The history of vegetable oil production can be tracked down to thousands of years before Christ. At that time, Chinese were making us of soybean oil whereas in the South of the Europe they were using olive oil which was extracted from good quality olives. They realized that because of the sun’s heat oil in the seeds & plants come to the fore, which can be used in cooking. Later, people succeeded in bringing up the idea of pressing and heating the seeds/ plants for oil extraction. In the early 1960s, USA started producing corn oil. Post that there were many other options available such as grape seed oil, cottonseed oil, etc.

The vegetable oil industry expanded & thrived at a very fast pace due to the development of oil presses as well as introduction of innovative methodologies. Initially, only mortar and pestle were used for extracting the oils. But then, Greeks and Romans made their contribution by bringing lever and screw presses in use. Over the centuries, oil extraction technology has evolved substantially and now there are different types of oils available in the market for consumption and industrial uses as well.

Vegetable Oil widely used as cooking oil in various cuisines, comes from different plants/ seeds like soybeans, sunflower, cottonseed, olive, mustard seeds, etc. Apart from its application in culinary uses, vegetable oil is also used as an ingredient in many manufactured products. It is used in soaps, candles, skin products, perfumes, cosmetics, and personal care products. Some oils are known as drying oils, and are used in manufacturing paints as well as for wood treatment products. Lately, vegetable oil is increasingly used in electrical industry as insulators due to its non toxic and biodegradable features.

The production of vegetable oil involves extraction of oil from plant components, mainly seeds. The extraction can be done mechanically by using an oil mill or through chemical extraction with the use of a solvent. Further, the extracted oil is purified, refined or chemically treated (of required). Some of the common steps involved in the production of vegetable oil are as follows:
  • Cleaning and Grinding of Oil Seeds
  • Pressing Oil Seeds
  • Using Solvents to Obtain Maximum Yield of Oil
  • Solvent Retrieval
  • Filtering
  • Processing
  • Refining
Vegetable oil industry comprises small to large scale establishments engaged in the processing of edible oil. Various types of equipment/ machines that are used in oil processing include centrifuges, deodrizers, cookers, dryer, oilseed expanders, expeller press, etc.

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