Almond (bitter) oil is extracted from Prunus amygdalus var. amara, of the Rosaceae family, but is also known as P. dulcis var. amara and Prunus communis.
If you are looking for sweet almond oil used as base carrier oil, please click here.
Bitter almond oil contains prussic acid, known as cyanide, and is a well known poison.
Origin of Bitter almond oil
The Bitter almond tree is native to Western Asia and North Africa and is widely cultivated in Spain, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
Separating the kernels from their shells and then crushing them in a press produces a fixed oil.
Bitter almond oil is not present in the nuts in their natural state.
The prussic acid is removed from the kernels by alkali washing and rectification. The ‘almond essence’ thus produced is used as a food flavoring.
The main chemical components of bitter almond oil are benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic (prussic acid).
The crushed kernels yield about 30% of a fixed oil similar to sweet almond oil.
The powdered cake left after pressing, is then macerated in water to split the naturally occurring glycoside, amygdaline by enzymatic action, and is then distilled to yield 1% bitter almond essential oil
Bitter almond oil should never be used in therapy.
The human ingestion of 7.5 ml of Bitter almond oil has resulted in death, so this oil should be handled with great care.