Jojoba Oil

Bulletin_of_the_California_Academy_of_Sciences_(1884-1886)_(20447355705)I first came across jojoba when I was looking into tea tree oil, primarily for foot care. Jojoba oil was mentioned as a good carrier oil for tea tree oil. Since then, however, I have heard very good things about the use of jojoba oil as an aftershave and beard oil, among other things.

One of the more perplexing things about jojoba oil is that it is not actually an oil. The distinction between wax and oil is not precise, but rather has to with the nature of lipids. Generally speaking, an oil is liquid at room temperature, whereas a wax is solid. A wax ester, however, results from condensation of a fatty acid and fatty alcohol.


How is Jojoba Oil Made?

Jojoba is a desert shrub which grows natively in California and Arizona. The liquid wax can be extracted mechanically from the seeds using a cold-press oil extractor. It is this wax that is known as jojoba oil.  Because it is a liquid wax, rather than an actual oil, it does not go rancid. In its unrefined state, the oil is a golden liquid color. Refined, the liquid wax is clear and odorless.

Can I Eat It?

Yuck, why would you? Given, however, that this jojoba oil can be used near the mouth and can leave a slippery mess, accidental ingestion of small amounts is certainly possible. To this end, WebMD declares jojoba oil “LIKELY UNSAFE” when taken by mouth, due to erucic acid. Erucic acid is found in rapeseed oils. Studies from the 1970s suggested that there is a link between ingestion of high erucic acid rapeseed oil and fat deposits infiltrating heart walls in animals. More recent research suggests that this damage may be temporary. Regardless, restrictions have been placed on high erucic acid oils used for cooking. The European Union, for example,. has banned mustard oil for cooking. Likewise, the FDA put out the following import alert (#26-04):

“Expressed mustard oil is not permitted for use as a vegetable oil. It may contain 20 to 40% erucic acid, which has been shown to cause nutritional deficiencies and cardiac lesions in test animals…”

Another rapeseed oil is canola oil, very commonly used for cooking. The 1986 trademark for canola oil uses a strain of rapeseed oil and process which results in no more than 2% erucic acid — an amount deemed safe by the FDA.

Jojoba oil contains roughly 14% erucic acid, which is clearly less than what is in mustard oil. I am not suggesting that you should cook with jojoba oil, which would anyway be quite expensive. Other sources have noted that ingestion of jojoba oil has a strong laxative effect. Native Americans of Baja, California apparently used jojoba oil to induce vomiting (among many other uses).

The LD50 in male albino rats is roughly 21.5ml/kg body weight.


There are numerous applications for jojoba oil. So far, I have used the unrefined oil, purchased at Trader Joe’s, in three ways:

Foot care: I applied a combination of tea tree oil and jojoba oil to my feet. This was my first attempt at using jojoba oil and I found it to be quite messy and did not initially see additional benefit over pure tea tree oil. (The mess could be attributed to noob mistakes.)

Beard: I’ve heard good things about jojoba oil as a leave-in beard oil. I am quite happy with Honest Amish Beard Balm and have not yet tried this. I have, however, distributed several drops of the oil in my beard prior to a shower. I left it in for about 30 minutes and my initial impression was quite good. My beard had been feeling dry and itchy and the oil temporarily relieved this and seemed to be good for my beard.

Aftershave: Even with a beard I shave part of my neck and cheeks. My neck in particular can get irritated after shaving. I rubbed several drops of the oil onto my neck and was very pleased with the results. I plan to try this again.

I plan to try the oil out for several other things including leave-in conditioner for my hair, leather care, and even squeaky door hinges. As mentioned, I picked up 4 ounces of the oil at Trader Joe’s. The container is not great and will leak if it is not kept upright. Other than that, the quality of the product seems great. If you do not have a Trader Joe’s near you, jojoba oil is also available online. One product that seems to be well-liked is Desert Essence 100% Pure Jojoba Oil.

Leave me a comment with ways you use jojoba oil. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

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