I don’t mean to scare you, but your pure Argan oil could be fake…
Or adulterated with cheap vegetable oils, toxic solvents like Hexane and worse.
That’s a big claim, but the Liquid Gold is faked so often scientists have published 5 university studies on the subject in the last decade…
And imitations are far more common than the public realizes.
Yes, the product appears to be readily available; you can find it in most cosmetic stores…
But most of the time, what you’re looking at isn’t 100% Virgin Organic.
In fact, there’s only one country that
grows Argan trees…
And that country has lost over half of its Argan production in the early 20th century.
So although Argan oil is becoming more popular, there’s less of it to go around…
And unethical businesses are turning to illegal, unethical tactics to meet demand.
The question is, Can you know the difference between fake and pure?
How do you protect yourself and avoid spending money?
Recently, I found a simple but little-known way to check Argan oil for purity - called IceSensed Experiment that you can do at home - and decided I had to share it with you.
If you’re thinking about buying Argan oil, I urge you to read this all the way through.
Because you’re about to see an instant test that separates real Argan from the fake stuff.
At this point, you may be wondering - are people really doing all this terrible stuff?
The answer is a resounding “yes”. In fact, just googling “Argan oil adulteration” will return a staggering number of study results, one of them is a special “Electronic Nose and Electronic Tongue” that sniffs out impurities in it.
They even wrote a separate paper about this e-nose e-tongue at Moulay Ismal University!
Why is this happening?
The first reason is growing demand. Almost 5,000 tons were exported by Morocco in 2014…
But that number is expected to rise to 19,600+ tons, by 2022.
That’s a 400%+ increase, as the market size is likely to hit the $1.79 billion mark by 2022. 1
And although farmers and the Moroccan government are working hard to make that level of production a reality… 2
It takes an Argan tree 15+ years to deliver oil-rich kernels.
And with Morocco losing half of its Argan forests in the 20th century, the amount of oil is limited. 3
To fill the gap between Demand and Supply, some unscrupulous manufacturers, suppliers, distributors who dilute Argan oil with cheaper oils, water, and even toxic additives.
That sucks because you don’t want to get a dud when you’re spending as much as $30 per ounce.
And you probably don’t want to end up with petroleum-based solvents like Hexane on your skin or in your diet either.
But that’s exactly what might happen if you buy cheap Argan oil products which often have these chemicals in them.
That’s why in this article, I’ll explain how Argan oil is made; how you can make it in your very own kitchen; and how you can definitively know, once and for all, whether what you’ve got is real or not with a simple DIY test.
Make sure to read through, so you don’t miss anything!
In the old days, argan oil was extracted by hand using stone tools. Today, there are multiple ways to get the wonderful stuff - including a method that doesn’t require any fancy machinery.
This is how people traditionally extracted oil from the tree’s fruit. You can watch a video demonstration at the end of this article - but here’s what you do:
First, you take Argan kernels and grind them up using a blender, knife or any tool that helps you blend the nuts into a powder. The finer, the better.
Then you add a little water - one tablespoon is enough - and start kneading the chopped-up kernels. If you start seeing and feeling oil on your hands - great.
Otherwise, add one more tablespoon of water and keep kneading.
Depending on how dry and oil-rich the kernels you’re working with are, you may need to repeat this process a couple of times - or a dozen.
What’s important is, once you add enough water and apply enough pressure, your kernel mash will start to seep oil. That’s how you know you’re doing it right!
At this point, you can stop adding water and continue to work the paste you’ve got.
This method will allow you to extract around 30% of the oil available, which is very efficient considering how greedy Argan kernels can be with the precious liquid inside - shelf life of 2 months with proper storage conditions before it smells bad.
But if you need a lot of Moroccan oil or want to use it commercially, you’ll save money and get better results by using one of the 2 machine-assisted extraction techniques available.
The first is the expeller pressing method.
An expeller press is a screw-type machine that “squeezes” the liquid out of whatever you put inside.
It does this by crushing the kernels and pressing them against a caged hole, separating the oil you want from the solid waste you don’t need.
The dry “cake” then falls out of the bottom of the machine where it can be easily cleaned away.
With hand-operated machines, a candle is usually held under the press to make sure the oil doesn’t solidify and get stuck in the machine, which can thicken at low temperatures.
(Commercial machines generate more than enough heat and don’t require a candle)
This extraction method is a lot more efficient than doing things by hand. You can count on getting up to 45% of the oil available in the raw material.
One issue with expeller pressing is that it can heat up. It’s not uncommon for temperatures inside the press to reach 99º C.
Some people feel this damages the oil - and prefer to use the third extraction method, called cold pressing…
Cold pressing is similar to expeller pressing. In both cases, you use a machine to compress dry material and press it against a hard metal net, separating the dry cake from the oil you want.
The difference is the temperature pressing environment. Once cold-pressing breaks a certain temperature limit, it becomes expeller pressed. (Temperature limits vary by country).
