What Is RBD Oil?

RBD or RBDW is “Refined, bleached and deodorized” and the “W” is “winterized”. Is that allowed for “organic” certified? Let’s look at the process of how we get oil from a seed.
Vegetable seeds, all seeds in fact, contain some oil. Nuts have as high an oil content as 74% (macadamias – no wonder they taste so good). Other sources of commercial oils are sunflower seeds, soy beans (beans are seeds . . .), or the seeds from coconuts and palms. We are also familiar with peanut oil, canola oil, and flax seed oil.
Conventionally, all of these oils are extracted from seeds via some combo of heat, pressure and solvents. “Organic” or natural oils are “expeller pressed” – the seeds are mechanically pressed to squeeze out the oil. In commercial, conventional manufacturing plants, the seeds are also treated with hexane, a petrochemical solvent, to get the last little bit of oil out of the seed. In organic operations the use of hexane or other petrochemical solvents is prohibited.
The product of any of these processes is called crude oil. In some cases it is simply filtered and then sold. “Virgin” oils, like “virgin coconut” are crude oils that have been filtered to remove the non-oil remnants from the extraction. Castor is filtered and then boiled to volatilize off any moisture. Unfiltered oils may also be sold – this should be somewhere in the product description. I sell an unfiltered avocado oil that is so dark green it is almost black and it smells just like avocados. RBD avo oil is pale yellow-green and has no distinguishable smell.
Refined oils may go through a number of treatments. In the organic world this may include filtration through diatomaceous earth or fining clay which reduces the color and smell of the oil and a treatment with less than 1/2 % of citric acid. The citric acid binds to metal molecules and allows the refiner to make sure that there are no heavy metals floating around your oil. Finally, winterizing, is a chilling process that brings any waxes to the top and allows them to be removed to ensure that the oil stays as clear as possible.
Personally I recommend refined oils for personal care: they have less of an aroma to conflict with essential oils or other aromatics, they have no heavy metal risk (remember – plants grow in dirt, dirt has all sorts of molecules so heavy metals naturally occur in plant derived products), and they tend to have a better shelf life.
There are different processing details that apply to each of the different types of oils but this is the basic thing that happens to make an RBD or RBDW oil. These letters should appear on the Specification or Certificate of Analysis that should accompany any oil you buy.
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