Where Does Krill Oil Come From?: How Krill Oil Is Made

How Krill Oil is Made 

Krill oil is a food supplement, usually presented as an oil inside a soft-gel capsule for oral use, that is derived from small creatures that live in the ocean: krill. Krill are tiny aquatic creatures a lot like miniature shrimp, that live in the Antarctic ocean. Oil is extracted from these tiny creatures in order to provide a number of health benefits to humans.  

How are krill harvested? 

Believe it or not, there are such things as krill fisheries – sort of like fish farms for these tiny crustaceans. The fisheries for producing krill oil are actually among the most sustainable fisheries that exist worldwide, and they are regulated and monitored by a number of independent bodies across the world. The catch limits on krill are carefully monitored so that the harvesting of krill doesn’t affect the ecosystem of Antarctica.  

krill oil

The world’s leading producer of krill oil is especially interested in the sustainability of krill fishing, and uses special eco-friendly fishing techniques for the harvesting of krill to ensure that no other animals are caught at the same time, ensuring no unnecessary damage to wildlife or ecosystems. The newest, eco-friendly method of krill fishing allows the krill to be brought, live, onto the boats, where they are immediately processed, preserving all of the nutrients in the resulting oil. Krill are bountiful in the wild, and in fact make up one of the highest marine populations on the planet, meaning that this is a particularly sustainable fish oil to produce.  

How is krill oil extracted?  

Originally, krill oil was taken from these creatures using two different types of medical-grade alcohol. However, this process required two steps and took a lot of time and effort. A newer method has been developed where the oil can be extracted more efficiently from freeze-dried krill, which means that one of the steps in the process is removed, and so the krill oil can be extracted much more quickly.  

But this newer method still uses acetone and isochoric ethanol alcohols, solvents that are not good for the environment. It’s also an expensive process, so is not suitable for producing krill oil on a large scale.  

Most recently, a new method for extracting krill oil has been developed using a solvent called hexane, along with ethanol, which is much more environmentally friendly. This new way of producing krill oil has been compared with the original method and both yield similar results, meaning that krill oil can be extracted with less cost to the environment and to companies producing the oil in bulk, which is good news all round.  

Extracting oil from the krill using an ethanol and hexane combination leads to a product that is high in lipids – the fats that contain the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that krill oil is so well known for. This is where the main benefits of krill oil come from. Krill oil extracted using this method was also found to be high in antioxidants, too, which many people are keen to increase in their diets. 

krill oil

What happens next? Once the oil from krill is extracted, it simply needs to be preserved in a form suitable for human consumption. This is usually to encase it in a soft-gel capsule to be taken orally. Because krill oil has so many natural benefits, nothing needs to be added to it, and because krill are at the bottom of the food chain, their oil is virtually free from pollutants and contaminants, making krill oil a clean, pure, and healthy supplement.