MORE ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS
MORE ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils are organic, volatile, liquids that are secreted by tiny structures in a plant’s various parts such as the seeds, leaves, fruits, flowers, resins, and woods.
An essential oil gets its name from the plant from which it is derived.
These oils were given the name “essential,” because they were believed to capture a plant’s essence that is its odor and flavor. They lend plants their distinctive fragrance.
Essential oils act as their original plant’s defense mechanism and are more powerful Due to the concentration of healing compounds collected in the oil.
The specific ratio of the constituents in an essential oil gives it its specific
wellness-enhancing and therapeutic qualities.
Fragrance oils are artificial and synthetically created by chemists, thus they do not contain the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils.
It is best to avoid essential oils under specific circumstances, especially when they are undiluted, and when a user is pregnant or on medication.
To ensure that an essential oil is of the highest quality, check for a “Canada Organic,” United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified,” or “Organic Certified” seal. "This is what you get from rainbow sky."
Essential oils should be stored in cool, dark, dry areas.
Essential oil prices depend on crop and growing conditions, suppliers’ and each company’s resources, and their process and production practices.
HISTORY OF ESSENTIAL OILS AROUND THE WORLD
Due to the worldwide usage of essential oils for centuries, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which culture began using them first, but the first records of essential oils allegedly come from ancient India, Persia, and Egypt. Greece and Rome also engaged in the widespread trade or aromatic oils and ointments with Eastern countries. Each culture had various uses for them ranging from health treatments to spiritual practices. Their herbal preparations included incense, perfume, clothing and fabric fresheners, medicine such as pills, powders, and suppositories, ointments, scented baths, aromatherapy massages. In many cultures, aromatic oils were believed to create a union with the gods and were held in such high regard that they were used only by a select group of privileged people, such as priests.
Arabs were the first to develop the technique of plant distillation to extract essential oils. They were able to replace the fatty oils that were used as solvents for extraction with a new solvent that they created by distilling ethyl alcohol from fermented sugar. During the middle Ages, this knowledge of the distillation technique spread to Europe and its pharmacies specialized in distilled products.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are organic, concentrated, highly volatile, hydrophobic liquids that naturally occur within and are secreted by tiny structures located in a plant’s various parts – the seeds, grasses, roots, barks, stems, leaves, fruits, flowers, resins, zest and wood of plants. They are also referred to as volatile oils, ethereal oils, or aetherolea. Despite the word “oil,” they feel less viscous than oil, having more of a watery texture.
Inhaling the scent of a flower equates to experiencing its essential oil’s aroma. These oils were given the name “essential,” because they were believed to capture a plant’s essence that is its odor and flavor. The nature of an oil depends on the plant itself and on the botanical family and species to which it belongs. An essential oil gets its name from the plant from which it is derived. For example, the essential oil from the Lavender flower would be called Lavender Oil.
The oils contained within the plants are aromatic, lending plants their distinctive fragrance while also promoting their self-protection and pollination; it is likely that oils from a plant’s wood, leaves, and roots help the plant guard itself against attacks from parasites and animals and allow them to adapt to their environments, which are sometimes harsh. A pure essential oil then is the plant’s defense mechanism and is more powerful than the botanical itself due to the concentration of healing compounds collected in the oil.
As already mentioned, an essential oil is an aromatic compound that is volatile in nature, which is to say it is a molecule that rapidly changes states from solid or liquid to a gas at room temperature. The speed with which it changes states is the reason for the name “volatile.” In chemistry, this refers to a substance’s tendency to vaporize readily. This is what quickly transports the aroma of an essential oil through the air, causing it to activate olfactory sensors in the nose. 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, a holistic practice that promotes a sense of well-being and harmony of body and mind through the power of scent.
WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS COMPOSED OF?
Essential oils are comprised of a complex mixture of constituents, a single essential oil sometimes containing hundreds of them. The specific ratio of the constituents gives the oil its specific wellness-enhancing and therapeutic qualities. The most commonly found classes of essential oil constituents include: Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Diterpenes, Alcohols, Phenols, Aldehydes, Ketones, Esters, and Oxides. Due to the health-supporting and cleansing properties that many of the constituents share, almost all essential oils are anti-septic and many also have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities.
The appearance of essential oils ranges from being colorless to being any color of the rainbow, and sometimes the color of the oil points to its therapeutic qualities. For example, being blue in color, Chamomile Oil is useful for aromatherapy massage on a person experiencing “red hot” emotions, as the blue represents its classic “cooling and soothing” effect and counteracts any negative physical and psychological feelings. Oils such as Patchouli, Orange, and Lemongrass are amber or yellow in color and their bright happy colors can easily help a person determine what they are best used for – as mood boosters! Younger plants yield more essential oils than older plants, but the latter produce oils that are more resinous and darker in color due to the continuous evaporation of the oil’s lighter fractions. Sometimes their colors are a result of the extraction method while at other times the color of the plant material affects the color of the final product. While Chamomile is not blue, it contains a component called Chamazulene, which turns the oil an inky blue color during the distillation process.
