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A closer look at cosmetic oils – the filtration process.

February 10, 2015

As you will know if you read my post ‘mum, where do oils come from‘ I’ve been playing with squeezing oil out of various things, my latest and greatest triumph being Sunflower Seeds.  The reason I’m doing this is not so that I can become self-sufficient in veggie oils – An hour grinding the oil press is enough to kill that thought – no, for me it’s more about education and about getting closer to the raw materials that us cosmetic chemists take for granted.

Well we managed to squeeze approx 200ml of oil from approx 400g of hulled sunflower seeds the other way – I say approximately as I spilled quite a few seeds when I got over-excited with the grinding handle and the dog licked them before I got a chance to scoop them back up.  I also didn’t accurately weigh the harvested oil.

But the oil wasn’t crystal clear and beautiful……

Sunflower Seed Oil Raw State

The oil looked promising but it wasn’t exactly great as you could clearly see sedimentation and that weird frothing which I later found out is completely normal.

Anyway, I’d read up on oil processing and had for a long time known that oils are passed through a carbon filter to ‘clean’ them.

I wanted to make one so I went to the shops and bought a bag of charcoal barbecue bricks. I attacked one with a knife and placed it in the bottom of my funnel then tried drizzling the oil over it.


Carbonified oil

After trying and failing at this step I took a step back and pondered why I always manage to do everything the hard way, make all of the mistakes and ‘learn’ the blatantly obvious all over again before I actually think.  It didn’t take me long to realise that my skill at being a quick-moving, wrong-doing person is probably what eventually makes me a good teacher and consultant. I know what can go wrong, how it looks and feels, why it didn’t work and what to do next.

Heres a comparison shot of my filtered-through-a-coffee-filter oil and my carbonated oil just so you can see the difference:

Trying to make my own carbon filter


My oil just needed mechanically filtering at this stage.

Charcoal filters are used to reduce colour and odour – neither of which my oil had really.

Plus the carbon used in a filter system is usually a special activated carbon and not barbecue coals…….

I have since discovered that for a small fee I can buy activated carbon filters from a pet shop and so will head down to my local when I have a mo and give them a whirl.

But for now I’m just going to sit back and enjoy my now 40ml of freshly squeezed sunflower seed oil and bask in my awesomeness.

That last comment was a joke, I’m far too busy for basking.

Amanda x

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2015 10:34 am

    Great post!

  2. August 26, 2015 2:01 am

    Hallo Amanda, I’ve got the same problem with my cold pressed oil being murky (full of sedimentation). You said you used a pet shop carbon filter, did it work? Or did the coffee filter do the job?

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink*
      August 26, 2015 9:03 am

      Coffee filter papers worked well – I didn’t track down the right filter from the pet shop but they should work. It might take a couple of tries but mine filtered through quite nicely in the end.

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