Processing of Sea Buckthorn – Extracting the Oil for Human Use

One of the reasons sea buckthorn has remained outside the spotlight for so long in the United States could be the fact that it is inedible in its natural state. You can’t just eat the fresh berries raw, or drink their juice straight.  They’re very tart and quite unpalatable.  Instead, companies use rather complex procedures to extract the juice, oils, and seeds in order to package them in forms that customers can use.

 A Thorny Situation

Processing the sea buckthorn plant is difficult even from the first step—getting the berries off the bush. To protect the fruit from birds and other animals, the plant surrounds it with sharp thorns. Since it is too tedious to simply pull the berries off, the most effective method is to cut off entire branches and use a machine to shake the berries free from them. The next step, the cleaning stage, is also complicated by the berries’ delicate nature. If water is used to wash them, they quickly absorb it and the valuable oils inside become diluted. Instead, more shaking and careful brushing separates the berries from dirt, sand, leaves, bark, and other debris that could contaminate the berries before the extraction process. Once the seeds and the berries have been separated, they are ready for the extraction stage.

Traditional Extraction Methods

Extraction is a way to take out the small amount of oil present in each sea buckthorn berry and seed so that it can be concentrated. By taking a small dose of pure sea buckthorn seed oil or berry oil, the customer can get the same benefits that would ordinarily require the consumption of a large number of actual berries. Traditionally, developers have relied on the use of certain chemicals to soak the seeds and berry pulp, which draws out the oils. However, all chemicals have at least a small damaging effect on the composition of the oils, and some of their benefits become lost. Additionally, the chemicals in these solvents can pose health risks to the consumer. An exciting new idea for extraction, however, promises to hold the key to safely obtaining these precious oils in their purest possible form.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Supercritical CO2 extraction is unquestionably safer than chemical extraction processes. Carbon dioxide, normally a gas or a solid (dry ice), is forced into a liquid state through temperature and pressure management. When the sea buckthorn berries or seeds are added to this liquid, the carbon dioxide pulls the oils out, retaining nearly all their powerful EFA’s, proteins, and other beneficial components. Many health experts now agree that sea buckthorn oils produced by supercritical CO2 extraction are the best choice if customers want to get the most effect from them.

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41 Responses to Processing of Sea Buckthorn – Extracting the Oil for Human Use

  1. Don Welke says:

    I do not agree that the SB berries are that unpalatable.

    The following is my personal experience.

    I am a 67 year old male generally in good health. I have had Sea-Buckthorn trees on my property for approximately 15 years and have occasionally eaten a few berries. For the past 18 years, I have suffered moderate to severe joint and muscle pain for which I have made numerous trips to specialists with 0 success in rectifying the problem. I subsequently found through trial and error, that Wild Alaskan Salomon Oil alleviated the pain to a point where it was tolerable most of the time.

    This Fall, I was booked for Transurethral Resection of the Prostate Gland (TURP) Surgery on 19 SEPT 2012. At my pre-surgery orientation, one week prior to surgery, I was told to stop the Wild Alaska Salmon Oil immediately, in preparation for the surgery. I guess sub-consciously, I was somewhat concerned about my muscle and joint pain and for whatever reason, decided to eat 15 SB berries every day. I did so, for the 6 days prior to surgery, eating the entire berry c/w all the pulp, but did not eat the seeds. I did not eat any SB on the day of surgery nor the day after, but on returning home, I continued my 15 berries/day routine. I visited my Family Doctor one week post surgery and informed him that I have never felt healthier in the past 18 years.
    At that time, not even thinking about the Sea-Buckthorn, I believed that the TURP Surgery was responsible, for my improved health, in that I no longer had a problem with toxins in my body due to bladder retention. The Doctor was very surprised about my lack of muscle and joint pain, but was not of the opinion that the pain for the last 18 years would have been caused by toxins resulting from bladder retention. On returning home, I tried to think about anything else I have been doing differently, and it hit me. It must be the Sea-Buckthorn. I have not been back to see my doctor since, but I am anxious to tell him about it. One other thing I might add. I took 0 pain medication after the surgery. It is my intent to ditch the Wild Salmon Oil and continue eating 15 SB berries/day. I have a pail of berries on twigs frozen for my winter, spring and summer supply.

    My questions:

    Should I be chewing up and eating the seeds as well, eating them whole, or not eating them at all?

    Also, Would 15 berries/day be considered a reasonable dosage?

    Sold on Sea-Buckthorn.