HOW ESSENTIAL OILS ARE EXTRACTED
A single drop of an essential oil can be potent enough to have powerful health benefits. Microdroplets of oils are stored within a plant’s glands. After these droplets are diffused through the gland walls, they spread out over the plant’s surface and then evaporate, filling the air with a pleasant aroma.
Plants with the strongest scents are usually found in tropical regions where there are higher temperatures, which causes plants to produce more biogenic volatile organic compounds while also extending the growing period throughout which their fragrant compounds are generated. Typically, it takes many pounds of plant material to produce a small amount of essential oil. In the case of Rose Oil, 65 pounds of rose petals are required to make only 15 mL of oil.
The following methods are the ways to extract essential oils: Enfleurage, Expression, Steam Distillation, Solvent Extraction, Carbon Dioxide Extraction, Fractional Distillation and Percolation, Phytonic Process, Maceration, Mechanical Pressing, and Distillation.
Delicate plant parts like flowers, roots, and leaves are soaked in fatty oils to extract their essential oils
A rotating mechanical device with spikes punctures the fruit rind to release its essential oils. This method is also called "Cold Pressing." It is specifically meant for citrus essential oils (Lemon, Bergamot, Orange, etc).
A current of steam is injected into the still containing botanical material, usually at high pressures and temperatures.
One of the components of botanical material dissolves in a particular liquid (solvent) and the non-volatile components, such as waxes and pigments, are separated/removed by filtration. This method is also called "Liquid-liquid Extraction." It emcompasses Enfleurage, Maceration, and Carbon Dioxide Extraction.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction
Pressurized CO2 turns into a “supercritical” liquid that is pumped into a chamber containing plant material. Despite being a gas it has liquid properties, which allows it to act as a solvent that pulls out the plant matter’s essential oils.
Hydro-Diffusion (Hydrofusion) Extraction
This method is similar to steam distillation except that the steam enters through the top of the chamber rather than the bottom. The plant material lies on top of a grill, so the steam “percolates” down through the plant material, much like coffee passes through a filter. This method is also called "Percolation."
This method uses non-chlorofluorocarbons (non-CFCs) as a solvent. The oils produced are called Phytols. The extraction occurs at or below room temperature, which means the oil is not degraded by high temperatures. These oils are pure and as close to the natural plant properties as possible. This method is also called "Florasol Extraction."
A solvent (Menstruum) is added to cut/ground/crushed plant material and the mixture is allowed to stand for a certain period of time. The liquid is strained and the solid residue is pressed for any remaining liquid. Both strained and expressed liquids are mixed then filtered.
Plant material is soaked in a carrier oil. After 2 weeks, the solids are strained the remaining infused oil is the final product.
Plant material is submerged in water that is heated until the plant material becomes soft. The oil vapors rise, enter a condensation chamber, and cool off. Here, the steam becomes water again, but the vapors become the oil. The oil is then separated from the water component, which becomes the “floral water” (hydrosol).
The most popular extraction method for essential oils is steam or water distillation of the roots, bark, stems, leaves, flowers or other parts of a plant. With the aid of steam, this process separates the plant’s healing oil-based compounds from the water-based compounds to produce a single, concentrated aromatic oil.
ESSENTIAL OIL CONTRAINDICATIONS
Generally, when aromatherapy is approached with the proper cautions it does not lead to any adverse side effects and can promote well-being both physically and mentally. On the other hand, due to their powerful potency and their capacity to act as natural medicine, essential oils are best avoided under the following circumstances: when uninformed about essential oil properties, when undiluted, when pregnant or when pregnancy is suspected, while on medication, near open flames, near eyes, when exposed to sunlight or tanning booths, near children and pets, if prone to allergies or sensitivities, when room lacks proper ventilation.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ESSENTIAL OILS AND PERFUMES
The terms “essential oil” and “perfume (oil)” are often used in place of each other due to their aromatic qualities, but there are significant differences between them. Essential oils are natural, volatile, aromatic compounds extracted from botanicals. Fragrance oils are artificial and synthetically created by chemists, who reproduce the chemical composition of a plant’s components; however, they do not contain the same therapeutic benefits as essential oils, and thus they are not used in aromatherapy, as the body does not absorb the structures of the synthetic molecules in the same way it absorbs natural molecules. The similarity between essential oils and fragrance oils is that both types of oils can be found in cosmetics such as moisturizers, soaps, and of course perfumes as well as odorant products used around the house, such as scented candles, diffusers, and sachets for laundry.
Sometimes the term “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” is used to refer to essential oil blends, which are combinations of several essential oils even though essential oils are not artificially made. The advantage of using essential oil blends is that money will not be spent on purchasing individual oils, but the downside is that the oils contained in a blend will not be customized to the individual’s preference.
WHAT AFFECTS ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY?