Prickly Pear Oil Production Process

Prickly Pear Seed Oil Process

Prickly Pear Oil is one of the rarest and most expensive vegetable oils in the world. At Samel Natural, our oil is obtained by first cold pressing of Prickly Pear Seeds. This oil presents very interesting characteristics and has miraculous effects on the skin. Prickly Pear Seed Oil has been used for generations in the Maghreb and around the Mediterranean to moisturize the face, prevent wrinkles and erase aging signs

It takes about 30 kg of seeds which is equivalent to a ton of Prickly Pears to produce a single liter of oil

Samel Natural makes sure to provide its customers with a 100% Pure and Organic Prickly Pear Oil. To do this, a precise and rigorous process must be followed in all of the stages of its production. This process goes through 4 main steps that will be detailed below. So you know exactly how this Elixir is produced? What do you really put on your skin? And above all, why is Prickly Pear Oil so expensive?


1. Picking & Transportation


The process of making Prickly Pear Oil begins with the fruit picking stage. It is very important to pick the fruits at maturity, which is why this harvest is seasonal and takes place between June and September in farms around the Mediterranean and the Maghreb. The fruits are collected by hand in the traditional way with a pair of gloves and a sharp knife ! Indeed, there is no reliable mechanized method to harvest prickly pears: they are so fragile that a simple scratch will result in a rapid rotting of the fruit. The collection of prickly pear is particularly difficult because of the presence of thorns on their bark and the fragility of the fruit. It takes a lot of delicacy and tact to succeed.


Collection of Prickly Pears
Picking of Prickly Pears



Once collected, prickly pear fruits are carefully placed in plastic crates that are sufficiently ventilated to prevent premature spoilage. In general, prickly pear oil extraction facilities are judiciously placed near fields for two reasons: to allow rapid transport and to reduce the carbon footprint.


Handling of Prickly Pears


2. Pulping & Separation of Seeds

Washing Prickly Pears

As soon as they arrive at the extraction plant, the fruit is thoroughly washed with pressurized clean water. This first wash is crucial to get rid of debris, dust and thorns stuck on them. In order to preserve the environment and water resources, the amount of water used for washing is optimized. In addition, water is harvested, treated and reused to irrigate plantations.


This step is also done by hand. The removed bark will then be used as a natural fertilizer.

Seeds Separation 

The pulp recovered from the previous step contains the precious seeds that will be pressed later to extract the Prickly Pear Oil. This pulp is first gently ground to avoid damaging the seeds. The latter are then separated by centrifugation of the puree obtained from grinding. The seed-free pulp is used to produce jams, compotes and other foods made from prickly pear.


Separation of Prickly Pear Seeds
Separation of Prickly Pear Seeds


Washing of the Seeds

The seeds thus separated are in turn deposited and spread on large sieves and cleaned with pressurized water to remove the rest of the pulp and debris. This step is crucial to ensure a perfect purity of the extracted Prickly Pear Seed Oil.

Drying of Prickly Pear Seeds

Last important step before the final treatment of the seeds, drying the seeds aims to rid them of all their moisture. This is important to ensure an ideal purity of Prickly Pear Seed Oil. The seeds are spread out on large trays and deposited in the open air in the sun. This step can take up to 3 days depending on weather conditions.


Air Drying of Prickly Pear Seeds
Air Drying of Prickly Pear Seeds


3. Pressing and Filtration


The pressing of the seeds is the most critical step in the production of Prickly Pear Oil. It is a slow and very delicate process that usually takes 8 to 10 hours to obtain a liter of oil. This is because the oil content of a seed is low, so it is necessary to take the time to properly press it to extract all the oil. In general, to produce 1 liter of Prickly Pear Oil it takes 30 kilograms of seeds: This represents an astronomical quantity of 1 ton of Prickly Pear fruit. This rarity partly justifies the relatively high price of this oil. The other part is due to its miraculous benefits on the skin!

Samel Natural’s Prickly Pear Seed Oil is a virgin oil of first cold pressing of the seeds. This operation consists of using a hydraulic press to crush and press the seeds without heating them at any time. Their temperature should never exceed 50°C (122°F). This parameter is vital to avoid altering the characteristics of the active substances that make this precious oil so successful.


Once the seeds are pressed and the oil extracted, it must be filtered before storage. It will be passed through a thin filter cloth to trap solid particles and leave only the 100% pure oil.


Pressing of Prickly Pear Seeds
Pressing of Prickly Pear Seeds


4. Storage and Packaging


Prickly Pear Seed Oil is extremely delicate and degrades easily if exposed to the elements. To preserve its freshness and purity, Samel Natural oil is quickly transferred to high-quality stainless steel containers in a controlled atmosphere enclosure. It will thus be protected from heat, light and oxidation. During this rest period, various samples are taken to carry out compliance tests and ensure that Samel Natural ‘s customers have a high quality oil.


This is the final step in the production process of Prickly Pear Oil. After rest, the Elixir is packaged in amber glass bottles (opaque) to prevent alteration caused by ultraviolet rays and extend the useful life of the oil and its active ingredients. The vials usually have a maximum capacity of 30ml. As this oil is very fragile, it would not be wise to package it in bottles of larger capacity. It should also be noted that it is not recommended to keep prickly pear oil in plastic containers, as it may become contaminated with the fine particles of the bottle.

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