- Essential oils are organic, volatile liquids secreted by small structures in the seeds, leaves, fruits, flowers, resins, and woods of plants.
- The plant from which an essential oil is extracted gives it its name.
- The term "essential" was given to these oils because they were thought to capture a plant's essence, or odor and flavor. They are responsible for giving plants their characteristic scent.
- Essential oils are more potent because of the concentration of therapeutic components accumulated in the oil. They serve as the original plant's defense mechanism.
- An essential oil's specific wellness-enhancing and therapeutic capabilities are determined by the ratio of ingredients in the oil.
- Because fragrance oils are generated artificially and synthetically by chemists, they do not have the same medicinal effects as essential oils.
- Essential oils should be avoided in certain situations, such as when they are undiluted and when a user is pregnant or taking medicine.
- Essential oils should be kept in a cold, dark, and dry environment.
- Essential oil prices are determined by crop and growing conditions, as well as the resources of suppliers and companies, as well as their process and production procedures.
ESSENTIAL OILS' HISTORY
It's impossible to say which civilization was the first to use essential oils because they've been used all over the world for ages, but the first records of essential oils are said to come from ancient India, Persia, and Egypt. Aromatic oils and ointments were also widely traded between Greece and Rome and Eastern countries. They were used in a variety of ways by each civilization, ranging from medicinal treatments to spiritual practices. Incense, perfume, clothes and fabric fresheners, medicine (pills, powders, and suppositories), ointments, scented baths, and aromatherapy massages were among their herbal products. Aromatic oils were regarded in such high respect in many civilizations that they were only used by a restricted group of privileged individuals, such as priests, who believed they could create a union with the gods.
The Arabs were the first to discover plant distillation as a method for extracting essential oils. They were able to replace the fatty oils that were previously employed as extraction solvents with a new solvent made by distilling ethyl alcohol from fermented sugar. During the Middle Ages, distillation knowledge extended throughout Europe, with pharmacies specializing in distilled items.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are organic, concentrated, extremely volatile, hydrophobic liquids found in and secreted by small structures found in the seeds, grasses, roots, barks, stems, leaves, fruits, flowers, resins, zest, and timber of plants. Volatile oils, ethereal oils, and aetherolea are other names for them. Despite the name "oil," they have a watery texture and are less viscous than oil.
Inhaling the perfume of a flower is the same as inhaling the aroma of its essential oil. The term "essential" was given to these oils because they were thought to capture a plant's essence, or odor and flavor. An oil's composition is determined by the plant itself, as well as the botanical family and species to which it belongs. The plant from which an essential oil is extracted gives it its name. Lavender Oil, for example, is the essential oil extracted from the lavender flower.
Plant oils are fragrant, lending plants their distinct fragrance while also supporting self-protection and pollination; oils from a plant's wood, leaves, and roots are thought to help the plant defend itself against parasites and animals, as well as adapt to their sometimes harsh conditions. Because of the concentration of therapeutic chemicals collected in the oil, a pure essential oil is the plant's defense mechanism and is more potent than the herb itself.
As previously said, an essential oil is an aromatic chemical that is volatile in nature, meaning it is a molecule that rapidly changes states at room temperature from solid to liquid to gas. The name "volatile" comes from the quickness with which it changes states. This is a term used in chemistry to describe a substance's ability to evaporate quickly. This is what causes an essential oil's aroma to travel fast through the air and trigger olfactory receptors in the nose. Essential oils are ideal for use in aromatherapy, a holistic practice that promotes a sense of well-being and harmony of body and mind through the power of scent. The volatile aromatic compounds also govern the physiological benefits offered by an oil; this is precisely what makes essential oils ideal for use in aromatherapy.
ESSENTIAL OIL COMPOSITION
Essential oils are made up of a complex mix of ingredients, with a single essential oil including hundreds. The oil's special wellness-enhancing and therapeutic effects are due to the specific ratio of ingredients. Monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, alcohols, phenols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, and oxides are the most prevalent essential oil ingredients. Almost all essential oils are anti-septic, and many also have anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial characteristics due to the health-supporting and cleansing capabilities that many of the constituents share.
Essential oils can range in color from colorless to any hue of the rainbow, and the color of the oil can sometimes indicate its therapeutic properties. Chamomile Oil, for example, is great for aromatherapy massage on a person experiencing "red hot" emotions because the blue indicates the oil's characteristic "cooling and soothing" impact, which counteracts any unpleasant physical and psychological reactions. Patchouli, Orange, and Lemongrass oils are amber or yellow in color, and their bright joyful colors make it easy to figure out what they're excellent for: mood boosters! Younger plants generate more essential oils than older plants, but due to the constant evaporation of the oil's lighter fractions, the latter create oils that are more resinous and darker in color. The color of the finished product is sometimes determined by the extraction procedure, and other times by the color of the plant material. While Chamomile isn't blue, it does contain a substance called Chamazulene, which causes the oil to turn an inky blue color during distillation.
