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Castor oil is obtained from the fruit seed of castor (Ricinus communis L.) a large shrub that grows mainly in India, Brazil and China. The seed has an oil content of 40-50%. Ricinoleic acid is obtained by saponification of castor oil.

Ricinoleic acid is characterized by the presence of an OH group which is responsible for the properties that make it a unique fatty acid and with a high reactivity. Its main use is in the manufacture of soaps, polymer resins, textile finishing and in certain pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.