Castor wax: Hydrogenated castor oil

This article explains properties, manufacturing process and various uses of castor wax which is a derivative of pure castor oil. It is used in cosmetics, hair care products and also as top coat varnish on various products.


Castor wax is derived from castor oil. It is also known as hydrogenated castor oil (HCO). This vegetable wax is a little hard in consistency. It neither carries any odor nor can be dissolved in water. It is tasteless. It forms a smooth emulsion when mixed with emulsifiers. It is also compatible with number of other waxes like carnauba wax, beeswax and candelilla wax. Castor wax remains insoluble in most of the solvents. However, at higher temperature it dissolves in certain solvents and oils. Once cooled it takes the form of a gel or a paste. It is highly compatible with other animal, vegetable and mineral waxes.

Production of castor wax

Castor wax is produced by a process known as hydrogenation. This process involves chemical combination with element hydrogen and hence the name. Pure castor oil undergoes hydrogenation in presence of a nickel catalyst. Process of hydrogenation raises melting point. It also improves odor, taste and other qualities of resulting product. In this process, hydrogen gas is bubbled into castor oil. Resulting product so obtained gives a viscous waxy consistency which is nothing but castor wax. High concentration of nickel catalyst is required for good results. Reaction taking place is exothermic.

Uses of castor wax

  1. Castor wax is used in polyurethane coating formulation which is applied as a top coat varnish for various products like leather, rubber, wooden furniture etc.

  2. Added to different waxes as a binding agent.

  3. Added to bees wax and the resulting product obtained is used for encaustic painting.

  4. Used in various soaps and detergents as an emulsifier.

  5. Not only it is insoluble in water, but also retains its properties of lubrication and surface wetting. This is the reason that it has gained popularity in lubricant markets. It is used as a metal drawing lubricant and also as multipurpose industrial greases.

  6. Used in manufacture of liquid soaps.

  7. It acts as an agent which resists moisture, oil and various petrochemical products. Thus, it is used in manufacturing of cosmetic products like deodorants, foundations, creams, lip care products, lotions etc. Also used in manufacturing of various coating, greases, polishes.

  8. Its use in electrical capacitors and carbon paper is very well known.

  9. It acts as an agent which helps to release pressure mould in the process of manufacturing of rubber goods and formed plastics.

  10. It is also used in hair dressing products.


Castor wax which in nothing but hydrogenated castor oil is vegetable-derived and manufactured from pure castor oil. It is hard, brittle, tasteless, odorless and insoluble in water and most of the solvents and thus is very popularly used in various cosmetics and hair care products as an emollient and as thickener. It raises melting point of lip care products and also makes creams and lotions more viscous. It is a non-hygroscopic organic derivative of pure castor oil manufactured by hydrogenation process in presence of nickel catalyst. It has a good shelf life and its uses in various industries make it a very popular product.

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