What is Argan Oil Made From?

Argan oil is a highly prized oil known for its numerous health and beauty benefits. Extracted from the nut kernels of the Argan Spinosa tree, which grows exclusively in Morocco, argan oil is rich in nutrients and vitamins that contribute to its effectiveness in both culinary and cosmetic applications. This article explains the intricate process of argan oil production, its unique composition, and the reasons behind its exclusivity to Morocco and high cost.

The Argan Oil Production Process

Argan oil is derived from the nut kernels of the Argan Spinosa tree's fruit. The fruits ripen around June or July, turning bright green or yellow and becoming almond-sized and ovoid.

 

During harvest, communities gather to collect these precious fruits from the trees and the ground. Inside the fruit is a milky pulp encased by a thick peel, which surrounds a very hard-shelled seed known as the Argan nut. Each Argan nut contains up to three oil-rich white kernels from which the oil is extracted. Regardless of the extraction method, the process always begins with these kernels. Pure Argan oil consists solely of oil from these kernels.

Composition of Moroccan Argan Oil

Extracted Argan oil is a blend of nutrients and vitamins. Here are some key components:

  • Antioxidant Tocopherols: Contains twice the Vitamin E of olive oil.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Rich in Omega 6 and Omega 3.
  • Triterpenoids: Play a role in wound healing.
  • Beta Amyrine: Stimulates cell growth.
  • Butyrospermol: Acts as a potent anti-inflammatory.
  • Lupeol: Has antiseptic properties.

Cosmetic vs. Culinary Argan Oil

There are two primary types of Argan oil: cosmetic and culinary. Both are made from cold-pressed Argan nut kernels and contain similar nutrient levels, but they are processed differently.

Cosmetic Argan Oil:
  • Scented, single-filtered cosmetic oil is medium yellow and contains more sediment.
  • Double-filtered oil is odourless, slightly richer in omega fatty acids, and traditionally used for anti-ageing, hair care, and treating skin issues.
  • Pure "deodorised" oil is preferred for hair treatments and moisturising.

 

Culinary Argan Oil:
  • Has a golden brown colour and a nutty flavour due to the toasting of the kernels.
  • Used for cooking and eating, but unsuitable for cosmetic use.

Extraction Methods

Traditional Method:
  • Traditionally, women would extract Argan oil by hand, breaking the nuts with stones, air-drying the kernels, and grinding them into a dough mixed with water.
  • This labor-intensive process takes about a week and 150 kg of raw fruits to produce 5 litres of oil.
  • This method is less common today due to the lower nutrient content and shorter shelf life of the oil produced.

 

Modern Mechanical Cold Pressing:
  • Modern methods use mechanical presses to extract the oil from cold-pressed kernels.
  • This method is faster, reduces water content, and results in oil with a longer shelf life and richer texture.
  • The higher nutrient levels in the cold-pressed oil contribute to its longevity and quality.

Why is Argan Oil Only in Morocco?

Argan trees thrive exclusively in the South-Western region of Morocco. The oil extracted from these trees is unique and highly valued, becoming an important component in both the food and health sectors of Germany and Morocco.

Why is Argan Oil So Expensive?

Argan oil is costly due to its labor-intensive production process and the fact that argan trees grow exclusively in Morocco, making the oil rare and valuable.


Argan oil's journey from the nut kernels of the Argan Spinosa tree to a valued ingredient in beauty and culinary products is a testament to its unique properties and labor-intensive production process. Found only in Morocco, this rare oil's rich nutrient profile makes it a sought-after component in various sectors. Understanding the detailed extraction methods and the factors contributing to its exclusivity and expense underscores the value of this remarkable oil. Whether used for its anti-ageing properties, hair care benefits, or culinary uses, argan oil remains an invaluable asset in both health and beauty realms.

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