Neem Oil Extraction Methods, Process

Neem oil extraction process

Today, we discuss the topic of neem oil extraction methods and process.

What is Neem oil? Neem oil comes from the seed of the tropical Neem tree, also called as Indian lilac. Neem oil is formed from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree, a tree that’s native to India but also grows in other tropical areas. The scientific name of the Neem tree is Azadirachta indica, is a member of the mahogany family and grows naturally in India and Sri Lanka.

Neem oil is a naturally occurring pesticide creates in seeds from the Neem tree. It has a wide history of use as a folk remedy around the world and has been used to treat many conditions. It has a harsh odor, it’s high in fatty acids and other nutrients, and it’s used in several beauty products like skin creams, body lotions, hair products, and cosmetics.

Neem tree can grow on a wide range of soils up to pH 10 which makes it one of the most versatile and important trees in Indian sub-continent. It is the most important of the commercially obtainable products of Neem for organic farming and medicines.

Neem Leaves.
Neem Leaves.

Uses of Neem extracts

Neem extracts can be used as insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides. Neem oil has antibacterial, antiviral properties and it can be used in skin and dental problems. Neem products are being used for malaria, fever, pain and as a contraceptive. Neem oil is being used in cosmetics, lubricants, and fertilizers. Neem bark can be used as villages for rope making. It is also used in soap manufacture.

Agricultural Use of Neem Oil

In addition to its medicinal uses, Neem oil is found to be useful for protecting crops against pests, as it provides natural pesticidal properties. Among its active compounds, azadirachtin affects insects the most, causing 90 percent of the pesticidal cause on most pests.

Neem oil also has other broad effects on insects that are; it helps alter the development, inhibits feeding, hinders reproduction and suppresses the fertility of pests. Pollinator insects, such as bees, are not likely to be harmed by Neem oil since it should be ingested in order for it to take effect. It’s nontoxic to birds, mammals, and other plants, but it’s moderately toxic to fish and other aquatic animals.

When used properly, Neem oil can also help get rid of plant insects that are difficult to eradicate, such as spider mites. However, to successfully get rid of spider mites, you have to apply Neem oil on plant frequently (ideally once a week or more), preferably when the temperature is below 90 degrees Fahrenheit and when the plant is not water-stressed.

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How does Neem oil work?

What are some products that contain Neem oil? Neem oil and several purified components are used in over 100 pesticide products. They are useful for a wide variety of crops and ornamental plants for insect control. Neem oil can be formulated into granules, wettable powders, dust, or emulsifiable concentrate.

Neem oil is prepared with many components. In Neem oil Azadirachtin is the most active. Neem oil reduces insect feeding and acts as a repellent. It interferes with insect hormone systems, making it harder for insects to grow and lay eggs. Azadirachtin can repel and decrease the feeding of nematodes. Other components of Neem oil kill insects by hindering their capability to feed. However, the exact role of each component is not known.


Neem starts bearing fruits after five years and comes to full bearing at the age of 10-12 years. Fruit yield is 5 to 20 kg per tree per year in the initial years. A mature tree produces 35 to 50 kg fruit/year. Oil yield varies from 40 to 43% of seed on a dry weight basis. Highest Neem oil content has been reported from the Banswara region of Rajasthan (43.2%), while the lowest oil yield of 32.4% has been reported from the Jaisalmer region. It has been observed that as rainfall in an area increases oil content increases. Among the International provenances tested, Bangladesh provenance has yielded maximum Neem oil content (48.6%).

Neem oil extraction process:

The extraction process of Neem oil can be explained below;

The oil can be obtained through pressing or crushing of the seed kernel both through cold pressing and through a process incorporating temperature controls 40 – 50 °C. Neem seed oil can be obtained by solvent extraction of the Neem seed, fruit, oil, cake or kernel. A large industry in India extracts this oil remaining in the seed cake using hexane. This solvent-extracted oil is of lower quality as compared to the cold pressed oil and is generally used for soap manufacturing. Neem cake is a by-product obtained in the solvent extraction method for Neem oil.

Extraction procedure

40g, 50g, and 61.4g of Neem seeds, leaves and barks respectively, were every weighed and put into the thimble of the Soxhlet extractor. 300ml of the solvent or ethanol was measured with a measuring cylinder and poured into the still pot of the Soxhlet extractor, the apparatus was then coupled and the condenser unit was connected to an overhead water tank to cool rising solvent vapor. The heat source was a Bunsen burner operating at a temperature of 68°C. The solvent evaporated during the distillation path, thimble, and the expansion adapter after which it condensed at the condenser unit of the Soxhlet extractor. At this position, the condensed vapor returned to the thimble as liquid droplets and got in contact with the sample therein. It then broke the sample membranes to release the Neem oil content which accumulated with the solvent at the siphon (or reflux arm) of the Soxhlet extractor. When the solvent in the thimble rose to the point of the siphon top, the entire content of the thimble and siphon was emptied back into the still pot of the Soxhlet extractor. The process was repeated severally for about nine refluxes in three hours after which the extraction process was completed. The temperature was regulated using a thermometer.

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Recovery of extracted oil

After extraction, the resulting liquid was a mixture of the solvent used for extraction and the Neem oil extract. The liquid was discharged into a Liebig condenser to divide the solvent from the oil extract. The mixture was distilled at a temperature of 68°C until the Neem oil extract was completely free of the solvent. Diethyl ether was then used to purify the Neem oil extract after which it was exposed to the atmosphere for a while to ensure the elimination of the solvent odor.

