FROM PLANT TO PRODUCT
The harvesting process of Aloe Ferox is an unique and traditional process which started many generations ago. Aloe ferox plants grow naturally in the veld and in order for sustainability of the plant, the tapper only cut the healthy, lower leaves.
A hole is then dug at a central point and a plastic/canvas sheet is positioned over the hole. The leaves that have been harvested are carried in the arms of the tapper to the hole. The leaves are then placed in a circular formation around the plastic sheet so that the sap from the leaves can run off into the center of the plastic sheet.
After ±6 hours the leaves will have drained all their sap. Each leaf can discharge about 5ml of sap. ±700 leaves are packed around each hole. It is now called a stack. Each stack produces about 3 – 3.5 liters of sap. A tapper can only harvest between 6 – 8 stacks per day, depending on the weather - some days it is impossible to harvest any leaves. Warm winds or conditions that are too cold can cause a thin layer of skin to form over the cut portion of the leaf. This prevents the sap from flowing.
During the extraction process, ±150 liters of sap is poured into a stainless steel drum and then heated to rid the sap from any excess moisture. This process can take approximately 8 hours for every 150 liters of sap. 150 liters of sap can give you 60kg solid product, in other words the sap of 10,000 leaves gives you ±20kg of solid product.
After the heating process has been completed, the crystallized aloe are placed in 25 liter drums. Once it has completely cooled down, the crystals are then either ground into powder, or sold as whole Aloe crystals (solids).
*sap - juice that come out of the leaves
*tapper - the person who harvests the plant