    • admin says:

      Don,

      Your sea buckthorn results are a fantastic story! We’re glad you shared it on this site. So you’re aware, there is a difference between the berry and the seed’s nutritional profile. Please read here to learn more about berry vs seed oil. It is recommended to consume the seed as well since it has Omega 3, 6, and 9 as well as a plethora of antioxidants, among other nutrients. It is generally accepted that whole seeds pass through the digestive tract whole due to the fiber. Chew them if you can so you can unleash the nutrients.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Myrtle Theis says:

    I agree with Don. I love the Sea buckthorn berry. I cut off the branch, wash the berries then freeze them. After frozen, I take them off the branch and freeze them in containers. I often mix them with pomegranate ariels and have them as a delicous snack. Sometimes, I add wild blueberries to the mix. The SB seeds are difficult to chew so I imagine most of the nutrients are never unleashed. I would like to know how to extract the oil from the berry. Thanks. Myrtle

  3. akarim yugo says:

    I would like to know how to extract the oil from the berry. Thanks.
    akarim from khaplu gems & minerals gilgit baltistan pakistan

    • admin says:

      Akarim,

      There are various extraction methods. CO2 Supercritical is the best way in our opinion. It’s natural and highly efficient. There are Hexane based extracts out there as well but we’d recommend steering clear. Hexane solvent extraction actually uses a byproduct of gasoline which we highly recommend avoiding.

      • Olena says:

        The simplest extraction method that is vaillable at every kitchen is to do the extraction from seeds with other edible oil, for example, olive oil. The oil will not be same as cold-pressed SB oil, or from CO2 extraction, this will be rather olive oil enriched with nutrients from SB.
        After I press the juice from SB, I dry my SB cake, process it slightly it in a coffee grinder (no need to grind it until the fine powder, just crush the seeds), then I pour olive oil to the ground cake. The oil with seeds is stored for about 2 weeks in a dark place, at room temperature. After that, I filter my oil and use it for the salads. Depending on seed/oil ratio, the oil will have more or less SB nutrients. More oil – less concentration of nutrients.

  4. jose luis verdugo says:

    I have som sea-bockthorn in my garden,I grind the whole berrys in a blender at high speed
    till all the seeds are triturated,near pulverized,abaut one minit ,then you kan drink or freeze in box,2 cups each.

    2 tbsp in the morning is enough

    Sincerely

    Josè

  5. hegde says:

    me and wifey planted sb three years ago had a bumper crop last fall froze all the berries ,
    going to make jelly on saturday , and grind the pulp and seed into paste and mix with honey
    and eat a tspoon every morning,god bless

    • admin says:

      Hedge,

      That’s awesome! We are so jealous here at seabuckthorninsider! Fresh sea buckthorn berries are quite a special treat!

      Enjoy!

  6. azgh says:

    Hi.
    sea buck thorns are found in our Northern Pakistan in very much amount, my father use their extracts for the his leg treatment and he is also very fond to extract oil from them. But being avoid from advance technology , we cant extract oil from them. I have very big jungle of sea buck thorn and we use them as burning wood. please advice how to extract oil in easy way.

    • admin says:

      Hello,
      It is difficult to extract oils without industrial machinery but it is doable. There is cold pressing, distillation and solvent extraction. I would suggest researching these various methods and do some experiments with the berries that grow in your yard to find out which one could work for you. This link talks about different methods of oil extraction and it may help you as learn how to process oils.

      Thanks and good luck!

      • Jaine says:

        Hi from the UK, I am growing my first sea buckthorn plants this year and am interested in oil extraction. When you say distillation is that using alcohol. We have a Little Green Oil machine which we use to make another medication for my husband’s COPD, using near 100% alcohol which we make ourselves. Would this work using the pulp and seeds after making jelly, or would I need to use whole berries? May I add I have stumbled across this site while researching and have learnt a lot from this single thread, thank you!

        • admin says:

          Hi Jaine,

          Interesting! Well we believe that you’d be better off trying first with the whole berry including the seeds inside. It’s possible that you could get some oil out of your leftovers too, but you’ll need to experiment. Sorry we don’t have more information on your type of extraction method.

          Thanks!

  7. Beth Fowler says:

    This is a fantastic site for those Sea Buckthorn enthusiasts. We have a large Sea Buckthorn Organic Orchard in Chipman, NB Canada and are finishing up with our first harvest. Will be pursuing contracts in the winter as well as developing an educational packet. We do have frozen berries, juice and wine for those who are local to New Brunswick Canada – have not had time to figure out shipping logistics quite yet. Our u-pick was a big success and many reports of quick health results being experienced. Once you try Sea Buckthorn and start to feel the benefit from the berries, juice or making your own delicious recipes, you will be hooked.

    Cheers to your health!

    • Jessica Lepitzki says:

      Hello from another Canadian! Do you have a method of getting the oil out safely? I was thinking of putting it into my extraction juicer. My son has bad eczema and I am wanting to make a salve for him.

      • Beth Fowler says:

        We have found that when you pinch open one berry – twice a day and apply directly to the site, there is a visible difference within two weeks. Those that have had results are adding about 20 to a smoothie per day (or 4 oz. of juice in a blender) plus applying them on the skin, they are seeing great results.

