From Goats to Your Face: 13 Fun Facts About Argan Oil Production
Many people love argan oil, yet few understand where it comes from, how it’s processed and how exactly to use it. Like so many other natural remedies we use today, there are significant benefits of its use.Of course, there are pros and cons to the different methods of harvesting, as well as uses for the oil.
With the race to find the fountain of youth, many people are beginning to explore more of the organic solutions available for skin care, hair conditioning and other various health benefits. Known for its amazing results, argan oil is a must-have product. Before you race out and buy anything though, make sure you are familiar with the different types of oils available and exactly how they can benefit you.
1. Argan Oil: Common Uses and Benefits
The craze over this wonder working oil has shown the world just what this rich oil can do. Once processed, you can use it to do things like:
- Reduce Stretch Marks
- Moisturize Skin
- Soothe Razor Burns
- Condition Hair
- Tone Skin
- Boost Immune System
- Treat Acne
For years, people have used argan oil to nourish their bodies and protect their skin and hair from the effects of aging. It can help reduce those tiny wrinkles that everyone wants to avoid, and it gives your skin a vibrant glow. You may be wondering how this natural oil produces such grand results. Here are twelve fun facts about argan oil production that will surely peak your interest.
2. Where on Earth Does Argan Oil Come From?
Argan oil grows as the fruit of Argan trees. Historians believe that this miracle tree originated in a small village named Argana, in the country of Morocco. The fruit of the tree, once peeled of its outer shell, produces a nut that holds the oil. For centuries, the people of Morocco used the oil for healing and cosmetic advantages.
Because this type of tree is only found in this specific region, the oil it produces is considered to be a rarity. The process of extraction can be quite involved, and often the harvests yield small amounts of the precious oil. The trees themselves provide sustenance to livestock in the area and live up to two hundred years. Just in the past century, the number of live argan trees has been cut in half due to the demand for its fruit.
3. Cosmetic vs Culinary: The Grades of Argan Oil
It’s important to know that there are two separate grades of argan oil. The difference lies not with the oil itself, but rather how it is processed. The process in which the oil is extracted is what sets apart the two grades of oil. People generally use cosmetic argan oil as a raw product, whereas culinary argan oil must be lightly roasted first to draw out its naturally nutty flavor. When shopping for this product, be sure to pay attention to labels.Though it wouldn’t be detrimental to your health to confuse the two grades, it’s in your best interests to buy the right product to fit your needs. There are a few things to consider when you are comparing the two grades of oil, such as:
- Color– You will find that culinary argan oils are significantly darker in color than any of the cosmetic oils you will find. The argan oil beauty products available in retail stores tend to have a more of a light golden tint.
- Smell – Most cosmetic products containing argan oil won’t have as strong of scent when comparing them to the culinary grade products offered. Often with beauty products, because the oil is mixed in with other ingredients, and the fact that during production it isn’t roasted, the smell is not as pronounced.
- Taste – Not that it’s recommended to taste your cosmetics, but if you are comparing the two grades of oil it’s worth pointing out the rich nutty flavor that you’ll find with most culinary oils.
4. From the Fruit to Your Cabinet: Understanding the Argan Oil Harvesting Process
There is a plethora of information available on the different ways the Moroccans harvest argan oil, ranging from old historical natural methods to new automatic manufactured processing. In Morocco, there are indigenous goats thatclimb the limbs of the argan trees to reach their favorite snack, which just so happens to help speed up the harvesting process. The goats don’t eat the fruit, but they devour the peel, leaving behind small nuts filled with pure argan oil.
Traditional Hand-Press Production
If you’re struggling to connect the benefits of the goats, have no fear. The next step in the traditional method of extraction, and an interesting historical fact to boot, is to manually crack open the nut. Historically, the women of Morocco were left with the tedious task of peeling any remaining skin from the fruit, then cracking open the nut with their hands or often stones carved specifically for this process.
As you can imagine, the traditional method described above was often time consuming and difficult on the hands of the women harvesting. After hours invested in hard manual labor, this method yielded only small amounts of the oil.
Over time, mechanical press-production has become the most common method used for extraction in the industry today. There are now specialized mechanical oil-press machines that take away the chore of cracking open the Argan fruit by hand, and prove to harvest the fruit much faster than the traditional method.
Mechanical-press production often referred to as cold –press extraction. Through this process, the lifetime of the oil is much longer than if you were to hand press the fruit or use any sort of chemical process.
There is also a method to produce the oil via a chemical production process, but it is not considered a favorable method, and is only used in laboratory settings or for industrial purposes.
