Is there such a thing as Aloe Oil?
This question came up last week and for as usual I thought about it for a moment then said ‘yes of course, I have bought it – dispersed in soya oil but Aloe Oil never the less’ but then I thought on a bit further.
Here’s one of my pots of Aloe. My plant has had so many babies I’ve got Aloe all over the house which is nice but I’m a bit worried that I’ll run out of places to put the babies and I wouldn’t want that!
So what was the Aloe Oil I bought?
On further investigation I discovered that the Aloe Oil that I’d used in the past was soya bean oil (which I already knew) infused with Aloe Vera Juice Powder. Interesting but not quite what I thought Aloe Oil would be.
Where is the oil in Aloe?
Being a succulent herb Aloe is more water than oil but it does still contain some oily components – fatty acids. These are actually bound up in the watery juice part which does shine some light on why the Aloe Oil I purchased was an infusion of the juice.
Before we get too excited about Aloe being a great source of fats it looks like the fatty acid component of Aloe is less than 1% of the total chemistry of the plant – that’s pretty tiny and is probably why people don’t tend to sell straight out Aloe Oil. Too expensive to produce and not worth it! (Chemical constitution, health benefits and side effects of Aloe vera. Indian Journal of Research. Dr Sanjay Sharma. 2015)
Aloe fatty acids are typically Lauric (2%+-), Myristic (3%+-), Palmitic (40% +-), Stearic (15%+-), Oleic (7%+-), Linoleic (12%+-) and Linolenic (18%+-) (Effect of Heat Stress on Fatty Acids Profiles of Aloe vera and Bryophyllum pinnatum Leaves.Mushtaq Ahmad, Hasnain 1 2 Nangyal, Sikandar 3Khan Sherwani,Ziaul Islam and 1Safdar Hussain Shah. World Applied Sciences Journal 28 2013)
The first paper mentioned here investigates what happens to the fatty acids in Aloe when the plant is heat stressed. It shows the level of saturated fats rises in times of high heat while the unsaturated fat levels fall. The writer hypothesizes that the saturated fats could be protecting the plant from heat stress.
The second paper mentions some other fatty constituents of the Aloe including Archidonic Acid and sterols (such as cholesterol) – both of these fatty materials are naturally found as components of cell membranes and could contribute to Aloes healing power – but keep in mind they will be present in tiny proportions.
So what should I look out for when I purchase Aloe Oil next time?
It is most likely the Aloe Oil will be from the powdered gel and will be dispersed in a carrier oil. The carrier oil could be anything so check this out and make sure it is suitable for your application (organic/ long shelf-life/ nut free/ sustainable/ cost-effective etc). The blend may or may not be supplied with Vitamin E added. Natural vitamin E is an antioxidant and may be needed to preserve the ‘freshness’ of the carrier oil.
It is possible (though less likely) that the Aloe Oil will be 100% Aloe, extracted from the plant. I would expect this to be quite expensive and would also expect it to have been produced using a solvent of some kind to help improve the yield. That solvent could (theoretically) be Carbon Dioxide (Co2 extraction) or may be hexane or similar. Do check that out so you have confidence the product matches your product philosophy.
So that’s it really.
Aloe Oil is a thing but usually it will be an oil dispersion rather than a pure oil.