What is jojoba oil

The seeds (nuts) of jojoba that come from the jojoba plant contain up to 60% of their weight in oil, which is best isolated by cold pressing of the seeds.   The golden ‘jojoba oil’ obtained is really not an ‘oil’, but a ‘ liquid wax’.  Its structure is devoid of glycerine, the backbone in the structure of all oils and fats.  Jojoba liquid wax is called an oil only because it is a liquid.

  • Jojoba oil is a clear, golden-colored, unsaturated liquid wax with no scent or greasy feel.  Jojoba oil is chemically a liquid wax, not an oil, i.e. not a liquid fat and not a triglyceride, as all other plant oils. There is no glycerine backbone in jojoba’s chemical structure as in fats and oils.  Jojoba oil gives little or no calories when consumed as it does not have any large amounts of the fatty acids which are normally in the structure of fats and oils.   This liquid wax remains a lubricant in the digestive system and definitely has no cholesterol.  However, the word oil is used because it is simpler to accept due to the fact that it looks like an oil, and the word liquid wax is not as easy to accept for the users and laymen
  • Different than jojoba oil, plant oils and solid fats are triglycerides with a glycerine backbone from which different fatty acid branch out – like a tree.  To emphasize further the differences, jojoba oil  is only called an oil because it is a liquid-like.  Jojoba oil is a straight 42 carbon atom chain unsaturated ester of fatty acids and fatty alcohols, each of which is made up of 20-21 carbon atoms and thus the fatty acids in jojoba oil are not 16-18 carbon atoms of the fatty acids commonly found and known in various oils and fats.

The Major Uses for Jojoba Oil:

Jojoba oil uses may be summed up in three main categories: 

  • Natural cosmetic uses by using it “as-is”, as if it is a liquid cream, a hair oil, or massage oil.
  • Industrial cosmetic uses, by using it as an improver and constituent of shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, creams, soaps, lipstick, etc.
  • As an industrial oil, as an improver of lubrication oils of cars, airplanes and various machines, and also as a surfactant improver of paints, varnishes, plastics, waxes, etc.  In waxing, it can be used “as-is” or mixed with other waxes.

The uses of jojoba oil were initially limited for its use as-is for treatment and beautification of facial complexion and hair and then it was included in the various cosmetic industries.

The jojoba oil which is obtained as a second grade from the remaining by-products of jojoba seeds pressing using chemical extraction by hexane or cyclohexane  solvents of jojoba cake residue (called jifit) is used only for industrial uses, mainly lubricants.  These uses include waxing of materials, and the improvement of car oil as jojoba oil withstands high motor oil temperature.  This is so because of the high boiling point of jojoba oil which is 389o C.  It has a great capacity to prevent oil oxidation and it is effective in preserving car motor oil’s viscosity and that of other motors for a long period which in turn increases the motor life, and its efficiency under the high temperature and pressure uses.  About 50 ml of jojoba oil per liter of the car’s motor oil or transmission oil is generally used to extend the use of car oil to 20,000 kilometers of driving before it has to be changed.Therefore, with the need for huge quantities of jojoba oil for the lubrication industry, especially for cars and airplanes, even if huge land areas in various parts of the world are planted with jojoba, the oil produced from it will not be sufficient to meet all the needs of various industrial uses.

All this in addition to the special and unique utilization of jojoba oil to treatment of skin diseases and the various industrial cosmetic uses as that of shampoos and the many creams for beautification of face and hair and the prevention of facial and neck wrinkles.  Jojoba oil in all of these cosmetic uses is more superior and distinctive over seed plants oil and animal fats and the many synthetic chemical substances which are added to cosmetics for their marketing using costly advertisements.

Jojoba oil use as a cooking oil remains limited because of its high cost and it seems it will remain relatively expensive for some time because the quantities produced worldwide from jojoba trees are very limited.  Its use in food will be elaborated on later in another section.

Why should one use Jojoba Oil, and what are its benefits?

What are the general scientific benefits?

There is a justified trend world-wide to use natural products because of the fear of introducing carcinogenic changes in the human body and on the skin through  synthetic chemicals.  Jojoba seed oil is natural and when produced organically is safe for the human body.  Its major use “as-is” for facial and hair cosmetic products is desired as an effective and good selling point for such products because of the following:

  • Because it penetrates into skin rapidly without leaving any oil traces within only a few seconds as it is a straight unsaturated ester chain of fatty alcohols and fatty acids which is unlike the branched fatty oils.  Also, jojoba oil resembles the oil of the skin known as sebum.  It is so immediate in this rapid penetration that one may think it evaporated, but really it did enter the skin – and what enters the skin is what really gives a true benefit.  Thus, this oil keeps the skin and hair from drying.  It is a sure remedy against diaper rash for babies.
  • Jojoba oil prevents chapping and rash, and prevents wrinkle formation if used as a night cream.
  • For the hair, it keeps it smooth and silky with a slight shine and prevents hair fall-out.
  • For massage, it is soothing and relaxing and helps in the relief of pain.
  • Jojoba oil which is chemically a liquid wax, as mentioned previously, is mostly undigested and because it is edible, it can act as a lubricant to the digestive system without being degraded into calories.  Thus, when used in frying and cooking it is a diet oil.  Only organic, i.e. chemically-free, jojoba oil as that of the natural Palestinian jojoba oil should be used in cooking foods and in salads because it is free of all chemicals and 100% natural.
  • Again, because of its property that it does not boil up to the very high temperature of 389oC and because it has high concentrations of the antioxidant tocopherols of the Vitamin E group, it is used as an improver of the lubrication capacity and quality of motor oils of cars, airplanes, etc., and we have been using it regularly in Palestine at 50 ml per liter of motor oil in cars for this purpose.  A car may run for over 20,000 kilometers without the need for an oil change when jojoba oil is added to the motor oil and the transmission oil.