Other than that, the two methods are exactly the same. One other difference is that, since cold-pressed oil is purer, you get a little less of it - about 5% less than you would from a regular expeller press.
Solvent extraction is the most efficient way to get Argain oil - but it’s also the least “natural” in the eyes of many people.
You start by grinding up seeds - just like you would if you wanted to hand-press them. Difference is, you don’t have to knead anything. Instead, you “wash” the moist cake with a petroleum-based substance that releases the oil.
Afterwards, the distillate is “purged” by heating the oil in a high-pressure, vacuum-sealed chamber.
This process is remarkably efficient, giving you as much as 55% of the oil you can get - but there are some issues, too.
For starters, the oil/solvent mix is heated to 100 C to remove the solvent. This can diminish the quality and shelf life of the resulting oil.
The other problem is, of course, that you're using petroleum products to make a dietary/cosmetic product.
The most popular solvent used with Argon Oil is hexane, which is also used to make stuff like paint and glue. Consuming hexane, and even inhaling it, has side-effects like digestive tract irritation; nausea; dizziness; lung inflammation.
While commercial oil companies will tell you that there’s absolutely no hexane in their products, there’s no way to guarantee this - and microscopic portions of the solvent have been frequently found in mass-produced oils.
I don’t want to sensationalize the dangers of the solvent extraction method. However, many have reported adverse reactions to even trace amounts of the chemical - so watch out, especially if you’ve got allergies or a sensitive body.
Sure, you’re getting maybe 20 or 30% more oil - but unless you’re producing liters of it, is it worth it?
I don’t know about you, but I'm sure you don’t like the sound of “Hexane” in your cosmetics - even if it does get boiled away later.
So how do you know if the oil you’re buying is real - or mixed with chemicals and other nasties?
Read on and find out!
The jury’s out on whether trace amounts of hexane are dangerous or not. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous distributors dilute their Argan oil products with additives that are far worse.
The problem is so common and so dangerous that an electronic nose has been developed to “sniff out” fake Argan products.
That might seem far-fetched, but you can check out the agadir Moulay Ismal University paper on the subject here if you haven’t already.
Fortunately, there are ways to check your Argan oil for toxic substances, allergenic chemicals, heavy metals and other harmful additives without an expensive e-nose.
I listed the common tell-tale signs below; read them and protect yourself from cheap, potentially dangerous knock-offs.
Argan oil is a miracle product if ever there was one - but there are some things it can’t do.
For starters, it can’t keep forever. Storing it in plastic, exposing it to the sun and keeping it in hot places - e.g. near a heating vent - will ruin it quickly.
To avoid the first 2 dangers, any serious company will sell its product in dark glass bottles; typically orange or blue in color. Metals like aluminum and stainless steel work, too.
But if you see “Argan oil” sold in a plastic, clear bottle, don’t buy it - it’s probably fake… And even if it isn’t, it’ll deteriorate quickly (if it hasn’t already). Not what you want, right?
As far as ingredients go, there should only be one - 100% Argan Oil or "Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil". Anything else is not the real deal!
First thing’s first - if the Oil has a sharp, unpleasant smell, it’s most likely spoiled and rancid. You can avoid this by storing your oil in a cool, dark place - and keeping the cap screwed on tight.
The next step is checking if it’s cosmetic from culinary.
The edible variety is made from kernels that have been roasted or toasted first - and it smells rich, delicious and, well, good enough to eat!
This kind of oil will not give you any cosmetic benefits, though, because it’s been treated with heat before being pressed.
So if you want to use Argania Spinosa for cosmetic purposes, look for a light, nutty aroma. Many people compare it to buttery popcorn - and it’s one indicator of the real stuff.
Another sign is a pale color and some sediment at the bottom. When you shake the bottle, the liquid inside should become a little cloudy.
Here are some warning signs that tell you what you’ve got is NOT top genuine argan oil:
-No smell at all. This means your oil has either been deodorized or stored for too long. Either way, all the good stuff is now gone.
-Argan oil that leaves a lasting scent on your skin. This means it contains additives - pure product is almost immediately absorbed, meaning you shouldn’t be able to smell it.
Last rule of thumb: Argan oil should smell much stronger when it’s refrigerated. If this isn’t the case, and it smells exactly the same at room temperature and in the fridge, something’s wrong.
There is some debate as to whether cloudy or clear oil is better. In reality, it can be hard to tell - some cloudiness can be a sign of a high-quality cold press process. It can also be the result of a low-quality filter, or one that's too old.
As a rule of thumb, high-grade argan oil will have at least some sediment and will not be 100% clear when shaken or stirred.
Another sign of a pure, premium oil is a pale yellow, transparent gold color. Bright yellow and gold liquids are almost always a result of adulteration with stuff you don’t want on your skin or in your mouth.
isn’t cheap. On average, 1 fluid ounce will run you 20 U.S. dollars or more; maybe $15/ounce if you buy wholesale bulk.
If you’re paying less than that, you’re getting an imitation at best - or a dangerous substance at worst. Alternatively, the oil might come from an Argan farm where female workers are underpaid, and the trees are treated poorly.
