Cottonseed Oil Business & Production – A Quick Look

Cottonseed oil business and production

Want to learn more about the Cottonseed oil business? We present to you with useful info about types of cotton, production process, and benefits.

Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium.

The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will tend to increase the dispersion of the seeds.

Cotton as a major cash crop is of considerable social and economic importance to Nigeria. Cotton is used to make a number of textile products.

In addition to the textile industry, cotton is used in fishing nets, coffee filters, tents, cotton paper, and bookbinding. The first Chinese paper was made of cotton fiber.

The cottonseed which remains after the cotton is ginned is used to produce cottonseed oil, which, after refining, can be consumed by humans like any other vegetable oil.

Cottonseed, like sunflower, corn, or soybean, is fast gaining acceptance worldwide, as a viable cooking alternative.

Cottonseed oil is a commonly used vegetable oil that’s derived from the seeds of cotton plants of various species, mainly Gossypiumhirsutum and Gossypiumherbaceum, which are grown for cotton fiber, animal feed, and oil. 

The whole cottonseed contains about 15 to 20 percent oil. Cottonseed oil must be refined to remove gossypol.

This naturally occurring toxin gives the oil its yellow color and protects the plant from insects. Unrefined cottonseed oil is sometimes used as a pesticide. This toxin has also been linked to infertility and liver damage.

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Cottonseed has a similar structure to other oilseeds such as sunflower seed, having an oil-bearing kernel surrounded by a hard outer hull; in processing, the oil is extracted from the kernel.

Cottonseed oil is used for salad oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and similar products because of its flavor stability.

Facts About Cottonseed Oil

  1. Cottonseed oil is naturally hydrogenated, while most other oils must be hydrogenated to retain their tolerance for high frying temperatures creating unhealthy saturated fats.
  2. Cottonseed oil retains its natural tolerance for high frying temperatures and is therefore, popular and recommended for all kinds of food manufacturing applications like deep-frying, baking and as salad dressing.
  3. Once processed, cottonseed oil has a mild taste and appears generally clear with a light golden color, the amount of color depending on the amount of refining
  4. Cottonseed oil is stable frying oil, and is used for mayonnaise, salad dressing, potato chips, cookies and crackers, margarine, and as other flavored condiments.
  5. Cottonseed oil is one of the main ingredients in most oriental dishes.
  6. It resists rancidity and is high on tocopherol which contributes to longer shelf life for its products.
  7. Far from producing objectionable flavors and odors, like many other oils, it is the standard against which other oils are compared for pleasing aroma, flavor and performance.
  8. It is also less expensive when compared to other oils and is now used in a wide range of processed foods from breads to cereals.
  9. It’s possible to be allergic to cottonseed oil. Place some oil about the size of a dime on your and rub in. If you have no reaction in 24 hours you should be able to use it.

History of Cottonseed Oil

Cotton has been around since ancient times and it has been found that people from 3500 BC wove cotton into cloth.

This was evident from pieces of cloth from the Indus Valley Civilization that were found by archaeologists. As centuries passed, more research was conducted to find out how cotton can be used in other ways.

It was found that the oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants could be used for cooking. More studies found that cottonseed oil is one that has quite a few health benefits.

Cottonseed oil is one of the few oils considered acceptable for reducing saturated fat intake. Cottonseed oil has traditionally been used in foods such as potato chips.

But since it is significantly less expensive than olive oil or canola oil, cottonseed has started to creep into a much wider range of processed foods, including cereals, bread, and snack foods.

Cottonseed meal is the by-product of oil extraction from cotton seeds. A protein-rich feed, cottonseed meal is a common source of protein for ruminants and they are used as a partial substitute for soybean meal.

Nigerians use vegetable oil extensively without caution. Consequently, the demand for the product is ever-growing. As demand grows, so is supplies. It is like no amount of supplies would satisfy the growing demand. During the festive season, demand rises significantly.

The controversy surrounding the consumption of cottonseed oil has to do with the dangers associated with gossypol.

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Cottonseed Oil Extraction

Cottonseed oil extraction plant adopts solvent extraction method to extract cottonseed oil.

The cottonseed oil plant includes a cottonseeds pretreatment and prepressing workshop, a cottonseed cake solvent extraction workshop, and a crude cottonseed oil refinery plant.

The residual oil rate in the cottonseed meal is lower than 1%. Cottonseeds contain a toxic pigment which called gossypol, of which the content is 0.15%-1.8%.

