Hemp oil can be extracted from the seed of the hemp plant, which contains between 30-35% oil by weight, which is high in essential fatty acids. The plant can also be pressed for oil. Cold-pressed, unrefined hemp oil is light green, with a nutty, grassy flavour.
Refined hemp oil is clear with little flavour. It is widely used in body care products, lubricants, paints and industrial uses. Antimicrobial properties make it a useful ingredient for soaps, shampoos and detergents. The oil is of high nutritional value because its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids matches the balance required by the human body. It has also received attention in recent years as a possible source of biodiesel. There are a number of organisations that promote the production and use of hemp oil.
30–35% of the weight of hempseed is oil containing 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (LA, 50-70%), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 15–25%) and Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA, 1–6%). The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in hempseed oil meet human requirements for EFAs. Unfortunately the unsaturated fat makes the oil rancid quickly, unless it is stored in dark coloured bottles or mixed with chemical preservatives. This makes hemp oil difficult to transport or store. The high unsaturated fat content also makes the oil unsuitable for frying. This severely limits hemp oil's potential on the food market, although some marketing potential exists as a nutritional supplement. Cooking of any oil reduces its nutritional value, and may convert beneficial fatty acids to less benign substances.
- "Hemp Oil". InnVista. November 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-18. Check date values in:
- Agua Das (November 16 1997). "Hemp Oil Fuels & How to Make Them". HempFarm.com. Retrieved 2006-11-18. Check date values in:
- "Hemp Farm". Retrieved 2006-11-18.
- Hemp seed oil: A source of valuable essential fatty acids
- Hemp Horizons by John Roulac, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1997