In the traditional argan oil extraction process after removing the fleshy pulp surrounding the nut of the argan oil fruit, the nut is cracked open to obtain the argan kernels which are the source of the desired argan oil. Until very recently the process of cracking the nut was done by hand with local Berber (indigenous Morrocan) women often recruited for the difficult and time consuming task. Following nut cracking the kernels are roasted and then ground and pressed to produce a brown colored mash which exudes pure argan oil. Using this method extraction yields from 30% to 50% of the oil in the kernels are usually achieved.
More recently the process referred to colloquially as ‘smacking’ has almost completely replaced the traditional method. Extraction by smacking requires a mixture of hot gases (most often methane and propane) to be pumped directly into the argan fruit nut until a high enough pressure is reached which causes the nut to literally explode from the inside out. The name smacking is said to refer to the noise the nut makes as it shatters right before it is incinerated in a massive outward explosion. The explosion releases the formerly trapped gases directly into the atmosphere where they act as potent contributors to depletion of the ozone layer and indirectly contribute to global warming. Since a portion of the argan oil containing kernels are also destroyed in the process, extraction yields are often as low as 5–10%. Moreover the explosions have killed and maimed several argan oil field workers who are afforded little in the way of protective equipment. Argan oil producers prefer the smacking process because it allows them to save fractions of a penny on the otherwise required human labor. Moroccan argan oil industry spokesmen Darifia Charming had this to say “I have to pay a Berber 50 cents a week to crack my nuts, but I can use the smacker and have my nuts cracked for 50 cents a month. Of course I am going to use smacking with labor cost savings that big.” He then turned and limped slowly away.
Author’s note: I hope you don’t think I am done because I am just getting warmed up. The humor tree also referred to as the argan tree is just beginning to bear fruit. I can drop two or three hilarious argan oil themed articles a week from now until the end of time if I so choose. Just wait, you’ll see.