Safflower is a plant grown chiefly for the oil obtained from its seeds. The oil is used in cooking and processing foods, and in making paints and varnishes.
Safflower plants are cultivated in warm, dry regions, Including Australia India, Mexico, Spain, and the South-western United States. The plants grow from 1 to 5 feet (0.3 to 1.5 meters) high and have thistle like flowers. Most varieties of safflowers have yellow or orange flowers, but some kinds have red or white flowers. The broad leaves are usually spiny. Safflower seeds are white and shaped like sunflower seeds.
Manufacturers use special machines to extract safflower oil from the seeds. Most manufacturers refine, bleach, and deodorize the oil after extraction. The oil has a light color and a mild flavor. Its high levels of poly unsaturated fat and low levels of saturated fat make it valuable as a salad oil and cooking oil. It is also used in making margarine, mayonnaise, and shortening. Many varnishes and paints contain safflower oil as a drying agent the oil combines rapidly with oxygen in the air.