INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND FLORIDA
1 AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES COOPERATIVE
IFs. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA EXTENSION SERVICE
THE URBAN GARDENER
I I I III I II
Vol. 6, No. 1
JOJOBA: WHAT IS IT?
Jojoba (pronounced hohoba) is a shrub of the Sonoran Desert that has recently received
widespread attention. Known scientifically as Simmondsia chinensis (Link) Schneider, its
acorn-like seeds contain an oil for which many uses have been suggested. Much "of the
popular attention jojoba has received is due to the possibility that jojoba oil can be
substituted for sperm whale oil.
An important industry based on utilization of jojoba is on the horzion in the
Southwestern U. S., Mexico, and throughout the arid world. Two factors point optimistically
toward a successful jojoba industry in the southwestern U.S.:
1) Extensive stands.of native jojoba occur throughout Southern Arizona, and jojoba may
be successfully cultivated in Arizona and California in numerous suitable locations
with a minimum or irrigation.
2) A wealth of scientific literature and laboratory tests indicate considerable
potential for a variety of jojoba products.
The native habitat of jojoba in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, California, and
Mexico covers 100,000 square miles between latitudes 250 and 31N. There are many separate
populations varying from a few individuals to several hundred per acre, and some extensive
populations with millions of individual plants occur. In the Sonoran Desert this dioecious
(male and female flowers occur on separate plants) evergreen shrub generally occupies
elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 feet. However, in Baja California and some locations
in Sonora it occurs at sea level. Rainfall throughout its range is 5" to 18" annually.
Temperatures range from highs of 1150F to lows of 150F, but seedlings are sensitive to
light frosts of 3 to 4 degrees below freezing. Jojoba is considered an important year-
round forage plant for desert bighorn sheep and desert mule deer. _It is also excellent
browse for game and livestock, and the seeds are utilized by birds and rodents. However,
seed meal is highly toxic to humans and most animals.
Crude, light yellow; refined, clear
Does not become rancid after standing for long periods;
unsaturated and not easily oxidized; not damaged by repeated
hearings to 2850C or by heating for 4 days at 3700C; nonvolatile.
Reacts with sulfur to yield stable product with relatively large
amounts of sulfur (about 25% more than sperm whale oil or lard
oils); darkens only slightly on sulfurization and remains liquid.
Soluble in benzene, petroleum ether, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride,
carbon disulfide, and hexane.
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COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS. STATE OF FLORIDA. IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AND BOARDS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COOPERATING
Mixes with alcohol and acetone.
Amount and properties are not altered by storage over several years;
50% oil content in seed.
Easily hydrogenated to a hard white wax with nickel-copper catyalst
and relatively mild temperatures and pressures. Melting point
65-68cC; hardness (trionic gauge) 90.
Physical and Chemical Properties of Seed Oil
Eicosenoic acid (C20)
Doscosenoic acid (C22)
Flash point (C.O.C.)
Fire point (C.O.C.)
Viscosity S.U. at 1000F, Sec.
Viscosity S.U. at 210F, Sec.
Viscosity Index (Dean and Davis)
Color number (A.S.T.M.)
Corrosion at 2120F, copper strip
Refractive index at 25C
Density at 250C
Specific gravity at 250C
Iodine number (Hanus)
Reichert Meissl number
Idione number of unsaponifiables
Acetyl number of unsaponifiables
Soluble acids (as butyric)
Idione number of t.6tal fatty-acids
Acid number of total fatty acids
92.2, 95.0, 166.7
0.23, 0.32, 0.57
1. Hydrogenated Wax (Solid)
Emulsion- good stability and excellent hardness suggest a variety of applications.
Candles when combined with other waxes burns with a bright, essentially smoke-
less flame; high melting point; may increase burning time of candle.
Textiles sizing for yard goods.
Polishing wax for floors, furniture and automobiles.
Protective coatings on fruit, food preparations, and paper containers.
Cosmetics for lipsticks.
Carnaubu wax as hard as candelilla wax and almost as hard as carnaubu; shod(Td
eventually be price competitive.
2. Oil Extracted Meal
Animal feed supplement potential use if toxin in denatured; yields 20-30%
Fertilizer potential use if high nitrogen content can be utilized.
3. Seed Hulls (Capsules)
Mulch-soil amendment protective ground cover to reduce evaporation, erosion,,
weed growth, or enrich soil which is low in organic matter.
4. Jojoba Shrubs
Animal food jojoba foliage is excellent browse for deer, cattle, sheep, and
Ornamental already used throughout the southwestern U.S. as an ornamental shrub
and has good potential use as ground cover.
5. Liquid Wax
Lubrication requires little or no refining for use with high-speed machinery
or machinery operating at high temperatures and pressures; serves
well as cutting or grinding oil or additive to other lubricants;
may be suitable as a transformer oil or an oil for delicate mech-
Cosmetics present use as a component of hair oil, shampoo, and soap; potential
use in face creams and sunscreen compounds.
Food related cooking oil; low calorie additive for salad oil, vegetable oil,
Pharmaceuticals suitable carrier or coating for some mechanical preparations;
stabilizer of penicillin products; inhibitor to growth of
tubercle bacilli; potential treatment for acne; historical use
as hair restorer.
6. Liquid Wax (Sulfurized)
Lubrication substitute for sperm whale oil.
Factice potential in linoleum manufacture; printing ink composition; use in
varnishes and chewing gum.
7.. Alcohol and Acid Derivatives
Preparation of disinfectants, surfactants, detergents, lubricants, driers,
emulifiers, resins, plasticizers, protective coatings, fibers,
corrosion inhibitors, and bases for creams and ointments.
Reprinted from: Office of Land Studies, University of Arizona, 845 N. Park Ave.,
Tucson, AZ 85719
Dr. Robert J. Black
Urban Horticultural Specialist
The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
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site maintained by the Florida
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