Essential oils, a common ingredient in natural products, are commonly used either by inhalation or by topical application of diluted oils. Because these oils are readily available to the public, many people mistakenly believe that no special knowledge or training is required to use them. Unfortunately, many people make this mistake. Some have read a bit about aromatherapy, or a friend or supplier has told them that certain oils are good for this or that. However, Essential Oils can cause problems if used incorrectly. How much do you know about this mighty plant?
Some have read a little about aromatherapy, or a friend or supplier has told them that wholesale essential oils are good for this or that. However, essential oils can cause problems if used incorrectly. How much do you know about this mighty plant?
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids extracted from plant material (bark, berry, flower, leaf, root, seed or twig) produced in several ways.
The most common method is steam distillation, in which pressurized steam passes through plant material to evaporate the oil. The resulting mixture of oil and steam condenses back to a liquid and the oil is skimmed off.
Plants that are too weak for steam distillation, such as jasmine, orange blossom, and rose, can use solvents to extract their oils. The oils produced in this process are called absolutes and are commonly used in perfumes or diffusers. This is because solvent residues make most of them unsuitable for topical use.
The third method is carbon dioxide extraction. While this oil is technically absolute, the pressurized carbon dioxide used as a solvent leaves no harmful residue and results in a thicker oil with a rounder flavor.
Finally, cold-pressed essential oils are oils extracted by grinding and pressing the peels of fruits.
Most essential oils do not have an expiration date. Citrus oil loses its potency after about six months, but most flower oils last a year or two. Cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, and vetiver, a few things get better with age. Oils that are not used frequently can be refrigerated. It is also a good idea to store it in a small, airtight bottle out of sunlight.
know what you get
Production methods are just one factor that affects the quality and price of these plant extracts. Other factors include the scarcity of the plants, how and where they are grown, the number of plants required to produce the oil, and the manufacturer’s quality standards.
For example, real rose oil is very expensive. This is because it takes 200 pounds (about 60,000) of roses to make one ounce of rose oil. That’s like 30 roses per drop! If you’re paying less than $80 for a 5ml bottle of rose oil, it’s either synthetic or diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba. It’s perfectly acceptable to buy diluted oil as long as you know what you’re getting. Reputable vendors will be upfront about whether or not their product is sold already diluted. Disreputable vendors may sell poor blends (eg cheap rose geranium oil mixed with small amounts of rose oil) and claim to be 100% rose oil.
It is also important to know that different varieties of the same plant may have different uses. For example, high-altitude French lavender is most often used in skin care products, while Bulgarian or English lavender is used in bath products, diffusers, or sleep aids. A variety called spiked lavender has more camphor, which helps with breathing. Lavandin is a hybrid of English lavender and spiked lavender, while “40/42” is a blend of several varieties spread with synthetic lavender oil and is used by many soap makers.
Even the same plant can produce very different oils. Many years ago i bought a brand of ginger oil which was very disappointing. It didn’t really taste like ginger. It wasn’t until years of learning more about essential oils that I realized that I bought oil made from dried ginger root instead of fresh ginger root. How different!
We recommend purchasing essential oils only from reputable distributors that specialize in aromatherapy supplies. Unfortunately, there are companies that rely more on outlandish claims than product quality, and there are companies selling synthetic fragrances under the guise of essential oils. Here are some red flags to watch out for when choosing a product.