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What is Argan Oil?

In depth Guide to Argan Oil

Argan Oil is a natural oil made from the nuts of the Argania Spinosa tree.

The Argan tree grows in the region between Marrakech and Agadir in Morocco. It grows very slowly and produces a green fruit containing a nut which has 3 milky white, oil-rich kernels.

These nut kernels are extracted by hand by Berber women in cooperatives and cold-pressed into pure Argan Oil.

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Where Does Real Argan Oil Come From?

Map showing location of Argan forests and Argan trees in Morocco
Map: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology: Project Turner

The Argan tree is an ancient tree. It is a relic of the Earth’s Tertiary Period which ended about 1.6 million years ago.

The tree may grow up to ten meters tall and can live for over 200 years.
It has small leaves 2–4 cm long and silver-green in colour. In April it produces small small flowers with five pale yellow-green petals.

The Argan fruit that it produces is 2 to 4 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm in diameter. Each fruit has a thick, fleshy, bright green peel surrounding the hard nut held inside.

The Argan tree grows most prolifically in the arid, salty soil. This is found near to the coast and in the low mountains within a narrow band of the country between Essaouira and Agadir.

Argan trees will grow on mountain slopes in very arid regions. They protect soil against water loss as well as rain or wind-induced erosion.

This helps to maintain soil fertility and slows down desertification. A hybrid version of the Argan tree in israel is actually being grown in an attempt to reclaim arid desert lands.

Argan trees and the forests are owned by communities or individual families.

The size of the forest had been in decline after decades of misuse leaving the tree’s survival endangered. Villagers used wood from the trees for heating and making charcoal.

They grazed their livestock – goats and camels – on the Argan tree leaves and fruits. This has continued for many years resulting in a deterioration in the quality of the forests.

Now the income generated for the communities by the Argan tree has brought a new respect for the forests. With the increased demand for Argan Oil new trees and being planted and the Argan forests expanded.

To protect the tree, UNESCO declared the area in which the Argan tree grows a “biosphere reserve”.

The reserve covers more than 2,560,000 hectares and is bordered by the High Atlas and Anti-Atlas Mountains and open to the Atlantic in the west.

Programs have also been put in place to help protect the trees from being used for grazing by goats and camels. International support and modernisation of Argan Oil production has become a model for Agro-Forestry and the cooperative system of working.

Berber Women’s Cooperatives

Berber women making Argan Oil

Argan Oil is made almost exclusively by the Berber women’s cooperatives of Morocco.

The cooperative movement was started in part Professor Zoubida Charrouf and others to help Berber communities compete with the foreign owned pressing plants.

It was as a professor at Mohamed V. University in Morocco that Professor Charrouf developed an interest in the Argan tree.

She was determined to spread the word of the wonderful benefits of Argan Oil for skin care, hair and for health. This was also done with a passion for conservation of this natural resource.

Professor Charrouf’s work lead to NGOs from Europe and Morocco providing funding for the development of cooperatives., investment in new mechanical presses, organic certification and buildings

This has brought huge increases in income to the cooperatives and families of the region. Fair trade has emancipated women by paying a fair, sustainable living wage.

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They used modern cold-pressing machines to produce more oil from the nuts and speed up the production process. The oil was also richer and had a lower water content than oil made by the traditional “water and dough” method.

The role of the women of the Berber communities was reduced to little more than a supplier of raw Argan nut kernels.

Investors even tried to replace the Berber Women who break open the ultra-hard Argan nut casing by hand with modern nut cracking machines.

Fortunately, after the development of women’s cooperatives most of the production process, from harvest to extraction, is carried out by local people.

The Argan Oil Production Process

argan tree nuts, fruits, husks and nut kernels

The Argan tree fruits ripen in June / July. When they ripen they are 2 cm or more long and green bright green colour.

Families and communities come together to complete the long and arduous job of getting the fruit off the trees with sticks and collecting them from the ground.

Once gathered the bright green Argan tree fruits are left to dry until they form a dark brown husk around the Argan nut. These husks are stored in large sacks until they are needed.

When ready to press oil the husks are removed to reveal the brown Argan nut. These nuts are hard to break and the process is still done by teams of women who crack the nuts open by hand.

Inside each nut are 2 or 3 pale yellow, bitter tasting kernels. Over 2 Kg of nut kernels are cold-pressed to extract one litre of pure oil.

After pressing the oil is filtered to yield a yellow coloured oil which has an Argan nut scent. This oil may also be filtered a second time to extract additional sediments and yield an oil that has almost no Argan nut smell – “deodorised” Argan Oil.

Culinary Argan Oil is produced by a slightly different process. To make a edible culinary Argan Oil the pale yellow nut kernels are toasted before being cold pressed to extract the oil.

The Different Grades of Argan Oil.