Cottonseed kernels contain 0.5%-2.5% of gossypol. After processed by the cottonseed oil refinery plant, the gossypol content in the oil is less than 0.01%.

The products of the cottonseed oil processing plant are cottonseed oil, cottonseed meal, cottonseed hull, and soapstock.

Production Process

The following are the processes involved in oil extraction

Delinting & Cleaning

If your cottonseeds are with lint, then you need to add a cottonseed delinting machine to the cottonseed oil plant.

Cleaning is to remove the various organic impurities in the cottonseeds by cottonseed cleaning equipment.

Cleaning cottonseeds can reduce oil loss, increase oil yield, increase the quality of oil, cake, and by-products, reduce the abrasion of equipment, increase the handling capacity and improve the work environment.

Cottonseed cleaning equipment for the cottonseed oil plant includes winnower, vibrating screen, magnetic separator, etc.

The winnower can remove light impurities and dust as well as heavy impurities like stone and metal in the cottonseeds; The vibrating screen is to remove the large and small impurities; The magnetic separator is to remove the metal impurities in the cottonseeds.


Cottonseed contains 40%-55% of hulls and the hull contains only 0.3-1% of the oil. Cottonseed contains 14%-25% of oil and the kernels contain 30-40%.

In addition, the hulls also contain brown pigment, pesticide residue, wax, and lint. Hulling cottonseeds can increase the handling capacity of the oil press and increase oil yield, improve the quality of crude oil and meal.

Cottonseed hulls can be used for cultivating mushrooms and used as livestock feed, etc.

Kernel and hull separation

The effect of kernels and hulls separation can affect the oil yield and the quality of oil and meal. A vibrating screen is adopted in the cottonseed oil mill plant to separate kernels and hulls.

The hulls are further processed by the hull beater to separate the kernel pieces in hulls. The shaft of the hull beater rotates in different speeds and directions with the screen drum.

The beating sticks arranged in the spiral on the shaft beat and push the cottonseeds. The hulls and kernels flow out from different outlets of the hull beater.

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The flaking process makes the cottonseeds into flakes and destroys the cell walls, which can largely shorten the oil path so that to increase the oil-yielding speed and oil yield.

Cottonseed oil processing plant adopts hydraulic flaking roller which can guarantee the uniform thickness of the cottonseed flakes. The roller has high hardness and stable performance.


To reduce the toxicity of gossypol, usually high moisture cooking is adopted in the cottonseed oil plant. The phospholipids absorb water and agglomerate so that they do not dissolve in oil, reducing the binding with free gossypol.

Free gossypol combines with protein to form bound gossypol which has no toxicity and is left in the meal.  Cottonseed oil processing plant adopts vertical cooker for the cooking process.

The flakes from the flaking roller enter the vertical cooker. By high temperature and high moisture cooking, the temperature and moisture of cottonseed flakes are adjusted, the free gossypol content of the crude oil is reduced and the quality of the crude oil is improved.


Cottonseeds can be once-pressed and then sent to the cottonseed oil refinery plant directly. Usually, the solvent extraction method is adopted with cottonseed oil pre-press used to extract part of the oil.

The machine has a large capacity and the cake has a low residual oil rate and is easy for solvent penetration.


The oil contains residue and solid powder, so we have to remove them before packing or refining. 

The residue & solid powder is separated through the automatic oil-dreg separator. After separating, we can get two products, one is crude oil with an impurity of 1% which will be refined or filtered further by Filtered Press; the other is residue with oil which is conveyed back into Screw Press to repress to get rest oil.  


The oil residue is separated from the oil by the oil residue scraper, and then the oil is filtered by the leaf filter. The filtered oil is pumped into the crude oil tank.

The pre-pressed cake is sent to the solvent extraction workshop. The leaf filter used for the cottonseed oil processing plant has the features of high precision, easy to discharge the residue.

Like the red palm oil processing plant, you can have your cottonseed oil processing plant and process the oil for other farmers, or if you do not have the financial capability to own a plant you can take your cottonseed (purchased or from your farm) to a plant for processing.

Another alternative in the business is to own a cotton farm and a cottonseed oil processing plant.

The last method is the most advisable as it increases your profit margin. You do not only focus on making a profit from the oil but also on the cotton.