When processed chemically, the nutrients in the oil are often reduced and products created in this manner just don’t last as long as those that are mechanically produced.
5. The Evolution of the Oil: What Happens After the Harvest?
Once harvested, the oil can be processed in various ways. It can be sold completely pure or diluted in increments, depending on what the intended use is for. Depending on the grade, the oil you use in the kitchen won’t necessarily be the same as what you would use for daily beauty use or skin care. Be sure to research different types of argan oil, as many products today are often mixed with more affordable oils that may cancel out the bountiful benefits of the pure product.
6. Processing: The Down sides of Production
With the high demand worldwide to continue to produce this rare oil, the argan trees in Morocco face an uncertain future. The tree is currently under protection through an organization called UNESCO Biosphere, which works globally to sustain endangered areas and promote solutions in conservation of our natural resources. They placed the tree under protection in 1998, and it continues to be a struggle to protect the region in which the trees grow.
Given that the oil is so rare, the processing and production of the oil can also be expensive. With export costs and prices that reflect the high demand of the product, it plants an increased cost of the overall process. It is a heavily involved process that requires drying the nuts and pressing them to extract the oils.
7. Reasons Fair Trade is Important
Large corporations pushing the demand for supply of this oil need to understand the importance of the effects that mass production of the product has on the regional citizens. Although it may be challenging to determine whether a product you are buying is considered to be certified as a fair trade item, it’s beneficial to take the extra time to find out.
By contracting out the manual labor of extracting the oils by hand, companies are able to lower the bottom line cost of the product. Unfortunately, that takes its toll on the local women who rely on their harvesting income to provide for their families.
Most companies skip the costly administrative process of certifying their products through organizations such as Fair Trade USA and Fair Trade International. Nicholas Magnan, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia, advises to verify through Internet research and purchase the oils directly from Moroccan co-operatives, if possible.
8. Processing: The Positives of Argan Oil Production
Moving off of the negative effect that harvesting this product has, like the disturbing decline in the number of argan trees today, the popularity of its oils brings overwhelming recognition and visibility to the Moroccan region, and is now a heavy focus for conservation activists worldwide.
Environmentalists have begun to work together on sustainability initiatives to keep the species of tree alive and plentiful. We are beginning to see corporate organizations joining the cause to protect this small but fascinating region of the world. The list of pros to production of this oil could go on for days, but here are just a few of the amazing benefits of the process:
9. The Birth of Co-Operatives in Morocco
Although the women of Morocco have been processing argan oil for years, the increased demand for the product has convinced many locals to form co-operatives in an effort to keep the supply up with the ever-growing demand. These co-operative groups are providing income to the women, as well as a step up in the social ladder.
Not only does this serve as a source of income for those that work within the co-operatives, but it also brings a sense of unity to the people of Morocco. They work together to share their rich resources with the rest of world.
This opportunity for women of the region to expand their capabilities is changing the culture of the country. Though this proves to be efficient progress, there is still the chance that these women will end up being exploited for their contributions. It’s a balancing act that will hopefully end well, and it’s something to be aware of, even amidst the wonderful opportunities it is bring to the region.
By purchasing this anti-aging oil, you are helping to provide opportunities in a third-world country. The impact of argan oil sales help support women’s co-operatives and assist in the efforts to conserve the regions natural resources.
10. Beauty Benefits: Just to List a Few You Can Find
Used in many cosmetic products today, argan oil can help to promote healthy skin, thicker hair and stronger nails. Hundreds of beauty products advertise the inclusion of this rare oil in everything from shampoo to skin conditioners.
If purchasing any cosmetic product containing argan oil, you will surely experience the rich moisturizing qualities of the oil. It can be applied various ways to enhance natural beauty and health, and should feel luxurious when massaged into the skin.
Repair Your Damaged Hair
For damaged, over-processed or color-treated hair, argan oil can work wonders if you use it regularly. Try massaging the oil into the hair and scalp for a deep conditioning treatment. The oil will quickly absorb into your hair, and once rinsed, your hair look fuller and shiny almost instantly.Over time, the oil will help repair the natural state of the hair to provide healthy beautiful locks.
Strengthen Your Brittle Nails
If you are prone to thin or brittle nails, argan oil can save the day. By applying directly to the nail and gently rubbing the oil in, its restorative capabilities can get to work right away and the natural vitamins begin to absorb and bring some shine back to your nails. With extended long-term use, people often see a significant improvement in the overall look and strength of their nails.