Equipment used for the Neem oil extraction process:

The equipment used in the Neem oil extraction process are;

Drying oven, grinder, laboratory test sieve, mixture extractor, and filter, evaporator, condenser, and Neem oil storage tank.

Different methods for Neem oil extraction:

Neem oil is generally extracted from Neem seeds. Neem oil is usually light to dark brown depending on the time of harvest as well as growing conditions before harvesting. It is bitter and smells like peanuts combined with garlic. Neem oil is generally used in agricultural products, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Different types of Neem oil extraction technologies are available,

  • Mechanical Pressing
  • Steam Distillation Extraction
  • Solvent Extraction
  • Super Critical Extraction, and
  • Aqueous Extraction
Mechanical press method:

Basically, in India mechanical method is mainly used. The Kernels contain about 50 to 65 % oil. There are merits of mechanical procedure. The supercritical procedure is now being popular because of maximum yields and eco-friendly.

How to make Neem oil using mechanical pressing methods?

This method is one of the methods of processing Neem oil. Neem seeds are placed in a tub or container and a form of press or screw is used to squeeze the seeds until the oil is pressed out. The mechanical extraction process of Neem seeds performs using hydraulic pressing equipment. Untreated seed particles to be pressed with different pressures to determine the optimum pressure. The pressure was started at 138 Bar as the oil started to flow out of the seedbed, and closed at 412 bars since the oil yield relatively constant at the pressure above 413 bars. The mechanical extraction process was performed for 25 minutes when the oil has stopped flowing out. Neem oil yield measurement was conducted using the mass balance. Neem seeds kernels are placed into a vessel and either a screw or some of form of press is used to squeeze the kernels under pressure until the Neem oil is pressed out and collected. The Neem oil gets by pressing it mechanically and collected in a drum.  This filtration is done to remove the various unwanted particles left in the extracted oil in order to get pure Neem oil.

Steam distillation extraction:

How to make Neem oil using a steam distillation process?

This method uses steam and high pressure to extract the Neem oil. The kernels are heated with steam to increase the Neem oil flow, then squeeze under high pressure. Most of the Neem oil is extracted from the kernels. This procedure makes the extraction process easier. As for the steam distillation process, the dried Neem seeds are put into the steam boiler. Then they get swollen by steaming, thus Neem oil in squeezing becomes very easy. This steaming process is accompanied by increasing pressure in the boiler which drives the oil out of Neem seeds.

Steam distillation is a separation method which is used for separating a mixture of components which are heat sensitive by using steam. The principle is based on variation in the boiling point of reducing the partial pressure of volatile components. Steam distillation has important application in petroleum refineries, extraction of volatile compounds of plants which were used in perfumery and flavoring industries. Catnip is extracted using steam distillation. The steam distillate content has two parts, essential oil, and distillation water. The steam distillate is subjected to solvent extraction where the secondary essential oil is extracted.

The oil is extracted from the entire plant using a distillation element consisting of a distillation tank, a condenser, and a separator. Freshly harvested grass as such or after cutting into little pieces is loaded into the distillation tank. After closing the lid tightly, steam is entering into the tank. Steam and the oil vapor condense into liquid in condenser & are collected in the separator.

Solvent extraction:

In the solvent extraction process, the solvent, usually hexane is mixed with Neem seeds after oven drying. Or the added Neem seeds can be pressed if wanted. The solvent extraction process is working on the principle of countercurrent and moving bed, permitting excellent penetration and percolation of solvent for absolute Neem oil extraction. The extracted Neem oil is collected by vaporizing solvent out for later recovery.

Super Critical Extraction:

The supercritical fluid extraction process is the most effective and efficient way to extract valuable constituent botanicals. This is the process of separating one component or the extractant from another or the matrix using supercritical fluids that is carbon dioxide as the extracting solvent. Carbon dioxide solvent is the king of extraction solvents for botanicals. Extraction conditions for supercritical CO2 are above the critical temperature of 31°C and pressure of 74 bar. Supercritical fluids are extremely compressed gases, which have combined properties of gases and liquids in an intriguing manner. Supercritical fluids can lead to reactions, which are difficult or impossible to achieve in conventional solvents. It is a fast procedure completed in 10 to 60 minutes. A supercritical extraction fluid can be separated from analyte by simply releasing pressure, leaving almost no trace and yields a pure residue.

Aqueous Extraction:

The aqueous extraction is the simplest method and most used is the extraction of water. It consists of crushing or grinding the seed or Neem leaves, put in water, strain into the thin fabric and collect the Neem extract. This Neem oil extract can be used in a spray for the control of pests without modification.

Cost of Neem oil extraction machine:

Neem oil extraction machine cost is approximately Rs 1.8 Lakh/Piece and

Neem Oil cost will be Rs 200/ Kilogram

Storage process of Neem oil:

Store Neem oil in the refrigerator, or in an area that is cool and dark so that it will keep longer. It must keep for a year or two. Make sure you label it appropriately wherever choose to store it. However, Neem oil can solidify at low temperatures.

That’s all folks about Neem oil extraction methods from seeds.

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  1. How long do you have to dry the neem seeds after harvest before pressing for oil?
    And after drying the seeds, how long can you store the seeds before pressing for oil? Thank you.


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