  8. Aleta says:

    What if a person were to put them in a blender, such as a Vitamix that has the ultra-high cycle that grinds everything including the seeds. Then spread that on a fruit leather sheet in the fruit dryer to remove the water. Then run the sheets through the filo dough attachment on the pasta roller machine? Do you think that would press out any oil?

    • admin says:

      Hello,
      The process of oil extraction itself is different than what you have described. If you were to take the pulp and put it in a dehydrator or fruit dryer, you would likely lose a lot of oil/ omega content. If your goal is to extract oil for use in concentrated form, you should a process to create an essential oil out of the berry. The guide linked here will help you to create a concentrated essential oil at home, a few methods are listed.

      http://www.essential-oil-mama.com/make-your-own-essential-oil.html

      Hope this helps and thanks for your question!

  9. Caroline says:

    I have been using skin- and hair-care products containing sea buckthorn oil for about two years now and LOVE them. Best stuff I’ve ever used, even better than the obscenely high-priced, high-end products from France that I used to use.
    I’ve seen occasional articles with brief mentions of how good SB is for people, then recently saw an article which went into more detail about the health benefits. So I remembered that a local nursery sells SB plants, decided I better get some, and went today and got a male and female.
    I am so excited and can’t wait until they start bearing fruit and I can start eating them!
    Thanks for all your great articles and information and for getting the word out about SB.
    Is there any way to subscribe to your website? Do you send out newsletters? I can’t see anything that indicates you do, unless I am missing something..?

    • admin says:

      Caroline,

      That is so awesome, we love your enthusiasm for SBT! Right now we don’t have a sign up list but we will shoot you an email if that changes to let you know. Congrats and good luck with your new SBT trees!!

      Thanks

  10. Uli says:

    I have two SB bushes/trees on the sunny side of my house at Massachusetts North Shore ( a run-off section, the trees never stand in water!!). Further down I have the male plant, which is constantly sending shoots near by. I bought the young plants many years ago on line. I apparently have two varieties not knowing any details about it, but one was ready and ripe early August ( the smaller bush) and the other one goes up to my second floor has a bumper crop right now ( late September) The berries look brilliantly orange and are quite showy. A Russian friend told me to cut the branches and put them into the freezer and then they are easier to shake off. I did just that with the branches I wanted to prune, but of course I still like to retain my tree so I am having some left on the tree either for the birds (which are not very keen on them) or for me when I have time .
    Being a native German I always knew about SB syrup, which you can buy tin Germany in Health Food stores with honey, quite costly. Now I add about 15 berries every morning to my Smoothie and chew the few seeds if they were not small enough. So I believe I will get all the ‘good stuff’!!
    I am thankful to this web-site!!

  11. Kurundu says:

    Thank you for great information. I am just about to plant a living fence of SBT. Probably close to 100. Will let you know when I have berries.

  12. MUhammad Usman Bhatti says:

    I wanna know can we also use semi dried sea buckthorn berries for extracting oil and are they equally effective medicinally?

    • admin says:

      We aren’t sure how well semi-dried berries will produce oil. The quality might be affected, especially if the fruit was dried out by being heated. Heat diminishes the nutrient quality.

  13. Sourab says:

    What is the taste like????

    • admin says:

      Sourab,

      It’s a little hard to describe but we will do our best. The oil from the fruit has a sort of botanical or “planty” taste. The oil from the seed of the sea buckthorn has a distinctly nutty flavor. Some people don’t like the taste very much but we do! If you happen to get a hold of an actual berry, they are very sour.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Zubi says:

    We dont have any machinery for the extraction of oil but my father use to heat the juice of SB for more than one hour. During this procses the oil starts appearing on the surface and here he seprates it from the juice. Hope it will be helpfull for those who dont have machinery.

  15. Paul says:

    Thank you for creating this site. It is quite informative. I have a few seabuckthorn trees on my homestead. I was wondering if it would be possible to extract the oil from the seeds by running them through a hand crank oil expeller, such as the Piteba expeller.
    My plan was to run the berries through a Squeezo fruit strainer to extract all of the juice, skin and pulp for making juice, jelly and/or jam. The seeds and a small portion of remaining fruit pulp could then be ran through the oil expeller.
    Is this similar to how the cold pressed commercial seabuckthorn seed oil is made?
    Also, what does the leaf tea taste like? Is it similar to regular tea? My male seabuckthorn plants will need pruned soon and I’d like to use the leaves if the flavor is agreeable.
    Thanks again,
    Paul in WV

    • admin says:

      Hi Paul,

      We aren’t experts in the way of home made oils but it sounds like your plan of running the fruit through the fruit strainer before the oil expeller is a good plan. From what we have seen online, it looks like most oil expellers are mainly for extracting oil from nuts. As you know, the remaining seeds and pulp of the sea buckthorn berries do contain a lot of fatty acids so you should get some nice oil out of them. Like we said, we aren’t sure how well your plan will work but on paper it looks good and it’s definitely worth a try.

