PHYSICAL-CHEMICAL DATA AND APPLICATIONS
Babassu oil (Orbignya oleífera) is similar to the palm kernel oil in its physical and chemical properties with a high content of lauric and myristic acids. Typical is its melting behavior: when it comes into contact with the skin, it immediately melts and produces a soft, silky skin feel, spreads excellent and quickly (comparable to coconut oil), but not deeply into the skin. In emulsions, it reduces the viscosity. A special feature of babaçu oil is its high content of lauric acid, which has an antimicrobial effect. The cosmetics industry, therefore, uses babaçu oil not only in dry, brittle skin but also in oily skin or mixed skin with inflammatory impurities as well as a cooling oily component for itchy, neurodermatitis skin. As a high-spreading oil, it is very suitable for massage oil.
In the manufacture of soap is used to replace the fats of animal origin, and as a raw material for the production of surfactants for industrial and cosmetic purposes.
It is said that everything of the palm tree can be used. Its leaves are used in roofing; fibers of the leaves are used to produce baskets, sieves, mats, among other craft products. Green almonds still provide milk with nutritional properties similar to human milk and widely used in cooking. From the mesocarp is extracted a flour, also called babassu powder, very nutritious, used as a food supplement and to make cakes and porridge. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, is rich in fiber, therefore, great for combating constipation, colitis, and obesity, as it makes the intestinal flow more efficient.
But the main purpose of the almonds is the production of babassu nut oil. This is widely used in cosmetics, food, soap, detergents, lubricants, among others. The extraction of almonds is traditionally homemade, made by local populations and by ” quebradeiras de coco”. The endocarp is used to make charcoal of high calorific potential.
The babassu palm is native to North Brazil and the Cerrado biome concentrated in the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, and Piauí.
The palm tree can reach up to 10 to 30 meters in height and its large leaves can reach eight meters in length. Each palm tree can have between three to five long bunch. The peak of bloom occurs between January and April and the fruits mature between August and December. Each bunch, in turn, can produce 300 to 500 babassu nuts. The shell of the fruit is resistant and holding between 3 to 5 almonds that have commercial value because they are the main raw material for the production of oil.
BALICK, M.J. Babaçu (Orbignya phalerata). In: CLAY, J.W.; SAMPAIO, P.T.B.; CLEMENT, C.R. Biodiversidade amazônica: exemplos e estratégias de utilização. Manaus: Programa de Desenvolvimento Empresarial e Tecnológico, 2000. p.255-265. .
GREEN, P.G.; GUY, R.H.; HADGRAFT, J. In vitro and in vivo enhancement of skin permeation with oleic and lauric acids. Internatioanl Journal of Pharmaceutics, v. 48, issues 1-3, p. 103-111, dec. 1988. .