Heal Your Dry or Cracking Skin
Taking care of your skin, especially during the winter months can be daunting. Try replacing your everyday lotion with all natural pure argan oil. By rubbing it into your skin, you should feel a noticeable difference as the moisture from the oil seeps in and gets to work restoring the top layers of skin. Particularly on rough areas of skin, this is an effective organic alternative to other costly products.
It’s rich in vitamin E and anti-oxidants that add a special glow to your skin. The native women of Morocco are known for their beauty, and many attribute the claim to using Argan oil daily in a variety of ways. Many recommend using it as a natural skin moisturizer.
11. The Health Benefits of Argan Oil
Argan oil has been proven to reduce cholesterol levels, risk of heart attacks and other physical ailments. It protects the body’s arteries and provides vital nutrients to supplement your diet and natural production of necessary acids throughout the body. If consumed regularly, it can also reduce the risk of experiencing hypertension.
Just like any other vitamin you would take daily, it is easy to add argan oil to your daily regimen. A healthy and creative way to integrate the oil into your everyday diet is to take to the kitchen and replace some of the other oils you commonly use with argan oil.
There is an ingredient in argan oil called triterpenoids that helps heal scar tissue, while also protecting your skin from harmful sun rays. The active ingredient does wonders within the oil, and it also works as an anti-inflammatory agent.
12. Argan Oil: What’s Cooking in Your Kitchen?
If you are the type of person to branch out and try new things, argan oil could no doubt be a welcome addition to your cooking routine at home. It has been known to add a rich nutty taste to a host of different recipes. While it is sometimes compared to olive oil in the kitchen, argan oil has distinct characteristics and a unique flavor.
The oil adds the perfect touch to salads, soups and other gourmet dishes. Many people also use the oil as a dipping sauce to accompany fresh breads. There is a plethora of recipes available that will guide you in the right direction with incorporating the use of argan oil into your cooking style.
You can use it more to flavor dishes than for frying foods. That’s one of the differences between argan oil and olive oil. With olive oil, you aren’t going to get the delectable scent that comes from natural argan oil, either. When grocery shopping, be sure to contemplate the different options to add to your recipes.
Just as it benefits those who use the oil cosmetically, consumption through your everyday diet will improve your overall health. Even just used as a salad dressing, it will bring that famous Moroccan glow to you skin.
13. Argan Oil Shopping: How to Snag the Highest Quality Products
It’s important to pay close attention to ingredient labels with any argan oil product you purchase. As mentioned when discussing the fair trade controversy in our current economy, there are products that may not be manufactured in an organic and fair process. This is why reading the information on the product bottle is crucial.
Also, knowing that certain items are often diluted with other substances or fillers, by reading the labels you can ensure that your products are harvested and manufactured in a superior manner. It never hurts to double check what you’re spending your hard earned cash on, so here are a few tips to follow when researching which products to purchase.
Argan Oil: How to Read the Labels
Some companies will mix pure argan oil with other less expensive oils to save cost and boost profits. A fool proof way to ensure you are buying the right oil is to purchase the products that don’t have a laundry list of ingredients included. Pure means pure, which should lead to only one ingredient, which is argan oil.
Sometimes you may not be looking to buy pure oil, and in that case – at least look to see if the product is cleared through the fair trade consumer initiatives.
Don’t Be Shy: Take a Closer Look
If you are purchasing the raw and pure oil, it naturally should have alight nutty scent. You know you’re in trouble if it smells of perfumes. That’s not natural – that’s over processed. Either way, you don’t have the pure oil. If there is no longer a faint nutty smell, chances are the vital nutrients and minerals have also been stripped away. In this instance, the oil will no longer have the amazing effects that the pure oil provides.
For cooking, you want to look for that darker color in the bottle, and the rich nutty aroma should be obvious with a quality culinary product.
If you have the chance, rub the oil in between your fingers. The natural texture of argan oil should not be runny and should feel rather smooth to the touch. If your oil is extremely runny or more like water – it’s not the real deal. You will most likely find this in the less expensive products on the shelves, as it’s probably diluted to try and fill up the fancy bottle it is sold in.
The production of argan oil is still in high demand today and continues to increase in popularity, particularly in the beauty industry. New products pop up regularly advertising the inclusion of Moroccan argan oil as an ingredient. As consumers, we must remember to appreciate the rarity of the product when shopping for oils, and try and find the best products to suit your needs.
The beautiful country of Morocco puts their all into the production of their most popular export. Learning about the process and different methods of production offers us a glimpse into the culture of the country. To know that a tiny fruit can provide such rejuvenating benefits is truly amazing.