ESSENTIAL OIL EXTRACTION
A single drop of essential oil has the potential to provide significant health benefits. The glands of a plant hold microdroplets of oil. After diffusing through the gland walls, the droplets spread out across the plant's surface and subsequently evaporate, leaving a pleasant perfume in the air.
Plants with the greatest odors are typically found in tropical climates where temperatures are higher, causing plants to create more biogenic volatile organic compounds while also lengthening the growing period during which fragrant chemicals are produced. To make a little amount of essential oil, many pounds of plant material are usually required. In the case of Rose Oil, it takes 65 pounds of rose petals to generate only 15 mL of oil.
Enfleurage, Expression, Steam Distillation, Solvent Extraction, Carbon Dioxide Extraction, Fractional Distillation and Percolation, Phytonic Process, Maceration, Mechanical Pressing, and Distillation are all processes for extracting essential oils.
|Enfleurage||To extract essential oils, delicate plant components such as flowers, roots, and leaves are steeped in fatty oils.|
|Expression||To liberate the fruit's essential oils, a revolving mechanical device with spikes punctures the rind. "Cold Pressing" is another name for this technique. It's designed exclusively for citrus essential oils (Lemon, Bergamot, Orange, etc).|
|Steam Distillation||A current of steam, usually at high pressures and temperatures, is injected into the still containing plant material.|
|Solvent Extraction||The non-volatile components of botanical material, such as waxes and pigments, are separated/removed by filtration when one of the components of botanical material dissolves in a specific liquid (solvent). "Liquid-liquid Extraction" is another name for this process. Enfleurage, Maceration, and Carbon Dioxide Extraction are all included.|
|Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction||CO2 is fed into a chamber containing plant material, where it becomes a "supercritical" liquid. Although it is a gas, it possesses liquid qualities, allowing it to act as a solvent to extract the essential oils from plant matter.|
|Hydro-Diffusion (Hydrofusion) Extraction||This procedure is identical to steam distillation, with the exception that steam enters the chamber from the top rather than the bottom. Because the plant material is placed on top of a grill, steam “percolates” down through it, similar to how coffee travels through a filter. Percolation is another name for this process.|
|Phytonic Process||Non-chlorofluorocarbons (non-CFCs) are used as a solvent in this approach. Phytols are the oils that are created. Because the extraction takes place at or below room temperature, the oil is not damaged by high temperatures. These oils are 100% pure and as near to the qualities of the native plant as possible. "Florasol Extraction" is another name for this process.|
|Maceration||A solvent (Menstruum) is added to cut/ground/crushed plant material and allowed to sit for a length of time. The liquid is strained, and any leftover liquid is squeezed out of the solid residue. The mixture of strained and expressed liquids is next filtered.|
|Oil Soak||A carrier oil is used to absorb plant material. The sediments are filtered after 2 weeks, and the residual infused oil is the finished product.|
|Water Distillation||Plant material is immersed in water that has been heated till it becomes soft. The oil fumes rise and cool in a condensation chamber. The steam turns back into water, but the fumes turn into oil. After that, the oil is separated from the water component, which is referred to as "floral water" (hydrosol).|
Steam or water distillation of a plant's roots, bark, stems, leaves, flowers, or other parts is the most common process for extracting essential oils. This technique uses steam to separate the plant's therapeutic oil-based components from the plant's water-based compounds, resulting in a single, concentrated aromatic oil.
CONTRAINDICATIONS WITH ESSENTIAL OIL
Aromatherapy, when addressed with prudence, often has no negative side effects and can increase physical and emotional well-being. Essential oils, on the other hand, should be avoided in the following situations due to their potency and ability to act as natural medicine: when uninformed about essential oil properties, when undiluted, when pregnant or suspecting pregnancy, while on medication, near open flames, near eyes, when exposed to sunlight or tanning booths, near children and pets, if prone to rashes.
FRAGRANCES VS. ESSENTIAL OILS
Because of their aromatic properties, the terms "essential oil" and "perfume (oil)" are frequently interchanged, yet there are important differences between them. Natural, volatile, fragrant chemicals derived from botanicals are known as essential oils. Fragrance oils are created artificially and synthetically by chemists who replicate the chemical composition of a plant's components; however, they do not have the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils and are thus not used in aromatherapy because the body does not absorb the structures of synthetic molecules in the same way that it absorbs natural molecules. Essential oils and fragrance oils are similar in that they can both be found in cosmetics such as moisturizers, soaps, and, of course, perfumes, as well as odorant goods used around the house such as scented candles, diffusers, and laundry sachets.
Even though essential oils are not intentionally created, the terms "fragrance oil" and "perfume oil" are sometimes used to refer to essential oil blends, which are combinations of numerous essential oils. The benefit of using essential oil blends is that you won't have to spend money on individual oils, but the disadvantage is that the oils in the blend won't be adjusted to your preferences.
