Safflower field

More safflower oil would have to be produced to make it practical for widespread use.


Safflower is a plant with a long history of use, perhaps beginning when the yellow flowers and oil-containing seeds were used to dye the cloth wrapping used in ancient mummification processes. More modern applications of safflower include widespread use as a natural medicine in both Eastern and Western cultures. Likewise, the oil from safflower seeds is used as a more heart-healthy substitute for other cooking oils.

Safflower oil has a low gel point, making it an interesting oil to consider for biodiesel production. But widespread use of safflower as a fuel source may be limited by its popularity -- or lack thereof -- in the agricultural world. The 604,000 metric tons of safflower produced worldwide in 2004 are tiny compared to corn or soy production, and it's a sharp decrease from the 800,000 to 900,000 tons typically produced per year in the mid-90s. Adapting safflower harvests to meet biofuel demands would mean reversing this trend and producing significantly more of this ancient, multipurpose plant [source: Jimmerson].