Argan Oil Benefits: The Historical Origins of Moroccan Oil
Last Updated: November 15th, 2018
Argan oil's benefits have been one of the best kept secrets of the northern African desert for centuries. But the rest of the world has only recently discovered the fantastic health and beauty argan oil benefits within the past ten to fifteen years. Part of this can be blamed on the region's geographic isolation, but rapid globalization is increasing Morocco's presence in the world today.
Another reason it has taken everyone so long to discover the fantastic nature of argan oil benefits has to do with the fact that argan oil treatment has always been rare and scarce, even when it was only local to Morocco. This is due to the labor-intensive extraction process and the difficult nature associated with harvesting argan oil.
The Argan Oil Benefits From Ancient Extraction Techniques
Argan oil and Kopi Luwak coffee beans have one important (although possibly unsettling) thing in common: both either have been or currently are harvested from the feces of local animals. Whereas Kopi Luwak is harvested from the excretions of monkeys who eat the fruits of coffee plants, goats were the original catalyst for helping Moroccan women get to the heart of the argan fruit, which contains the seeds from which argan oil treatments are harvested. Unlike Kopi Luwak production, however, goats are not an integral part of the process, nor does the digestive process of the goat's intestines affect the nature of argan oil benefits. Having the goats eat the fruit was just a more convenient way of shucking the nut from the surrounding pulp.
After harvesting the nuts of the argan fruit (whether from feces or removing them from the fruit by hand), Berber women would wash the nuts and crack open the hard shell between two rocks. Keep in mind that this is no easy task -- in order to harvest the seeds and enjoy the argan oil benefits, the women have to crack their way through a shell which is over fifteen times harder than the average hazelnut. And they have to do so in a way that does not damage the seeds too badly, or else they will not be fit for the production of a high-quality argan oil treatment.
Once the seeds are harvested, the traditional method of preparation involves roasting them whole and grinding them into a slightly watery paste. The paste would then be hand-pressed several times in order to extract as much of the pure argan oil treatment as humanly possible. The remaining nutrient-rich paste would often be fed to livestock. This manual process would produce oil that had a shelf life of 3-6 months. After that, the argan oil benefits would not be as potent as they would be using a fresh argan oil treatment.
The Modernization of Argan Oil Treatment Extraction
Despite modern technological advancements, trying to increase the production of argan oil treatments has been challenging. Harvesting the argan nut from the fruit has become easier with the incorporation of technology and no longer specifically requires the use of goats. Pressing the seeds has also been mechanized, and the roasting process has been all but eliminated for cosmetic argan oil treatment products. Roasting the seeds is still a highly desirable part of the process for culinary production, because the nutty flavor which the heat unleashes is considered one of the culinary argan oil benefits.
Cracking the rock-hard outer shell of the argan nut is still one of the biggest challenges of the production process required to unlock the plant's argan oil benefits. This process has yet to be mechanized and many believe that cracking the nuts with a machine in order to produce an argan oil treatment might be impossible. Manual seed extraction is still a labor-intensive process, and may very well continue to be for the foreseeable future. While this will continue to keep prices high for authentic argan oil treatment products, it does ensure that the Berber women who harvest the seeds by hand will continue to enjoy the economic prosperity that the sale of argan oil gives them.
Pressing the seeds mechanically has several advantages to the production process and the overall argan oil benefits. Mechanical pressing eliminates the need to roast the seed kernels if those seeds are being processed for cosmetic use as an argan oil treatment. Additionally, argan paste which is pressed by a machine will yield a higher volume of pure oil per batch and the shelf life is virtually tripled. A mechanically pressed argan oil treatment will stay fresh and users will be able to enjoy its argan oil benefits for 12-18 months. This marriage of traditional and mechanical processing creates a superior argan oil treatment that provides more argan oil benefits, ounce for ounce.