Cotton is one of the most demanded cash crops in the world because of its uses in the production of fabric in the clothing industry. In simple terms, as long as people keep wearing clothes, there would always be a high demand for cotton.

Here is a quick glance into cotton farming if you want to take advantage of the vast global demand for cottonseed oil and cotton in the fashion industry worldwide.

Cotton Farming and Production

Cotton farming is the complete process of cotton cultivation from the clearing of the farmland to the planting of seedlings and finally the harvesting of the cotton plant for both local consumption, commercial purposes, and exportation.

While cotton production is all the procedures involved in the conversion of raw cotton plants into the processed cotton fabric, the process of cotton farming starts with cultivating your farmland.

The good news is that you do not require very fertile farmland. This is because cotton is a very tolerant crop and grows well on poor soils. Because cotton grows into shrubs, adequate spacing is necessary.

Crops begin to sprout a week or two after planting. It should be noted that this requires an area with good rainfall. The plants will blossom into shrubs.

Cream and pink colored flowers emerge briefly. This gives way to fruit at pollination. The fruits or cotton bolls that emerge will later produce cotton.

Before then, you need to weed off your farm. This ensures the cotton plants are given optimal growing conditions. Pest control is also necessary within this period.

This is because your crop is likely to be attacked by pests. Proper pest control eliminates pests and limits losses.

Types of Cotton

  1. Pima Cotton: Pima is considered the best quality of cotton on earth. It has extra-long fibers which makes it extra soft and extra strong. This kind of cotton is only used in the production of luxurious fabrics.
  2. Gossypium Hirsutum: Gossypium hirsutum accounts for about 90% of the cotton produced in the world. It is commonly known as upland cotton. Upland cotton has relatively short fibers.
  3. Gossypium Arboreum: Gossypium arboreum accounts for about 2% of cotton production. It is commonly known as tree cotton. This variant is local to India and Pakistan, and is used mainly in the production of muslin.
  4. Gossypium Herbaceum: Gossypium herbaceum also is known as Levant cotton. It is native to southern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Also, it accounts for less than 2% of the global market. Levant cotton is primarily spun into yarns to make a variety of fabrics.

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Planting and Harvesting

Basic requirements include good farmland, good seedlings, fertilizer, and pesticides for treating your plants. Cotton seeds are planted on ridges because cotton grows into shrubs. 

Because the cotton plant grows up to a meter tall, adequate space is required, and a row spacing of 38 to 40 inches should be adhered to.

A number of 3 seeds should be planted per hole and it should be about an inch deep with 4-inch spacing between each plant.

Planting cotton is quite simple, you can plant the cottonseed in a pot or on farmland; it doesn’t require much water but enough to make it grow well and needs more sunlight at least for about 5 hours a day.

After about 7-15 days, it begins to sprout and at this stage, the amount of water can gradually be increased to make the soil very moistened.

The plants then blossom into shrubs. Cream and pink colored flowers emerge briefly and give way to fruit at pollination. But during this process, you need to weed the farmland, to ensure the cotton plants are given optimal growing conditions.

Pest control is also necessary within this period. This is because your crop is likely to be attacked by pests. Proper pest control eliminates pests and limits losses.

Continue to water the plant at intervals of about 8-16 days and once the plant stops receiving water, it will begin to shed off its leaves due to dryness and this can be noticed on the 16th -18th weeks from the planting season.

The dryness makes the bolls split open making the cotton fiber visible, and the fiber begins to dry. When all the bolls have been cracked open, and the cotton fiber dried, it will then look like a fluffy ball. At this stage, the cotton is ready for harvest.

The next stage involves picking the cotton. Cotton is usually harvested with the seed and gathered into bales. The cotton ginnery is where it is sent for separation.

Here, the fluffy lint is separated from the seeds. These are collected or packed into bales and made ready for the textile or cotton spinning mills. These are essentially the steps you follow in cultivating your cotton crop.


With Nigeria being among the top 10 cotton-producing countries in Africa and the 29th globally, the vast opportunity to venture into cotton farming in Nigeria remains immense and lucrative for new and existing farmers or entrepreneurs in the country.

The same is true of cottonseed oil, both globally and in Africa; Nigeria is not doing bad in production. According to a recent study, Nigeria produces about 16,000 MT of cottonseed oil.

The return of investment is appreciable for both cotton and cottonseed oil. While this is the case, you need total diligence and commitment to realize good results.

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