Virgin or Cold Pressed – Which is it?

We know you have heard all about virgin oils and cold pressed oils, but what do these labels really mean?  Let’s start with the similarities.  Both virgin oils and cold pressed oils are obtained by mostly mechanical procedures, as opposed to chemical procedures that may alter the nature of the oils.

Fresh Marula Oil straight from the press.

Examples of mechanical methods of obtaining oil include expelling or pressing.  Upon extracting the oils, they typically incur multiple stages of further purification which can include techniques such as settling, filtering or centrifuging.  The striking difference between these two oil classifications is the application of heat.

While extracting and refining virgin oils, applying heat is the only non-mechanical method that may be used to purify the oils.  Heat might help degrade pesticides in oils being pressed from harvested fruits or vegetables (virgin olive oil being the obvious example), but the result is highly dependent upon the pesticides used.

In contrast, as the name suggests, when extracting cold-pressed oils, the use of heat is forbidden.  Researchers have shown that the use of heat can alter the structure of the oil itself and cause it to lose valuable antioxidants that protect and give nutrients to the skin.  This is what makes cold-pressed oils so sought after in the natural cosmetics industry.

At DLG Naturals BW, a supplier facility of DLG Naturals, Inc. in Botswana, our production of Marula oil is 100% cold pressed.  The abundance of wild-harvested Marula that thrives without the use of pesticides allows us to produce a natural and safe cosmetic oil without the use of heat.  Our cold-pressed Marula oil maintains its characteristic high concentration of oleic fatty acid throughout the entire process –it’s like applying the oil directly to your skin, from the kernel.

10 Days, 36 Tons of Marula

Ten days ago, a middle-aged man from Gabane knocked on DLG BW’s factory door.  He asked for the manager saying he’d heard that “people here buy wild harvest Marula fruit.” Hungara, our manager at DLG BW, smiled and nodded in response to the man’s question.  While the man only had 150 kilograms (about 330 lbs.) of Marula fruit to offer, he had taken a major logistical piece of the supply chain out of the equation.  Typically, DLG BW sent their representative to villages far outside of Gabarone to collect Marula fruit and transport them back to the factory.  This is an important strategic step, however it accumulated expenses from transportation, hotels and unexpected vehicle repairs that can often occur on the unpaved roads of northern Botswana.

Marula Fruit flows into the DLG BW Factory

The very next day, a few more individuals showed up to the factory saying they had wild harvested Marula to sell as well.  Collectively they offered ½ ton of natural Marula.  A few days later, we received 3 tons, a few days after that; 6 tons, and yesterday; 12 tons.  The word has spread throughout the Gabane area and people are bringing more and more Marula by whatever means available to them.


At one point, Hungara looked out at the factory gate to see two young boys pushing a wagon with two large bags of natural Marula.  Hungara spoke with them, learning that they had pushed that wagon 4 kilometers to arrive at the factory.

A Truck-Full of Marula Fruit

Another day, Tris Lahti, one of the owners, looked out the window to find two men pushing a pickup truck filled to the brim with Marula fruit.  They were on their way to our factory when their pickup ran out of gas.  Their solution was to push the pickup to our site, sell the Marula and use that money to refill their truck.  They were thrilled when their compensation far exceeded the cost to fill their tank of gas.

In merely ten days, DLG BW has received over 35 tons of natural, wild harvested Marula from over 50 individuals which pumped over P40,000 (about US$4,000) directly into the local economy.  In a country where the unemployment rate hovers around 25%, this is a significant opportunity that many locals have capitalized on.  Additionally, with the influx of local

Hungara with the Natural, Wild Harvest Marula Fruit

residents approaching us with Marula, this allows us to pass along those logistical savings to the local population, raising their compensation per kilo of Marula. With the Botswana school year beginning soon, and the end of summer in sight, this extra income can be used to pay for school fees, winter coats and gloves or food to feed their family for a couple weeks.  This high response rate from local villagers is promising and helps us all envision how DLG’s processing of Marula will help fulfill our mission of empowerment through commerce.