Ever since Man took over at the helm of "science", oil has played a truly remarkable and overwhelming role. In the midst of the civilization upheaval the share of oil, from various sources, extended to lightening, food, machineries and cosmetics and medicinal fields.
The study, research and application of oil as a medicine have been a part of ' Ayurveda' - the Indian version of natural medicine science. Ayurvedic oils have had a history of over thousands of years.
There are many sources of oil; one such source is seeds from the plants. The oils present in seeds amounting less than 20% are termed as essential oils. Ayurveda has greatly used essential oils for medicinal purposes.
Ancient Indian Ayurveda adopted methods like oil extraction by 'charkha' (charak yantram) and pulverization. 'Charkha' or charak yantram was invented by 'Rishi Charakh\u2019, which was employed for extraction of oil for medicinal purposes. Another methods for oil extraction are by pulverization of the oil seed. The pulverization was carried out in such a way that the fibers in the seed glands will not broken and simultaneously oil is extracted. Pulverization employed an oval shape vessel with sharp end. The seeds were pulverized with the help of a heavy roller type equipment which was hand operated. The strokes were in harmony with
Another method is oil extraction is \u201c Decoction \u201d. Decoction is the method in which following procedure is followed. Water about 16 lit and oil seed about 1/4th part of water are boiled together till the water is reduced to 4 liters. This is followed by treatment with "til oil". It is notable here that the til oil is used as a solvent. Another advantage of using til oil is that it works as a smoothening agent. When this mixture is applied to a wound, the til oil would prevent the rashes on the skin, which would have been formed by using the concerned medicinal oil alone.
Yet another method worth considering is the wet cloth containing oil seed held over the boiling water in an enclosed vessel. This method resembles way much to the modern solvent extraction method. The oil seed are held in the wet cloth above boiling water enclosed in a vessel. The steam rising through the cloth and condensing back causes the seed to spill the oil, which is collected.
Ayurveda makes the use of oil seed as a whole while chemical engineering deals which the oil alone. With the advent of modern technology and availability of equipments, oil extraction has gained major commercial importance. The oil seed containing more than 20% of oil content may be extracted by direct crushing. Most of the edible oils are extracted by direct crushing. The solvent extraction process is widely used now days. The oil seed are held over a perforated plate or a mesh (depending upon the size of seeds). The solvent present in the same vessel is boiled and evaporated.
These vapors are condensed and made to fall over the oil seeds. The solvent thus extracts the oil and is also recovered. The process will be described in detail in further chapters. The main advantage of using solvent is its recovery, which is about 98%. Another advantage is that the oil extraction from seeds, which is not possible by crushing, can be mostly extracted by solvent extraction.
Extraction equipments may be broadly classified as crushing equipments and solvent extractors. Both ancient and modern sciences use their own equipments for oil extraction. As stated previously the ancient science (Ayurveda) made use of 'Charak yantram\u2019, which resembles much with the solvent extraction and the pulverization, which is direct crushing. Also modern Ayurveda uses the technique of decoction in which the 'til oil' is used as a solvent.
Modern chemical engineering equipments also employ crushers (hammer mills, ball mills etc). This process extracts oil from seeds or material having oil content more than 20%. When oil extraction is not possible by simple crushing then the solvent extractors are employed. Solvent extractors may be classified as a continuous or batch mode depending on the type of material handled, oil content and even economic considerations. The oldest and the most widely used continuous extractors are the 'bucketed' Ballman's extractor and a Rotocell. The equipments will be described in detail in further chapters.
The batch extractors are of resent origin. Essential oils have a great value in market and are costlier. The requirement of essential oils is generally low. Hence batch extractors prove more economical than continuous extractors as only
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