Emu oil is a product on the rise in recent years.  Always looking for ways to slow down aging, increase health and use natural products rather than chemicals, people are looking to emu oil for the solution.

What is Emu Oil and how is it Harvested?

As the name implies, emu oil comes from the large Australian bird, the emu.  These birds are An Emu; Photo courtesy of Robert Alfers, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo courtesy of Robert Alfers, Source: Wikimedia Commonsraised much like cattle for their meat.  Though red meat, the bird's meat is healthier than other red meats and is popular among health conscious meat-eaters.[3]  The oil from the emu is extracted at the time the bird is processed for the meat.   Emus have a big pad of fat across its back and this is where the majority of the lubricant is extracted; though some is processed from the remainder of the body as well.  According to emu farmer, Dee Dee Mares on her blog site “Emu Lady,” the farm emu has about 15-30 pounds of fat when it is 14 months old.

There are three basic steps to processing the oil:

  • melting
  • filtering 
  • deodorizing 

After the fat is melted down, it has to be filtered.  This process removes most of the water from the fat as well as excess protein molecules.  Some processing facilities use a chemical base to filter the grease; hexane, the same chemical used for most of the vegetable oil processed.  Other processing plants use silica-based fine clay. The filtering process eliminates bacteria and produces the oil.  The oil is cooled and furthered separated as the clear lubricant rises to the top and the creamy, thicker liquid falls to the bottom.[5]

Once the oil is filtered, it goes through the deodorizing step.  A burst of stream blown through the lubricant is the typical method for this step; the lower the temperature, the better the oil.  The steam also further sterilizes it.[3]

As popularity in the product has risen, so has concerns about the “pureness” of the oil.  The American Emu Association (AEA) certifies many emu oil products.  A lab runs tests on batches and analyzes components of the lubricant.  A stamp of approval ensures the composition, stability and purity of it and also allows tracking to specific batches if problems arise. Products passed by the AEA will carry a certified seal of approval.

Benefits of Emu Oil

Aborigines in Australia have used fat from the big bird for centuries for everything from Emu Farming; Photo courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture, Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Photo courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture, Source: Wikimedia Commonshealing wounds and burns to easing sore muscles and arthritis. There are very few scientific studies to support the claims, but many have tried emu oil for various ailments and claim good results.  In the mid-1800s the bird's fat was not only used widely by native peoples in Australia and New Zealand, but it made its way into other European countries.[4]  In the late 1980s the emu came to American farmers for its meat and byproducts; and by the end of the 1990s, athletes and trainers and burn centers were using emu oil for its healing properties.[4]

Proponents of the fat claim it reduces wrinkles, heals burns, soothes itching insect bites, eases the pain from arthritis and muscle or joint aches, and reduces swelling.  Further claims add it reduces dandruff, moisturizes dry skin, clears acne, aids in weight loss and faEmu oil; photo by Cheryl WeldonCredit: Photo by Cheryl Weldondes scars and age spots.  The medicinal properties of the product may be attributed at least in part, to its ability to penetrate the skin layers with ease.  Other medicines combined with the oil are therefore distributed to the deeper layers more efficiently, thus effecting healing.  Moisturizing dry skin and clearing acne seem contradictory, yet people on both sides claim positive results. 

Emu oil is considered by many to be the answer to just about any ailment they are experiencing.  However, scientifically, the results of the bird's fat have not been studied enough to support such claims.  Speaking first hand from trying out this wonder oil for its anti-aging claims, it does reduce the fine lines of aging; as for the other benefit claims, only studies and perhaps an individual’s own experimenting will tell.


The copyright of the article The Skinny on Emu Oil is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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