Pure Argan Oil Bottle
Pure Argan Oil 65ml
Pure double filtered Organic Argan Oil with almost no Argan nut smell.

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There are two main types of Argan Oil.
Culinary Argan Oil and cosmetic Argan Oil.

Culinary Argan Oil is used for cooking and eating or nutritional supplements. It has a golden brown colour and a toasted, nutty smell.

Culinary Argan Oil is very rich in vitamins, omega fatty acids and other nutrients. It has been used in Morocco in traditional medicine for the treatment of health problems.

New research is now confirming the effects of culinary Argan Oil for health. Culinary Argan Oil is not suitable for cosmetic use.

The 3 Grades of Cosmetic Argan Oil.
– Single Filtered oil. This has a medium yellow colour and an Argan nut scent which is a natural olive/citrus smell.
– Filtered with Active Carbon. A small amount of oil production in Morocco is doubled filtered using active carbon. This is an inert compound that removes sediment without affecting theoil. Carbon filtered oil has a lighter yellow colour and has a more perfumed, sweeter smell less like olive.
– Double Filtered Oil. The purest grade of Argan Oil is filtered twice to remove all sediment. This oil has a pale yellow colour and almost no Argan nut fragrance.

You can buy both single filtered scented oil and odourless Argan Oil on our online store.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Argan Oil – Free Ebook


The Ultimate Guide to Argan Oil

This is our Free eBook about Pure Cosmetic and Culinary Moroccan Argan Oil.

Our34 page eBook is a complete inside guide to the history of Argan Oil.
Learn about….
– the origins of the Argan Forests
– How Argan Oil is Made
– How the Berber Cooperatives Harvest Argan Oil
– The Chemistry of Argan Oil
– Culinary Argan Oil for Eating and Health
– How to use Cosmetic Argan Oil for Skin and Hair Care

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What is in Moroccan Argan Oil?


A number of studies have been done to explain the traditional uses of Argan Oil for cosmetics and health. Argan Oil analysis has revealed some of the nutrients that are responsible for the effects of Argan Oil.
This is a list of some of the most important nutrients in Argan Oil’s composition that give it it’s unique benefits:

Anti Oxidant TocopherolsArgan Oil has over twice the Vitamin E content of Olive oil. This high anti oxidant levels help prevent damage to skin by “free radical” that age cells. Anti oxidants in the Argan Oil chemical formula is also important for promoting cell proliferation. [1]

Essential Fatty Acids
Analysis of Argan Oil shows that it is very rich in Omega 6 and Omega 3 are healthy fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential to keep skin pliable and also play a role in reducing inflammation.

Triterpenoids
Argan Oil contains Triterpinoids. Once of these Triterpinoids, called Tirucallol, has an important role in cicatrisation – which is the process that heals damage to the skin.

Beta Amyrine
Beta Amyrine is contained in many herbal products to stimulate cell growth and increase the healing process for skin damage. It has the ability to stimulate cell to generate and to synthesise new collagen. It is reported to be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of psoriasis. [1]

Butyrospermol
Butyrospermol has a powerful anti inflammatory effect that may be of benefit in reducing inflammation of the skin and internal inflammation in problems such as Arthritis.

Lupenol
Lupenol has a strong antiseptic effect.

What is Moroccan Oil?

The Difference between “Moroccan Oil” and Argan Oil
Moroccan Oil is a name widely used to describe products which may or in many cases may not be genuine Argan Oil.

Genuine Argan Oil is produced from the nut kernel of the Argan tree in Morocco.
This is why some companies use the name Moroccan oil to refer to Argan Oil.

There is also a brand with the name “MoroccanOil”.
This is not pure Argan Oil but a hair treatment brand which does not claim to be pure Argan Oil but uses the name “MoroccanOil” as a brand only.

What is Argon Oil?

Argan Oil and Argon Oil
Argon Oil is simply a mis-spelling of Argan Oil.

If you have been searching to learn about the benefits of “Argon Oil” hopefully you will not have come across any websites selling a product labelled “Argon”.

In fact if you find companies or websites advertising “Argon Oil”, incorrectly spelt , they are probably best avoided.
After all if they have not checked that the name of their product is spelt correctly what chance is their that it is genuine Argan Oil!

Can I Buy Argan Oil Cheaper Elsewhere?

Be careful of very cheap Argan Oil – it does not exist.

For over 19 years we have worked only with genuine, authenticated suppliers that we know.

I was born in Morocco and my family are Berber. We started our by work directly with friends and family working in the Berber cooperatives.

Our goal is to increase trade for the cooperatives of Morocco that are making such a difference to women lives. So we keep our prices are as low as possible but for real, authentic, fair-trade, pure Argan Oil.

We avoid unnecessary packaging using light-weight packing to reduce environmental waste. This also allows us to offer free world-wide delivery for any order.

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