Candlenut and kukui oil – Description

The Candlenut, is a flowering tree, in the Euphorbiaceae family, also known as Candleberry, Indian walnut, Kemiri, Varnish tree, Nuez de la India, Buah keras or Kukui nut tree. A medium or large sized, spreading, tropical tree up to 50-80ft tall. Cooked nuts are generally edible, although some strains contain high amounts of cyanide. Usually the nut is pressed for its oil, which is used for a variety of industrial purposes like soap making, varnishes, and fuel.
The oil is sometimes used medicinally similar to castor oil, as well as a laxative. In Southeast Asia, the oil is sometimes applied topically to treat headaches, fevers and swollen joints.
In Ancient Hawaii, kukui nuts were burned to provide light. The nuts were strung in a row on a palm leaf midrib, lit one end, and burned one by one every 15 minutes or so. This led to their use as a measure of time. One could instruct someone to return home before the second nut burned out. Hawaiians also extracted the oil from the nut and burned it in a stone oil lamp called a “kukui hele po” (light, darkness goes) with a wick made of kapa cloth.
Other uses of the oil were found in Hawaii such as a coating of fishing nets with kukui oil in order to preserve them.
In Tonga, even today, ripe nuts, named tuitui are pounded into a paste, tukilamulamu, and used as soap or shampoo. As recently as 1993, candlenuts were chewed into sweet-scented emollient utilized during a traditional funerary ritual in the outlying islands of the Kingdom of Tonga. Their scent was also used for making various sweet smelling oils for the skin.

Kukui Hele Po
Kukui Hele Po

Modern cultivation is mostly for the oil. In plantations, each tree will produce 30-80 kg of nuts, and the nuts yield 15 to 20% of their weight in oil. They grow very well in tropical climates with ample rainfall, but also adapt to dry climates. Candlenut’s need little if any care after they are established.

Kukui Nut Oil is a clear, pale, yellow, non-greasy oil, ranking very high amongst polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and can be used for skin and hair care.
It is high in linoleic and linolenic acids. Kukui nut Oil also contains Vitamin A, E and F, and therefore, it is a good oil for anti-aging, revitalising and especially restoring sun damaged skin. The oil has been known to be often used in products that treat psoriasis and eczema, as well as acne.

Identification data

Commercial name Kemiri oil
CAS # 8015-80-3
Botanical name Aleurites moluccana
Plant part Seed 
Origin Indonesia
Manufacturing place Indonesia

Specification of the Kukui seed oil

Parameters Limits Test methods
Appearance Clear, light yellowish liquid Visual
Aroma Light odor Organoleptic
Extraction method Cold press N/A
Relative density 0.909 – 0.915
Refractive index 1.466 – 1.470
Acid Value < 8% P.E. 2.5.1
Peroxide Value < 10 mEq/Kg P.E. 2.5.5
Saponification value 185-195 AOCS Cd 1-85
Iodine value 80-88 AOCS Ca 3a-46
Insoluble Impurities < 0.1% AOCS Ca 3a-46
Linolenic Acid 15-35% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Linoleic Acid 25-55% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Oleic Acid 15-35% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Palmitic Acid 1-10% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Stearic Acid 1-8% AOCS Ce 1e-91
Properties Applications
  • Rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6
  • Soothing, a must for dry skin
  • Efficient against eczema, psoriasis and burns
  • Moisturizing
  • Efficient for dry scalp treatment
  • Moisturizers
  • Anti-Aging Products
  • Hair Care
  • Soap
  • Lip Care


Product description Product specification MSDS

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