In general terms, oil extraction refers to the process of obtaining oils from animal products, fruits, or even oilseeds. The process is carried out either through rendering, mechanical pressing, or industry-wide application of volatile solvents.
When it comes to oil extraction, hexane is a powerful solvent. Food-grade hexane is used all over the world to extract oil from seeds, and it is safe to use. Here’s what you need to know about the best solvent used to extract oil.
A Quick Look at Hexane and the Oil Extraction Process
In its pure form, hexane is a colorless liquid with a boiling point of up to 70 degrees centigrade. The solvent is fairly non-toxic and does not produce any poisonous fumes. Industries all over the world are now using hexane to extract oil from oilseeds.
The process of oil extraction begins by removing impurities from oilseeds. Some of the most widely used oilseeds include rapeseed and soybean. In the next step, the seeds are cracked in order to reduce their size. After cracking, the seeds are then flattened in order to increase their surface area.
Industry-grade hexane is then added to the oilseeds. Once hexane has extracted the oil, the mixture is then evaporated with the help of steam. Companies either use the direct method or the indirect method to boil away hexane from the mixture.
After hexane has been evaporated, the mixture is then condensed in order to recover the solvent once again. The end results are oilseeds that have been deprived of oil and the recycled hexane that can be used to extract oil one more time.
The Use of Solvents vs. Other Methods of Extraction
As stated earlier, using solvents is not the only way to extract oil from oilseeds. The two other methods used in oil extraction include expeller pressing and hydraulic press. Out of the three methods, the use of solvents is the best technique for oil extraction.
Solvents such as hexane are capable of extracting the maximum possible quantity of oil from oilseeds. The process of condensation ensures that hexane does not leave the system, and that it is recycled and reused.
The process of oil extraction by using solvents is much cheaper compared to the pressing method. It allows companies to produce oil in bulk in order to meet the growing needs of their customers. Finally, the oil produced through solvent-based extraction is extremely low in sedimentation.
Why Choose Hexane?
Unlike other solvents, hexane has certain properties that make it the ideal choice for oil extraction processes.
Hexane can extract more oil from oilseeds compared to ethyl acetate and ether
With its low boiling point, hexane can retain its liquid states even in cold climates
The solvent requires very little energy to extract oil from oilseeds
When pitted against other solvents, hexane causes the least skin irritability
Hexane can extract vegetable oil without disturbing the nutrient content of vegetables
The solvent does not give off an odor or pungent smell