Castor oil is a vegetable oil pressed from castor beans. Castor oil is a colorless to very pale yellow liquid with a distinct taste and odor. Its boiling point is 313 °C (595 °F) and its density is 0.961 g/cm3. It is a triglyceride in which approximately 90 percent of fatty acid chains are ricinoleates. Oleate and linoleates are the other significant components.

Castor oil and its derivatives are used in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals, and perfumes.

In the food industry, castor oil (food grade) is used in food additives, flavorings, candy (e.g., polyglycerol polyricinoleate or PGPR in chocolate) as a mold inhibitor, and in packaging. polyoxyethylene castor oil is also used in the food industries.

In India, Pakistan, and Nepal food grains are preserved by the application of castor oil. It stops rice, wheat, and pulses from rotting. For example, the legume pigeon pea is commonly available coated in oil for extended storage.

Skin and hair care

Castor oil has been used in cosmetic products included in creams and as a moisturizer. Small amounts of castor oil are frequently used in cold process soap to increase lathering in the finished bar. It also has been used to enhance hair conditioning in other products and for supposed anti-dandruff properties.