Learn about Essential Oils
Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds extracted from plants. The oils are referred to as essential because they contain the essence of the plant from which they were extracted. This includes the fragrance of the plant & also the healing properties and other medicinal plant characteristics.
- Steam Distillation
Distillation is the most commonly used method to Extract Essential Oils from plants. In this process, aromatic, volatile compounds are isolated from the plant with the help of steam.
This process of extraction is primarily used for citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, in which the Essential Oil is obtained from tiny pores in the fruit’s peel. The oils extracted through the cold-press process are the most volatile of Essential Oils and are evaporated quickly when exposed to air.
- Solvent Extraction
In this process, the plant material is mixed with chemical solvents, such as hexane, or benzene. The solvent is then evaporated at high temperature, leaving only the most fragrant constituents behind. The essential oils extracted through this process are also known as absolutes.
- CO2 Extraction
CO2 Extraction is the most modern method for essential oil extraction, it has now become possible to extract oils from plant material using CO2 (Carbon Di Oxide). It is the cleanest but an expensive process that produces a superior quality oil. Enfleurage: This is one of the oldest & rarely used method these days, to extract oils from roses and jasmine. A heap of petals would be laid on trays which had been earlier smeared with vegetable fat or tallow. The tray was kept out in the sun for the rose oil to be absorbed into the vegetable fat. This procedure was then repeated again to get more and more oil into the fat.
Essential oils have the capacity to change our physical, mental and emotional state when they are used either topically or aromatically. The human body absorbs the therapeutic components of essential oils via inhalation through the olfactory system of the nose and by absorption through the surface of the skin
When essential oils are inhaled via the nose, the chemical messengers in the nasal cavity sends a direct signal to the brain which stimulates the functions that moderate our minds and bodies.
- Topical Application
When essential oils are applied on the skin, their therapeutic components are absorbed into the bloodstream by the pores and through the hair follicles. Once these components enter the bloodstream, they disperse to the specific organs and systems on which they work.
Air & light are the two major factors that affect the quality of essential oils. Hence, the oils should always be packed in an airtight, dark amber colour glass bottle or Aluminum bottles. It is also recommended that oils should be stored between 5 and 25 degrees Celsius (room temperature) and out of direct sunlight.
Essential Oils can be used in 04 different ways & they are
Massage is one of the most effective ways to use Essential Oils. However essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil before applying topically. The carrier oil here is nothing more than a means of diluting the oil to transport it through the skin.
Inhalation is the direct & quickest way to experience the therapeutic benefits of Essential Oils. Selection of Essential oils should always be based on the advice given by a healthcare consultant.
Adding Essential Oils to a warm, soothing bath can be a relaxing experience and also be of therapeutic importance.
When used in an aroma diffuser, various essential oils have the property to detoxify the air, protect the interiors against pathogens & relieve you from bad odour.
Hot/Cold Compress: Compresses can give quick results when Essential Oils are applied directly to the affected areas where they are needed the most.
Carrier Oil is a term usually used regarding aromatherapy and cosmetic formulations that are made specifically for skin and hair care applications. Carrier oils are also known as base oils or vegetable oils that act as dilutants for essential oils before being used in a topical application. Each Carrier Oil has its own unique therapeutic property and the selection of a Carrier Oil can be made on the basis of the therapeutic benefit being sought by the aromatherapist.
The shelf life of essential oils is influenced by several factors which include the oil type, date of extraction, how it is handled and stored in transit. We always try to list the best-before dates on the COA (Certificate of Analysis) for each essential oil. Approximate shelf life based on essential oil category is listed below:
- 1-2 years: Citrus Oils
- 2-3 years: Most of the essential oils
- 3-4 years: Absolutes/CO2 Extracts
The ultrasonic diffuser does not heat the oils hence essential oil with lighter viscosity such as Jasmine, Lemongrass, Lemon, Citronella, Lavender, Ylang Ylang are appropriate for use. Ultrasonic diffuser units are not designed to be used with thicker & heavier oils hence if you wish to diffuse heavier or more viscous oils then you should use a ceramic oil burner.
COA report is the only way to check the authenticity of essential oils. Hence before buying the oils, you should always check if the seller is providing all the required test report with the oils. The Reports to look for are
- Specific Gravity
- Optical Rotation
- GC/GCMS Report
Some Essential Oils can act as an irritant to the skin, hence should always be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.