Most people wonder how this precious oil is extracted from its natural state to the usable oil but wonder no more. The oil that is usually considered as gold oil has a very rigorous method of extraction. One of the factors that make it so valuable is the fact that it is only found in one country in the world; the South Western part of Morocco. There are three ways in which it can be obtained from the Argan plant. These are;
Traditional method of extraction
The traditional method involves various steps. They include the following stages;
The first step is the harvesting stage.
The men in Morocco walked to the Argan forest and collected the fallen Argan fruit. They could also collect them from the goats waste or the substance that goats spit out after they have chewed cuds. The method is made possible due to the fact that the fruits are hard and the goats cannot be able to chew them. The reason for going into all this trouble to obtain the fruit is that they cannot pick them directly from the tree since they could get rotten. After gathering the fruits, they could carry heavy bags full of the raw plants back to the village. Only the lucky ones who had donkeys or mules could use the domestic animals to carry the load for them. The process is still practiced even today and the skills have been passed on from one generation to the next.
The second process involves drying the fruit.
The fruits were dried in the sun for a few weeks. The process of drying the fruits helps to dry the outer green covering.
The task involves crushing the pulp using stones one fruit at a time.
Women then gather to do the painstaking task of removing the dried shell to get the Argan nuts. After the argan nuts have been uncovered, the Argan nuts are then crushed using a specially made pot and a mortar. The substance obtained from the crushing is the seeds, also referred to as the kernels.
The seeds are then roasted under high pressure.
Finally, they are ground to extract the oil either manually, chemically or mechanically.
The manual process involved adding water to the mixture when grinding it. The addition of water has been noted as the major weakness of this process since it lowered the concentration of the Argan oil. Even though oil that has been extracted naturally is of a higher quality than that obtained through other methods, most of it gets wasted in the process. Therefore, the process does not produce the optimum amount of oil from the kernel. It is also not advisable to use oil obtained in this manner as a cosmetic because it can have a negative effect on your skin. The water added during the extraction process provides an environment where harmful bacteria’s thrive and the process is usually unhygienic which means that the oil obtained can be contaminated with germs.
Mechanical process of extraction
The mechanical process of extracting the oil uses an electrical machine to grind the oil out of the kernel. The method is more hygienic as compared to the traditional one due to the use of stainless steel equipments in the industrial processes. The method also yields about 10% more oil than the traditional method. However, this mechanical process uses a high temperature in the pressing stage that ends up destroying the nutritious properties of the oil. The final product has a fatty substance devoid of crucial nutrients which is not useful for the body.
Chemical method of extraction
Lastly, the chemical method is also used in the extraction process. The method applies scientific principals whereby the ground kernel is pulverized and then mixed with a solvent. The resultant oil gets suspended on the solvent. The chemicals are then heated until they vaporize and the Argan oil remains in the container. Oil obtained through this process might get contaminated in the process and it is usually yellow in colour and it is definitely unhealthy. Such oil, just like in the mechanical process, usually has less nutritional value than the manually extracted Argan oil. Companies prefer these methods so as to increase the yield at the expense of the ingredients that are destroyed in the process.
The method of extracting the Argan oil is indeed quite interesting. The secret is doing it as naturally as possible to get the healthiest product out of the kernel.