Argan Oil: A Moroccan Jewel

by Andrea on October 5, 2010

I’ve been hearing about argan oil (Argania spinosa) for several years now, as it’s gained popularity in the USA. While in Morocco at the IFEAT conference, I listened to a wonderful lecture by Professor Saadia Zrira, a Moroccan woman responsible for launching the first female cooperative of women producing argan oil in Morocco.

Professor Zrira’s concentration is the technology of extraction, quality control and women’s issues. As you can imagine, I sat in the front row while she talked! Her interest is in discovering sustainable solutions to poverty and environmental concerns in rural Morocco through the cultivation of indigenous plants and the production of oils.

Argan oil is one of these solutions.


How is it produced?

“Once ripe, argan fruits are typically collected by women and brought to the village where they are broken down the traditional way between two stones. The remaining shells are usually used to feed needed fire. After getting rid of the shells, the almonds are then closely crushed along with some water in a handmade mill called an azerg. Then the obtained dough is kneaded repeatedly and pressed by hands to extract argan oil. The residue is conserved and used to feed livestock. Using this traditional way, it takes more than 10 hours to produce just one liter of argan oil.

“You would appreciate knowing that to produce just one liter of argan oil, you need, in good years, no less than eight argan trees. A long day of labor is needed to get such a precious liter of oil.”

The process includes:

  • argan fruit drying.
  • pulping.
  • getting rid of argan nuts shells one by one and by hand.
  • crushing and grinding roasted argan the traditional way.
  • hand-pressing and extracting this legendary oil.

The oil produced in this traditional method is said to have a shelf life of approximately three to six months. I would suggest buying small amounts two to three times a year and keeping it refrigerated.  This will help keep it fresh.

Professor Zrira shared that there are about 50 women’s cooperatives in Morocco producing argan oil using the traditional method. These cooperatives are a valuable resource for Berber women to make a living.

Copyright http://www.flickr.com/photos/dianjo

 

Research:
There are quite a few studies on the nutritional benefits of using argan oil in your diet. If you go to PubMed and search argan oil, no less than 23 studies show up!

In addition, this website offers some excellent articles about argan oil.

Properties:

There are many claims about the properties of argan oil for the skin. Research into argan oil’s viability in the treatment of psoriasis and acne has shown promising results. There are also many personal reports from people using the oil for protecting the skin, nourishing hair and nails, healing wounds, and for relief from the pain of rheumatism.

Personally, I love the toasted, nutty aroma, the golden color, and the feel of the oil on my skin. I think it is a great carrier for essential oils.

Copyright http://www.flickr.com/photos/dianjo

 

Are you using argan oil? What benefits have you observed?

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Andrea

Owner/Instructor at Aromahead Institute
Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria October 5, 2010 at 10:19 am

My friend Tara was raving about this oil in February. I have several friends who use it on their hair too. I’m inspired to check it out if Karen gets some in!

Reply

Stephanie October 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm

You have certainly made me appreciate my argan oil even more! I love this oil and use it daily in my skin care regime. It is wonderful year round, but will get extra use during the dry months.
It is a personal and a customer favorite.
Thanks for sharing, Andrea!

Reply

Patti Gelini October 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I am a long time fan of Argan oil and would love to see Aromatics carry it.

Reply

Anonymous February 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

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Reply

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Shea Oyler October 4, 2012 at 3:42 am

I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i’m glad reading your article. The web site style is wonderful, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

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Alexis October 17, 2013 at 11:37 am

Argan oil seems to have taken off in the main stream world…and it is now in everything and you can find it everywhere. I wonder if this has changed the sourcing for high quality argan? I am interested in purchasing some but I want to buy from a reputable source – especially one that supports a women’s cooperative. Do you have any sources you could direct me to? Thanks!

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