In the wake of the tragic bombings in Boston this week, many soapmakers are wondering if customers are going to be wary of buying soap that contains castor oil, since both the vegetable oil and the deadly toxin ricin are produced from the same castor seeds or beans produced by the castor plant, Ricinus commonus
The answer to this question is no. Ricin is a naturally occuring protein which is present in the seeds, but the extreme heat used during the oil extraction process denatures or deactivates the protein, leaving it harmless.
I personally was not given castor oil as a child, but if you ask your parents or grandparents you will probably find someone who was, as it was for many years a traditional remedy for constipation.
So, no need to worry if you check the label of your favourite soap and find castor oil on it…it’s perfectly safe.