Argan Oil Quality – The Facts

There are many misconceptions about what constitutes high quality Argan Oil. At Ora Naturals we like to think of Argan Oil as similar to wine. In other words there are good quality oils and poor quality oils. That’s also why one might find some companies selling Argan Oil at a lower price and this is almost entirely related to way the oil is produced. Some companies that sell pure Argan Oil are unaware of the differences in production and how this may affect the final quality of the oil. At Ora Naturals we have travelled to Morocco on a number of occasions and prior to launching our business we spent at least 2 years sourcing only the very best co-operatives in Morocco. So here are the facts which may help you to decide what constitutes good quality Argan Oil and poor quality Argan Oil:

1.)  The Argan fruit: The Argan fruit is the green outer layer that surrounds the nut. When growing on the tree the fruit appears yellowy green and looks similar to an olive. This fruit is often eaten by goats that climb the trees. When the goats eat the fruit, the fruit passes through the intestine where the green outer layer is digested leaving just the bare nut. Nature takes place and out comes the nut from the other the end of the goat. It’s the nut that houses the delicate Argan kernels that are either ground down by hand or cold pressed by a machine to produce Argan Oil. When the goats excrete the nuts on to the ground some cooperatives use these nuts in the manufacture of Argan Oil. Using this method will always produce an inferior quality Argan Oil. Just dwell on this thought for a brief moment. The nut has passed all the way through an animal’s intestine. The result: powerful enzymes from the goat’s stomach infuse into the Argan fruit and nut affecting the kernels inside. This results in the production of an Argan Oil that has been chemically altered and is overly pungent. High quality Argan Oil will have a less pungent smell similar to sesame oil or even peanut butter. Ora Naturals only uses regulated co-operatives (hence the blue smocks they wear as seen in our gallery photos) and thus they must adhere to a strict code of Argan Oil manufacture. The women harvest the entire fruit with the outer green casing, therefore it hasn’t been eaten by an animal. Once the green fruit is harvested it dries out and becomes a dark brown leathery colour. There are also added economic benefits as the women working in the cooperatives are paid to remove this outer casing to extract the nut. Cooperatives that use the goat method are essentially using free unpaid workers and thus lessening the economic benefits of their employees.

2.)  The Argan kernels. The Argan kernels look very similar to small almonds. It is from the kernels that the oil is directly produced. There are two main methods for producing the oil. The first and more well-known method is the traditional method of grinding the kernels between small milling stones by hand. This method can often be seen in the souks of southern Morocco, although is also used by some of the smaller cooperatives. This method uses the addition of water to aid the grinding process. Unfortunately the addition of water will increase and enhance the oxidisation process of the Argan Oil and in turn reduce the life span of the oil to just 6 months. Some companies sell Argan Oil that is produced this way and market it as high quality Argan Oil unaware that their oil will only last 6 months before it starts to break down and become rancid and degrade in efficacy. The second method of production is by placing the kernels in a modern and well maintained cold press machine that will crush the kernels at a very specific set temperature for maximum oil extraction. This method does not require the addition of water and will increase the life span of the oil by over 300% meaning it can last up to 2 years.  Ora Naturals Argan Oil is produced using the cold press method.

3.)  The Oil itself: Once the oil is produced using the cold press method, the oil should be filtered immediately to remove any smaller bits of debris from the kernels to produce a clear golden coloured liquid. The cooperatives we use filter the oil 3 times prior to storage. The resultant product is extremely high in essential fatty acids, omegas 3, 6 and 9. Prior to sale of the Argan Oil on to companies around the world, it will be stored in containers where the oil rests similar to wine production. During this resting phase a small percentage of the essential fatty acids crystalize in the oil and form a fine powdery brown sediment at the bottom of the container. Some companies filter off this sediment prior to selling it for aesthetic reasons. However, this strips some of the fatty acids from the oil and thus the goodness in the oil. Leaving the sediment in the oil is the equivalent of selling wholemeal bread with everything left in, and that’s how we sell our Argan Oil. Nothing stripped away and nothing added. Just pure, high quality Argan Oil. In addition to removing the sediment, a small number of companies decide to deodorise their oil and again this will chemically alter the oil reducing its efficacy.

Naturally we want you to buy Ora Naturals Argan Oil, but wherever you decide to buy your oil, it’s best to consider the facts first. To get the maximum out of this incredible oil it’s best to buy the best and we therefore support other Argan Oil companies that also advocate high quality production techniques and ensure maximum economic benefits to the Berber Tribe women that produce the oil.