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Flax oil good for humans, pets

Cal Stengel, owner of Stengel Oil in Milbank, watches as flax oil runs through the purifying system. (Matt Gade / Republic)1 / 10
Stengel Oils of Milbank sells flax oil both for human consumption and animal consumption. (Matt Gade / Republic)2 / 10
Flax oil is one of the leading sources of Omega-3. (Matt Gade / Republic)3 / 10
50 gallon barrels are stacked up waiting to be filled with Flax Oil at Stengel Oils in Milbank. (Matt Gade / Republic)4 / 10
Flax is squeezed out after most of the oil has been taken out of it. The Flax still contains some Omega-3 and is sold as a good source of feed for animals. (Matt Gade / Republic)5 / 10
Stengel Oils of Milbank fills Flax Oil orders as they come in keeping track of the orders on their board. (Matt Gade / Republic)6 / 10
Crushed Flax is contained and held waiting to be sold off for animal consumption. (Matt Gade / Republic)7 / 10
Flax seeds are transported through tankers outside through pipes to be crushed and the oil drained from them at Stengel Oils of Milbank. (Matt Gade / Republic)8 / 10
Stengel Oils of Milbank sells Flax Oil both for human consumption and animal consumption. (Matt Gade / Republic)9 / 10
Stengel Oils of Milbank stores the flax seed in bins outside of their buidling. (Matt Gade / Republic)10 / 10

MILBANK – Flaxseed is growing in popularity and is boosting business for one South Dakota company.

As more people across the state learn about the benefits of the “health conscious” flaxseed, Stengel Oils, in Milbank, is seeing the impact. The business, created in 2005, began when Cal Stengel learned how to create flaxseed into oil in Washington.

He and his family moved to Washington in 1998 when Stengel worked at a facility that produced flax oil. While there, he learned the process and he then moved to South Dakota in 2005 to create Stengel Oil.

Approximately only 18,000 acres of flaxseed were harvested within South Dakota in 2015, according to the state Department of Agriculture. Flaxseed grows best on marginal and drier land, making the Dakotas a popular planting site, according to Stengel.

But despite the small amount of harvested acres across South Dakota, the seed is growing in popularity.

“It’s one of these health conscious items,” Stengel said. “The omega-3 is what is really important.”

Stengel said humans cannot produce omega-3, requiring the body to find alternative ways to receive the fatty acid. But, according to Stengel, flax oil contains 55 to 60 percent of omega-3, making it a “good source.”

Today, flaxseed is often used to produce oil for human consumption, Stengel said.

“When it first came out, a lot of people said you couldn’t drink flax oil but you can because it hasn’t been exposed to high temperature and high pressure,” Stengel said.

There are two different products Stengel Oil makes for human consumption. Stengel Oils markets a flax oil and a flax oil with lignan, which is plant materials, added back to the product. The lignan adds fiber to the oil.

The oil can be mixed into food such as smoothies, as long as it is kept cold.

“It’s not a cure-all but (omega-3) is needed in every cell of the body, so it helps out with a lot of deficiencies in the diet. Especially with joints, arthritis and stiff movements for both humans and pets,” Stengel said.

Working with out-of-state producers

Soon, omega-3 enhanced eggs could be seen on more grocery store shelves with the help of flax oil.

Stengel Oils has been working with poultry producers in Indiana and Pennsylvania to bring these eggs to the market using the flax oil made in its facility.

To create more omega-3 eggs, chickens must have the flax oil as an integral part of their diet throughout their lifetime, Stengel said.

To make flax oil, Stengel uses a cold process, meaning the oil never goes above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It is kept between 85 and 105 degrees as it passes through presses at 60 rotations per minute.

Two products are created as the seeds go through the press: flax oil and flax meal. The flax oil is then further filtered down to one-tenth of a micron and the pure flax oil is stored into tanks until ready to be sold as bulk or retail.

Pets benefit from flax diet

Flax oil can also prove beneficial for pets, and Stengel has been producing flax oil for animals for the past six years.

Sammy’s Shiny Coat, the pet flax oil product, is a human grade oil that can be put on any pet food as a top dressing.

“You don’t have to change their diet or change what they are eating,” Stengel said of pets. “So it as a top dressing and the pet is getting the benefits of the omega-3.”

But the amount given to each animal is dependent on the size.

Sandy Christenson, advertising and promotion at Stengel Oils, recommended that an animal gets a half teaspoon of oil for every 10 pounds the animal weighs.

“The fur will start to be noticeably softer,” she said.

Besides dogs and cats, the flax oil can also be ordered in bulk sizes for equine and poultry.

“Any animal can use it (flax oil). It helps with the coat, hairballs, muscles, allergies and the immune system,” Christensen said.

Animals can also receive the benefits of omega-3 through the flax oil byproduct, flax meal.

According to Stengel, there is 12 to 15 percent omega-3s left in the flax meal pellets as it comes out of the presses. Leaving some oil still in the meal makes the byproduct an “excellent animal feed,” he said.

After the pellets come out of the presses, it is ground up and put into tote bags to be sold in bulk for animal feed.

But as the company looks to the future, Christensen said there’s room for expansion for other animal feed and research opportunities.

“There is so much potential in flax oil and it’s just beginning,” Christensen said.