WHAT AFFECTS THE QUALITY OF ESSENTIAL OIL?
To enjoy the health advantages of essential oils, it is helpful and advised to purchase them from a trustworthy source that specializes in selling therapeutically active essential oils. Because the goal of an essential oil is aromatherapy, commercial grade oils, which are usually better suited to the perfumery or flavoring sectors, should be avoided. Nothing should be added to an essential oil that is 100 percent pure and natural and ready to use in aromatherapy, since this will undermine its therapeutic characteristics.
Regardless of how pure an oil claims to be, its composition can vary and is determined by the following factors, all of which have an impact on the oil's final quality: botanical scarcity, country of origin, crop year, season, weather, land geography, distillation method and duration, distiller's quality standards, and how much oil the botanic produces.
Although the quality of an oil can be determined by its label, it is crucial to remember that essential oils are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, thus there is no way to verify the accuracy of the statements on the bottle label. The printed Latin name of the botanical from which the oil was extracted is one clue that an essential oil is of good quality. Furthermore, while the possibility that a label claiming to be a "pure" or "100%" essential oil may mislead, if a label asserts this, there is a larger probability that it is of good quality. Oils labeled as "fragrant oil" or "potpourri oil" are synthetic, and while they may smell like essential oils, their effects are not medicinal and may provoke an allergic reaction.
KEY OILS AND THEIR STORAGE
Essential oils are often marketed in small, dark individual glass vials to avoid exposure to light, which would cause them to oxidize and lose their therapeutic effects as well as their scents. It's possible that the oils will evaporate. Amber and cobalt blue are the most popular bottle hues. Oils will cause any color plastic container to deteriorate if it is not made of PET or HDPE.
Because oil oxidizes when exposed to air, the bottles must be tightly sealed with their tops. The caps should only be removed while the oil is being used, and they should be replaced as soon as possible. Screw-on bottle caps are preferred over dropper-and-bulb lids because, while rubber droppers make application easier, the rubber will eventually disintegrate and leak into the oil. Oils should not be stored on readily damaged surfaces, such as paper, plastic, or painted or glossy surfaces, because they can stain.
Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dry environment with a consistent temperature away from direct exposure, as sunshine causes oxidation. Oils can be kept in the refrigerator to avoid exposure to air, direct sunshine, and changing temperatures, with the ideal temperature being between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius (41 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Although the oil may coagulate, this will not affect the oil's quality; after thawing outside the refrigerator and returning to room temperature, the oil should revert to its liquid condition. Oils should not be stored in the freezer since freezing might degrade the quality of the oil. Essential oils should be stored away from heat sources like stovetops and candles because of their flash points, which are the temperatures at which a liquid's flammable vapors mix with air and ignite when exposed to heat.
It is critical to verify the “best before” date on an essential oil to guarantee that it will not create a reaction when used.
ESSENTIAL OIL TYPES AND CONSTITUENT CONCENTRATIONS
The following graph depicts the various essential oil concentrations, as well as a few examples of the many oils that fall into the specified oil type:
|OIL TYPE/MAIN CONSTITUENT||BENEFITS||ESSENTIAL OILS|
|Citrus Oils||These oils are thought to be uplifting and consequently immune system helpful.|
|Monoterpene-rich Oils||These oils are recognized to act as deodorizers in the air.||
|Aldehyde-rich Oils||These oils are said to help fight fungus as well as soothe and cool the skin.||
|Ester-rich Oils||These oils are sedative, meaning they help you rest and unwind.||
|Oxide-rich Oils||These oils are said to be decongestive as well as psychologically energizing.|
|Monoterpenol-rich Oils||These oils have been used to nourish and soothe irritated skin for centuries.|
|Ketone-rich Oils||These oils are thought to be mucolytic and cooling when applied topically.||
|Phenol-rich Oils||Anti-infectious properties are said to exist in these oils.||
|Sesquiterpene-rich Oils||These oils are great for reducing inflammation and pain. They're said to help you relax and concentrate.||
|Sesquiterpenol-rich Oils||Sedative and anti-inflammatory properties are thought to be present in these oils.||
To view our complete list of Essential Oils, click here.
THE VALUE OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oil prices are determined by crop and growing conditions, as well as the resources of both suppliers and companies, as well as their process and production procedures, which reveal their quality and control standards. A customer should be wary of merely purchasing the cheaper oils, as they may not have the same therapeutic properties as more expensive oils. The high prices of one firm could be owing to the meticulous distillation, shipping, and storage of their oils. Non-organic or "conventional" oils are also more expensive than certified organic oils. Fragrance oil prices have been quite consistent throughout time. Although certain essential oils are less expensive than their synthetic counterparts, they are also more volatile. Lemon, Orange, Pine, and several lavender variations are among these oils.