Poppy seed oil is taken from the seeds of Papaver somniferum through a mechanical pressing. A distinction is made between cold-pressing and warm-pressing. With both pressing processes, the poppy seed is first cleaned and dried, and then fed into a screw press. A Florapower oil press can be used to cold-press or to warm-press poppy seed. A cold-pressing yields a high-quality oil best suited for food purposes, while a warm-pressing (at 60–70˚C) yields a somewhat inferior oil chiefly suited for technical purposes and in pain production [Bauer 1928, pg. 207]. Another alternative production method is that of extraction with super-critical CO2 (Bozan/Temelli 2003). One potential problem here is cutting the high-quality poppy seed oil with substantially cheaper sunflower seed oil. Such a blend is hardly detectable with conventional methods, thanks to the nearly identical fatty acid composition of the two oils. An innovative process uses SPME-GC-MS analysis to analyze the volatile components in the oil, making it unequivocally possible to detect even the smallest amounts of sunflower seed oil in poppy seed oil [Krist et al. 2006 ].
Pharmaceutical and medical uses
Poppy seed oil, having a mild scent and being absorbed very quickly into the skin, is used in the manufacture of liniments, ointments, and emulsions [Hackbarth 1944, pg. 120]. A further potential application is in the area of chemotherapy: Iodized poppy seed oil is injected into the hepatic artery, then accumulates in microdrops only in the tissue containing hepatocellular carcinoma, where it remains over three weeks and attacks the tumor cells [Battacharya et al. 1994, Krist et al. 2005 – Higashi/Setoguchi 2000]. The iodized products of poppy seed oil’s fatty acid ethyl esters, being X-ray contrast mediums, are used in sonography, lymphangiography, and paranasal sinus imaging [Choi et al. 1989, Krist et al. 2005 – Burger/Wachter 1993, 7. Auflage, pg. 1045]. Iodized poppy seed oil can be administered in cases of iodine deficiency, and is also used as a diagnostic aid in sonography, hysterosalpingography, and angiography [Benmiloud et al. 1994, Furnee et al. 1998].
In cosmetics, warm-pressed poppy seed oil is used in soap production, where it can very easily create hard soaps [Janystin 1978, pg. 622; Hackbarth 1944, pg. 120]. Poppy seed oil is absorbed rapidly into the skin, replenishing lipids and increasing the skin’s elasticity –features which also make it a component in care products such as anti-wrinkle creams, body lotions and balms; as well as suitable for dry skin. Poppy seed oil is also used as massage oil [Martindale 1993, pg. 1404].
In the kitchen
Due to its interesting and aromatic flavor, cold-pressed poppy seed oil is used as high-quality cooking oil. Its high unsaturated fatty acid content allows it to also lower elevated cholesterol levels. Poppy seed oil should, however, not be heated to temperatures exceeding 170˚C, which means it is only suitable for frying and baking under certain conditions. Poppy seed oil’s chief use is especially in cold foods – in refining salads and cold dishes, crudités, desserts, and müsli. Because of its delicate nutty flavor, poppy seed oil is used to refine sweet dishes such as poppy seed noodles, poppy seed pies, and poppy seed cake. The oil functions as a flavor carrier, thereby enhancing the flavor of the dish itself.
Poppy seed oil, due to its drying capacity, is well-suited as a basic material in artist’s paint production. Unfortunately, however, poppy seed oil disintegrates and softens at high temperatures, as well as dissolves when exposed to chemical reagents. These disadvantages can be overcome, however, by using a so-called stand oil. This is produced by heating the poppy seed oil in a carbon dioxide current at 250–260˚C for 60 hours. Today, poppy seed oil and linseed oil are among the oils most widely used in the manufacture of artist’s paints. Poppy seed oil, in contrast to linseed oil, is less likely to yellow and also has a more stable plasticity; yet poppy seed oil is somewhat more sensitive to processing. Poppy seed oil best suited for painting is taken from white poppy seeds. Poppy seed oil paints should not be applied to overly greasy, non-absorbent surfaces [Hackbarth 1944, pg. 120].
Since poppy seed oil possesses qualities similar to those of linseed oil and is absorbed quickly, it is also used for wood care and leather care in the furniture industry.
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In addition to their own knowledge acquired through press trials, the following sources were used to create the article:
- Öle, natürlich kaltgepresst, Basiswissen & Rezepte, Marcus Hartmann, Hädecke, 2008
- Heilende Öle, Pflanzenöle als Nahrungs- und Heilmittel, Neue Erkenntnisse, Günter Albert Ulmer Verlag Tuningen
- Lexikon der pflanzlichen Fette und Öle, Krist, Buchbauer, Klausberger, SpringerWienNewYork, 2008