude south to the 37th degree of latitude north.
China and India are essential countries producing cottonseed oil, and to a much smaller percentage also the southern United States and Turkey.
For cottonseed oil, you must separate the fibers from the hidden seeds. You need around 3 to 5 kilograms of cotton seeds for one liter of cottonseed oil. The sources are first carefully cleaned and then mechanically crushed so that the cores separate from the seed pods. You press the seeds for cottonseed oil, yielding around 15 to 30 percent. Cottonseed oil is obtained through oil mills and extraction using carbon disulfide as a solvent.
The resulting crude oil is dark, cloudy, tan in color, greasy, and dense, with a density of 0.917 to 0.928 grams per cubic centimeter. At this stage, the taste is slightly bitter and, at the same time, sweet with a scratchy aftertaste. For this reason, you first refine crude oil to filter out proteins and harmful substances, such as the slightly toxic gossypol. The cotton plant produces it and serves as protection against insect infestation.
The crude oil is bleached with caustic potash, decolorized, deacidified, and degummed to receive a high-quality oil with a straw-yellow color. The end product has an earthy scent and a slightly nutty taste. It solidifies at temperatures between 2 and 0 degrees Celsius. The finished cottonseed oil is not soluble in alcohol but in ether. The residues left over from the pressing process are also used and further processed into fodder.
To understand how cottonseed oil works, it is essential to look closely at the ingredients. Key ingredients in cottonseed oil include:
All the ingredients mentioned achieve a positive effect in different areas. Here is an overview of which active ingredients affect the body and how:
Effect of cottonseed oil on skin and hair
Vitamin E positively affects the skin's moisture balance and can counteract aging. Overall, cottonseed oil supports cell processes. Due to its composition, it not only has a positive effect on the skin but also on the hair. Above all, the high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids offers a high care potential and supports healthy hair growth. Cottonseed oil is, therefore, suitable for regenerating particularly stressed hair damaged by bleaching or coloring or is simply dry and porous. The same applies to people with dehydrated skin or older people whose skin becomes more supple again with cottonseed oil.
The reason for the regenerative effect of the oil on skin and hair is that phytosterols influence collagen synthesis and inhibit elastin breakdown in the cells. It increases the moisture content and slows down the aging process in the cells. Vitamin E supports the regeneration process, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals. At the same time, cottonseed oil has a cleansing effect on the scalp and skin. It removes toxins, reduces skin irritations, and prevents dryness.
Cottonseed oil in cosmetics
The cosmetic industry uses cottonseed oil due to the described effect. You can often use it as a skin and haircare product base oil. Thanks to the skin-smoothing, antioxidant, and moisturizing effect of vitamin E, cottonseed oil is particularly suitable for mature or dry skin. A moisturizing and cooling effect characterizes the warmer season.
Health benefits of cottonseed oil
The positive effect of phytosterols on cholesterol levels has been scientifically proven. These are secondary plant substances in cottonseed oil, sunflower seeds, sesame, and wheat germ. Taking phytosterols can lead to a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.
In addition, cottonseed oil contains oleic acid. It is an omega-9 fatty acid found in vegetable fats. Oleic acid is known for regulating cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. In particular, it reduces the LDL cholesterol, while the HDL cholesterol levels remain almost unaffected. It is also proven that oleic acid promotes the elasticity of blood vessels, as well as the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other. Oleic acid furthermore boosts brain function and fights infection.
It is worth mentioning that high gossypol concentrations in cottonseed oil can lead to poisoning, which can manifest itself in the form of weakness, apathy, and shortness of breath. It is all the more important to pay attention to quality when buying oil. In addition, cotton is not a food crop, so the legal requirements regarding its cultivation are less strict. When growing cotton, more and more pesticides are used, which get into the organism via the cottonseed oil. That is why using cottonseed oil as fodder and for human consumption in cooking is controversial.