Whenever I visit the family in Jamaica, before I leave my mom knows she has to take me to get two things; a bottle of honey* and a rum flask of castor oil.
You know you got the good stuff when the only thing they can find to put it in is an old white rum bottle. I never distinguished between Jamaican black castor oil* and the clear kind until I started my hair journey; I have always just known the ever potent dark colored version.
If you talk to an older Jamaican person they would probably be quick to tell you too that you can use it for a variety of things including, rubbing your joints if you suffer from arthritis, to induce labor (which I personally would not recommend), and it is believed that it can prevent cysts and lumps if you massage your breasts with it.
My Grandmother will also tell you that if you use castor oil on your skin you can prevent eczema, psoriasis, pimples and other skin ailments. They would hardly ever mention hair which I thought was quite interesting, but none the less we now know it’s great for our tresses too.
Castor oil* is originally from Africa. As it is with many other things, the slaves brought the seeds over to Jamaica where the oil was extracted and used for all the things I just described.
Raw unadulterated castor oil* is very rare but is still being made in some areas of the island today, and is not black in color, it is actually yellowish. Squeezing the seed at high pressure to extract the oil is called cold pressing, and when it is done in that manner it allows the properties of the oil to remain intact versus using heat which degrades the oil.
Earlier I mentioned the castor oil in the rum flask, and one of the reasons I mention it is because the Tropical Isle brand that we are used to purchasing is the closest to that version that you can find anywhere.
According to their website, the reason the oil is dark is because the seeds are roasted, and the ash from the process is added into the oil taking it from that yellow color to in some cases extremely dark.
Originally posted 2014-01-12 15:00:45.