This natural material has a wide range of applications in personal care products.
Nadim A. Shaath, Ph.D. • Alpha Research & Development Ltd. and Shaath & Meadows Consultation, White Plains, NY
JOJOBA OIL is 97% liquid wax and is produced from the seed of the jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis), an evergreen shrub native to southern Arizona, southern California, the Middle
East, Argentina and northwestern Mexico. Simmondsia chinensis
was named jojoba by the O’odham (an indigenous Uto-Aztecan
peoples of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern US), who
treated burns with an antioxidant salve made from a paste of the
Simmondsia chinensis usually grows to a height of 1-2m and
may reach heights of three meters or more under ideal growing
conditions. S. chinensis has a normal life span of at least 100 years
and may live more than 200 years. Pollination is via wind or insects.
The fruit is a green capsule enclosing as many three seeds. When
ripe ( 3-6 months after fertilization) the capsule splits and reveals
the seed, which is brown, wrinkled and about the size of a small
olive (there are usually 300 to 1,000 seeds/lbs). The mature seeds
are hard, oval, dark reddish-brown with a wrinkled surface and
contain 42-58% liquid wax esters.1 Consumption of large quantities of jojoba seed meal results in toxicity in many mammals, and
the indigestible wax is sometimes used as a laxative in humans.2
The native Americans of northern Mexico and the southwest-
ern US have highly regarded jojoba oil for centuries, due to its
valuable qualities, and used it for multiple and varied cosmetic
and medicinal purposes; e.g., hair dressings, body oils and skin
salves. Moreover, these native Americans attributed mystical
powers to jojoba oil, claiming that it could alleviate a host of
ailments and cure cuts, scratches and open sores.
Extraction and Processing
There are several methods for extracting jojoba oil from the seeds.
The most direct involve mechanically pressing the seeds with or
without the application of heat in a process termed expeller-press-ing. The strictly mechanical methods for jojoba oil extraction are
cold-pressing and second-pressing. After mechanical extraction,
jojoba oil is usually screened and then filtered. Subsequently, the
jojoba oil is pasteurized to ensure safety and quality.
1. Expeller-Pressed Jojoba Oil is extracted from jojoba seeds
by passing the seed through mechanical presses known as expellers. These machines mechanically press the liquid from jojoba