Morocco: Argan Oil

When my co-worker found out that I was traveling to Morocco she asked me to get one thing for her - an argan foot creme that can only be purchased at the Cooperative near Essaouira. So when we got in the van this morning, I asked the driver that the only thing I want to see or visit on this day was the Cooperative, because I had to run an errand for a friend. I even had a photo of the signage of the cooperative on my phone just in case there are other cooperatives nearby.

Fortunately for me, it appeared as if this is the cooperative that everyone goes to. We got there just as one tour bus was leaving.

I thought we would just go straight to the gift shop because, well, we were traveling privately and did not arrange for any tour. However, we were given the tour anyway. I think they give the tour to everyone that comes to visit.

Argan tree can only be found in this region of about 3000 sq mi of Southwest Morocco and Algeria and can grow up to 33 feet with a life span of about 200 years.

I am going to borrow from Wikipedia the Extraction process of argan oil. They say it better than I do.

The fruit of the argan tree is small, and round, oval, or conical. A thick peel covers the fleshy pulp. The pulp surrounds a hard-shelled nut that represents about 25% of the weight of the fresh fruit.

The nut contains one to three oil-rich argan kernels. Extraction yields from 30% to 50% of the oil in the kernels, depending on the extraction method.

Extraction is key to the production process. To extract the kernels, workers first dry argan fruit in the open air and then remove the fleshy pulp. Some producers remove the flesh mechanically without drying the fruit. Moroccans usually use the flesh as animal feed. There is a tradition, in some areas of Morocco, of allowing goats to climb argan trees to feed freely on the fruits. The kernels are then later retrieved from the goat droppings, considerably reducing the labour involved in extraction at the expense of some potential gustatory aversion.[4] In modern practice the peels are removed by hand.

The next stage involves cracking the argan nut to obtain the argan kernels. Attempts to mechanize this process have been unsuccessful, so workers still do it by hand, making it a time-consuming, labour-intensive process. Berber women often engage in this arduous task.

Workers gently roast kernels they will use to make culinary argan oil. After the argan kernels cool, workers grind and press them. The brown-coloured mash expels pure, unfiltered argan oil. Finally, they decant unfiltered argan oil into vessels. The remaining press cake is protein-rich and frequently used as cattle feed.

Cosmetic argan oil is produced almost identically, though the argan kernels are not roasted to avoid an excessively nutty scent.

The decanted argan oil is left to rest about two weeks so that solids suspended in the argan oil settle to the bottom. The clearer argan oil is further filtered, depending on the required clarity and purity. Pure argan oil may contain some sediment.

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I see now how argan oil can be very expensive. The women use traditional methods in the production of argan oil and not only is it labor intensive, but the argan nut itself is not always abundant and can be limited.



  1. Hello, this is an interesting post on the argan oil. Great photos and thanks for sharing. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  2. I have a product for the hair made out of this oil :) Works quite well.

  3. Wow, I learned something because of you. I wonder sometimes how certain things can be so expensive and I know now why Argan oil is.

  4. Interesting process about how oil is extracted from the Argan nut. Now I know why it costs so much although for me it only makes my hair oily so I don't really favor it hehe

  5. Very informative post! I learned something new.

  6. Nice to know about Argan oil. Thanks for the post.

  7. I love getting my education from your posts, Maria. Since we have many Moroccans here in the Netherlands and Moroccan stores right around almost every corner, I have a feeling this argan nut/oil would be easily found here? Might try looking for it.

  8. Interesting information here. Certainly labor intensive. I can see why it is expensive. Happy Tuesday!

  9. Very intriguing post and lovely photos so colorful at times and learned something about Argan oil ~ had never heard of it ~ thanks,

    Happy Week to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  10. Fascinating!
    Thanks for sharing at

  11. Had no idea how the oil was produced! It is fascinating to learn how trees can live up to 200 year. I use the oil on my hair. I am sure it is not the best product though.

  12. I use argan oil for face and hair. Nice shots.


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