      Most companies these days use a process called c02 extraction which is a high tech machine that forces c02 in it’s liquid state through the plant material leaving behind oil(which sounds unhealthy or toxic but is not). Cold pressed commercial oil and expeller pressed oils are very similar except that typically, the expeller method creates more heat. Since you are likely using a smaller oil expeller, the heat should not effect the quality of oil too much.

      If you can save the leaves of your trees for tea, do it! Sea buckthorn leaves have amazing medicinal qualities and have a flavor similar to green tea.

      Thanks for your great questions and good luck!

  16. Brenda says:

    I love sea buckthorn and have used the oil for over two years now and find it helps with digestion and rosacea. I wonder is it possible to freeze the oil once processed. Love the sight and all the responses.

    • admin says:

      Brenda,

      Glad you hear you love the site and sea buckthorn! Thanks!

      Sure, you can freeze the oil. As long as the extraction process is done in a sterile environment, it’s okay to leave the oil sealed and in bottles or other light safe container at room temperature. If you are purchasing sea buckthorn oil which has been extracted using the c02 supercritical method, there is no need to freeze the oil because it’s very stable and won’t spoil for years. There is no harm in doing so but you really don’t need to.

      Thanks!

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  18. Giselle says:

    I would like to know if there are any companies or growers that rent out use of their c02 extractors for smaller producers?

    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hello,

      That is possible but we aren’t sure. You may want to find a small company and contact them first.

      Thanks

  19. Julian Warwaruk says:

    A few years ago My wife and I planted approx. 100 trees. After a couple years we started to get berries. I cut the branches of when it was quite cold (the berries were frozen)., then I stored everything in the freezer until spring. I estimate I had 150 lbs of berries. Not having a market and not knowing their medicinal benefits I destroyed them. I also removed the trees as one year a bear got into them and made a mess of the trees. Now after reading the info. I was wondering where can I get some berries either in raw state or processed. I live in Manitoba. Can.

  20. Lucy McNeil says:

    Thank you for this open and informative site!
    I have some sea buckthorn bushes growing in the UK and wondered about getting them tested for nutritional values to see how my variety might compare to varieties being used commercially for mecidinal and skincare uses. Do you have any information on what nutritional values of high grade sea buckthorn are?
    Thanks

  21. Pat says:

    Does the CO2 extraction method involve heating the oil? My understanding is when you heat the oil, the palmitoleic acid turns into palmitic acid, which causes inflammation in the body.

    • admin says:

      Hello,

      CO2 extraction is the most gentle method for creating plant based oils. It actually uses a temperature even lower than cold press- so it’s really your best option. The reason you don’t want your oil overheated is that nutrients will be lost.

      Palmitoleic acid turning into palmitic acid with heat isn’t quite right, though.

      Palmitic acid is nearly all foods that high fatty acid levels. It’s quite common and can actually found in our bodies. For example, human lungs contain lots of palmitic acid and so does human breast milk.

      While it’s true that concentrated amounts of palmitic acid could be harmful and cause inflammation, it’s very unlikely that you’d ever encounter highly concentrated palmitic acid.

      Studies have shown that people who are overweight and on high fat, processed food diets tend to have higher levels of palmitic acid in the body. The amount that comes in natural products like olive or well processed sea buckthorn oil is nothing to be concerned about.

      Our bodies naturally convert palmitic acid to omega 7, and if for some reason there is too much, the body just converts it.

      There are also many other anti-inflammatory components in sea buckthorn oil like vitamin e, the other array of natural fatty acids and other natural components. Many of these studies are cautioning more against high fat, processed diets or are just trying to understand how palmitic acid works in the body.

      Sea buckthorn is the only real competitor when it comes to fish based omega 7 supplements. Fish oil companies have been claiming that the only safe way to get omega 7 is by purifying it. We think that’s because fish oil has to be highly processed. It doesn’t have as much omega 7 as sea buckthorn oil so it has to be highly concentrated and processed.

      So, in short, don’t worry about palmitic acid in sea buckhthorn supplements but do try to stick to the ones that are made with CO2 extraction so you get the most benefits.

      Thanks

  22. Karim says:

    I am Surprised by Picture of Sea buckthorne , i Never knew it before that this plant is in my Garden and we cut hundred of trees considering useless , we use these tress only for fire and we dont know value of this fruit and i am sure in town nobody know about this,
    i am from Hunza pakistan, Can someone explain how i can make it a business,
    do I need to extract oil or i can sell fruit also

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