The Argan tree has adapted well to the harsh hot conditions experienced in Morocco. The tree is in the genus Argania, which is now an endangered species despite once covering most parts of North Africa. The tree has deep roots that are great in protecting it from the hot climate as well as soil erosion. The growing of the tree is minimal and quite specific, which is why the argan oils remain rare and highly valued around the world.
Prior to modern technologies used today, the Berbers of Morocco used to collect Argan pits that were found in goat waste after the goats ate the fruits from the trees and failed to digest them. They would then press the pits to extract the oil which would then be used in cosmetics and in cooking. It is however sad that the tradition has been largely replaced and most oils available are pressed by machine thus losing important values. Handmade Argan Oil has its benefits and enables the extraction of all important nutrients and components of the oil. There are still high quality hand made argan oils that are available in the market and are highly recommended.
The methods used in the extraction are crucial in the production of the oil. The Argan fruits are first harvested and then dried to remove the fleshy pulp of the fruit. The flesh provides great animal feeds. The next stage involves the cracking of the nut to get the argan kernels. This is one of the processes that have not yet been mechanized and thus the old traditional means are still in use.
Kernels used in making cooking oil, or culinary oil are then roasted. After the roasting and the kernels have cooled down, they are the ground using the traditional means for optimum oil extraction. The process takes dozens of hours and 100 kg of Argan fruits produce about one liter of pure argan oil.
Argan geared towards cosmetic use is unroasted. This means that after the almonds have been extracted from the nuts, they are not roasted instead, they are just ground. This is in most cases to avoid the excessive nutty scent that comes from the roasting of the kernels.
After the grinding and the extraction, the oil is left still for a period of about 2 weeks. This assists in settling of any solids at the bottom of the containers. The oil is then purified through filtering depending on the clarity required. Some natural argan oils may contain low amounts of sediments but they do not in any way affect the quality of the oil.
Culinary Argan Oil
Cooking Argan oils are mostly used in salads, couscous, dipping bread among many other uses and have a nutty smell from the roasting of the kernels. The grinding of roasted almond and argan oil with stones produce Amlou, Organic Shampoo UK which is a peanut butter like paste that is used in bread dipping when mixed with honey. The consumption of argan oils has been linked to prevention of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancers.
Argan oils are rich in vitamin E and lower harmful triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood and thus more preferred to regular animal fats.
Cosmetic Argan Oils
Unroasted Argan Oils are used in the treatment of skin related ailments as well as cosmetic products for the hair. It is recommended in the treatment of dryness, skin flaking, juvenile acne and can be used in hair nourishing. The oil can also be used in healing burns as well as fighting rheumatism.
Even though the oil has been in use for many years, it became more popular in other countries the last decade. They have been used in the making of different products aimed at improving the skin and strengthening different hair types. Its high contents in vitamins and antioxidants are the reason why it is used in making conditioner and shampoos that are geared towards repairing damaged hair and skin as a result of the sun, hair care tools, hair treatments and colouring.
Is important to choose hand made Argan Oil which has passed through the traditional methods of extraction using traditional tools. This is because the oils will retain all the essential components that are lost in mechanical processes.