What Are Essential Oils?

By Frank Coutinho | May 10, 2018
What do You Need to know about Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that are extracted from plant-based materials such as leaves, roots, seeds, bark, berries, flowers, or twigs. When dealing with essential oils, there is some basic knowledge you should first learn. There are several ways to produce essential oils, the most common method is steam distillation. With this method pressurized steam is passed through plant material, causing oils to evaporate out from the plant material. The resulting mixture of oil and steam is condensed back into a liquid, with the oil then skimmed off. Plants that are too small or fragile for steam distillation (like jasmine, orange blossom, and rose) can have their oils extracted from them by using solvents. The oils that are created in this process are called absolutes and are generally used in perfumes or diffusers because the solvent residue makes most of them unsuitable for topical use. Cold-pressed essential oils are essential oils that have been extracted from fruit rind by grinding and pressing it. Another method you can use to obtain essential oils is through carbon dioxide extraction.


The method of producing the essential oil is just one factor affecting the quality and price of these botanical extracts. Other factors include the rarity of the plant, where the plant was grown, how many plants are needed to produce the oil, how the plants are grown, and the quality standards of the manufacturer. It also important to keep in mind that most essential oils do not have an indefinite shelf life and should be used within a specified period. For example, citrus oils will lose their potency after six months or so, while most floral oils will last a year or two. However, a few-cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, and vetiver become better with age. You can also refrigerate some oils that you do not use often. It is common practice to store essential oils away from the sunlight, in small bottles with less airspace.


When dealing with essential oils, you should also keep in mind synthetic substation. Although we may use aromatherapy to mean the therapeutic use of essential oils, the word is not formally defined or regulated by the US government. As a result, it is perfectly legal to sell products labeled "aromatherapy" that does only contains a synthetic fragrance, and no essential oils. The synthetic fragrance may be described on a label as "aroma oil," "aromatic oil," "fragrance oil," or "perfume oil." These are all blended synthetic aromas that are diluted with mineral oil, propylene glycol, or vegetable oil and may also contain phthalates and other potentially toxic ingredients. Synthetics are much cheaper than essential oils, and their scent is much stronger. When you walk past a candle store and can smell the candles from outside, that is synthetic fragrance. There are several plants that cannot be used to produce essential oils (gardenia, lilac, and lily of the valley). So-called essential oils marketed under these names are always synthetic.


As essential oils are becoming more, and more popular, merchants are delivering a wide variety of essential oil products to meet this growing market demand. You can now find essential oil bath salts, bath bombs, non-toxic cleaners, hand soap, essential oil massage bars and massage lotions, inhalers, diffusers, necklaces, essential oil bracelet, oil candles, ornaments, and decorations, among many others. Essential oil products can be a great gift to give to a loved one when you are dating.


In conclusion, you should do your own personal research on essential oils before you plan on using them or purchasing them. This will allow you to become an informed consumer and make better purchasing decisions. We are also fortunate that essential oils are in high demand, and that merchants now provide a wide variety of essential oil products that have numerous uses and applications.

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