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The Process of Extracting Vegetable Oil

The Process of Extracting Vegetable Oil

The process of extracting vegetable oil from oil seeds is not complex. Take a look at the steps and decide for yourself if this is a "food" you want to consume:
1. Oil seeds such as soybean, rapeseed, cotton, and sunflower are gathered. Most of these seeds are from plants that have been genetically engineered to resist the huge amounts of pesticides applied to them.
2. The seeds are husked and cleaned of dirt and dust, then crushed.
3. The crushed seeds are then heated to temperatures between 110 degrees and 180 degrees in a steam bath to start the oil extraction process.
4. The seeds are put through a high volume
oil press which uses high heat and friction to press the oil from the seed pulp.
5. The seed pulp and oil are then put through a hexane solvent bath and steamed again to squeeze out more oil.
Note: Hexane is produced by the refining of crude petroleum oil. It is a mild anesthetic. Inhalation of high concentrations produces first a state of mild euphoria, followed by sleepiness with headaches and nausea. Chronic intoxication from hexane has been observed in recreational solvent abusers and in workers in the shoe manufacturing, furniture restoration and automobile construction industries where hexane is used as glue. The initial symptoms are tingling and cramps in the arms and legs, followed by general muscular weakness. In severe cases, atrophy of the skeletal muscles is observed, along with a loss of coordination and problems of vision. In 2001, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued regulations on the control of emissions of hexane gas due to its potential carcinogenic properties and environmental concerns.
6. Now the seed/oil mixture is put through a centrifuge and phosphate is added to begin the separation of the oil and seed residues.
7. After solvent extraction, the crude oil is separated and the solvent is evaporated and recovered. The seed pulp residues are conditioned and reprocessed to make by-products such as animal feed.
8. The crude vegetable oil is then put through further oil refining techniques including degumming, neutralization and bleaching.
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