Either way, the very best you’ll get by scrimping on this product is low-grade. If it costs less than $50/100ml, you can count on it being impure.
There’s only one country in the world where the Argan tree grows: Morocco.
Of course, producers of counterfeit oils know this and mislabel their products as being from there - but there are ways to check if they’re telling the truth or not.
Any and all Argan oil exported from Morocco requires a laboratory analysis. If it fails the national quality standards, it is not suitable for export - so look for lab test documents. That’s sign #1.
Another way to make sure you get high-quality, is by ordering directly from Morocco. Any products that don’t pass the stringent quality control won’t even leave the country. You’ll always know you’re getting exactly what you ordered - not an inferior imitation.
Even when you’ve got all the information above, you might want to personally check what you’re buying.
Lucky for you, there’s a very simple experiment that helps you make 100% sure that what you’ve got is pure argan oil.
Use it to identify what you’ve got - and even if a savvy counterfeiter manages to fake their way after a laboratory analysis, you’ll immediately catch them out on their lie.
Just note that this does not apply to argan oil-infused products like shampoos, conditioners, creams, etc… So do not try this with anything other than 100% pure oil. It won’t help!
So without further ado, let’s see how this technique works.
Made in Morocco
No scent at all
Import from Morocco
Looking at the results, which one would you trust in your daily beauty routine? the one brought from the female worker-friendly cooperative (Sample 1). right?
Now, you might say - “I’ve never been around Argan oil. How do I know, for sure, if what I’ve got is 100% Bio?”
What you might want to do is buy some Argan kernels for yourself and use them for oil. This is the cheapest way to do it, and it’ll give you a 100% accurate idea of what authentic Argan feels, smells and tastes like.
2 lbs (1kg) of Argan kernels costs $6-$13 in Morocco, so even when you factor in shipping, you’ll still be saving loads on the store-bought stuff!
To make sure you buy everything you need and do everything in the correct order, here are 2 videos that show you how you can make DIY Argan oil - and immediately test it with the IceSensed method.
That way, you’ll never be in danger of getting fooled by unscrupulous sellers again.
00:00 - how to prepare Argan Seed for pressing.
02:15 - The actual extraction process using an Expeller Press.
04:51 - the filtration process to make sure it contains no impurities.
05:54 - the IceSensed experiment result.
Take an especially close look at what pure argan oil looks like:
1) It has a light color
2) It has some sediment, most of which settles after 12-24 hours
3) It turns into a thick paste after being in the fridge for 24-72 hours
This, plus a noticeable smell, is how you know you’ve got quality Argan oil with no impurities. Try this method for yourself - or, if you don’t have an expeller press, check out the guide below.
It explains how you can replicate all the same steps using just your hands; no machine necessary.
00:00 - preparing Argan kernels for hand-pressing using a blender
00:30 - extraction using a bowl, your hands and a few dollops of water
03:50 - filtration process
06:14 - the IceSensed experiment result.
Now, if your argan oil doesn’t change after being in the fridge (2 Signs: no added thickness, no smell) that can mean one of 3 things:
1. Your Argan oil was Over-Processed, meaning…
-Too much water was used (when hand-pressing).
-Too much heat was used (if using the expeller method or Cold-Pressed).
-Your oil was Deodorized and/or Over-Filtered.
2. Your Argan oil has been extracted using chemical solvents. In this case, it won’t solidify no matter how long you leave it in the fridge.
3. If your Argan oil solidifies in layers or solidifies partially - even after 72 hours - it’s been mixed with a cheaper vegetable oil.
Either way, once you’re done with the test, just keep it at room temperature - it’ll go back to being liquid and having a more neutral smell in minutes.
1. Argan oil is expensive and available in limited amounts.
2. There are four Extraction method: traditional hand-pressing, expeller-pressing, cold-pressing and solvent extraction. The two most common ways are cold-pressing and solvent extraction.
3. You can use the IceSensed experiment to see if your Organic oil is authentic or not.
Unfortunately, this leaves open the question of which commercial brands you can trust.
The answer is that not all Argan Oils are created equal; your best option is always to deal with a Moroccan-based woman’s cooperative, where the focus is on the quality of the end product and workers are treated fairly.
Your second choice is to test out a few different brands using the IceSensed experiment. If you want to do this, buy the smallest amount possible from each company - and remember to buy pure oil, not a product like shampoo or lotion.
The third option is to do some online research - I call it “behind the label research” - and see which companies have the best quality-control practices.
Look for reviews, see what other people are saying about a brand, which can be a great indication of their Argan oil quality.
Stick to the best brand you trust in order to ensure that the oil you get is pure, and make sure you’re getting Fair trade oil.
Now, the best news is that after reading this article, you know exactly how to make pure, natural Argan products at home by processing the kernels yourself.
It's your turn to try the IceSensed Experiment? Share your experiences to help others be aware of overall production processes, spread the word & let your friends know the best of argan oil_Sharing Is Caring :)