Is Castrol Motor Oil Derived from a Plant. .... ?

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Aug 4, 2002
Ontario , Canada
I remember reading somewhere that Castrol Motor Oil is derived from a plant - Caster plant (spelling ?). Is there any truth to this ?. I am pretty sure I read that on one of Castrol's foreign websites. If this is true is there any benefits of using an oil from such a source ?. I heard that Redline oils are based on vegetable derivatives, would this be somewhat similar ?, just guessing, any info would be interesting. thanks Joey
Most of Castrol is based on the Group III oil. There was a 10W50 foreign version (which was posted in the Used Oil Analysis thread) and appears to be a full synthetic. I don't think it's available in NA. Redline uses mostly polyol esters which are true synthesized organic esters.
Once upon a time... "In 1866, Dr. John Ellis of extracted a lubricating oil from crude oil - and called it Valvoline. By the turn of the century, Castrol had already specialised in making oils - in fact, Castrol is an abreviation of "castor oil". (Castor oil is very good at spreading thinly and evenly in a strong film over metal surfaces - but over 110oC, it oxidises and burns to form heaps of carbon)."
Castrol got their start making castor bean oil racing oils for 2-strokes. The oils worked better than the petroleum oils of the day at preventing seizure, but they left a lot of deposits. The engines had to be rebuilt and cleaned-up after every race. Nobody uses castor oil in racing 2-strokes now because modern synthetic oils perform better without the deposits. [ November 13, 2002, 01:01 AM: Message edited by: Jay ]
Castrol GTX products are made from Group II+ base stocks and the Castrol Syntec is made from Group III base stocks. Castrol still makes a product called Castrol R which is made from the Castor Bean. It comes in three weights, 40, 30, and 20. There are still a lot of vintage racers that use this product and it is widely used in Europe. If your ever at a vintage race, you will know when someone is using it. It omits what I think is a very pleasant odor coming out of the exhaust. The main problem with it is, it does not clean, it just lubricates. After a day of racing you have to drain it and clean out the inside of your engine. Back in the 60's and early 70's this is all we use to use in our MG and Triumph club racers. I believe both Blendzall and Klotz still make an oil with a synthetic and castor blend for racing applications.
As an FYI, the Castor Bean is only one of many legumes that yields vegetable oils which contain natural esters. I think that future oils will contain more and more naturally derived esters, such as jjoba, soy, Sunflower, etc.
Think about this one line of thinking: If we used naturally derived oils of esters, our farmers would be buying new machinery, which would help the "Heavy" manufacturing industry, we would need less foreign oil, and the oil would be biodegradable.
So what's the hold-up in using those? Also, yes the oil would be biodegradable (unused) but after being used in an engine it would still be hazardous waste. So does that aspect really matter?
The hold-up(s) as I see it are these: 1. Economics and Production Capacity - making it attractive (a financial incentive?) for farmers to convert from other operations to oil farming to meet potential demand. 2. Some chemistry work still has to be done to refine the oils and remove the many natural oxidants inherent in these oils, and to develop the appropriate additives for these new oils. 3. A National Will to foster natural esters over the objections of monopolistic oil companies. I am not talking about government mandates or interference here! [that is part of the problem today!.] I am talking about a grass roots education of natural esters and their benefits. When grass roots demand for the product increases, the big guys will have little choices. [ November 13, 2002, 11:20 AM: Message edited by: MolaKule ]
hey thanks for all the great replies, they are all very informative. I wonder if Castrol will be more willing to investigate vegetable sources as compared to some of the other monopolists. As Castrol does not drill for oil, it only blends oil. I guess it is like solar energy, it will only become feasible as the price of non-renewable sources increase drastically.
I think the biodegradable benefit is seen if it's spilled in transport (sea/rail tankers?). Of course, it would have to be only the plant esters, & not any "blended" product.
Here's a little trivia about castor oil (from the bean). As you may, or may not, know it can be used as a laxative. Back in World War 1 it was used as a lubricant in airplanes. The pilots in those old open cockpit planes had to breath the oily exhaust from the engine right in front of them. The poor guys found out that breathing the oily vapor also caused laxative effects. I'll bet they were very glad to get back on the ground after long flights. [Frown] [Eek!] I used to use it as a lubricant in my 2 cycle radio controlled airplane engine. It was the best lubricant at the time and mixed well with the methanol fuel. Aside from the varnish it left in the engine, the exhaust made a slimy mess on the plane that had to be cleaned after every flight. [Off Topic!]
It's all well and good to speculate about the wonderful benefits which might be attained. As a practical matter, at least at this time, there just isn't enough demand and the cost is not economical. Ever notice how many of the "treehuggers" are willing for you to spend your last buck, and they won't spend a dime of their own?
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