Aromatherapy Essential Oil has earned a very strong reputation as important ingredients in highly prized perfumes and cosmetics. Their aromatic therapeutic products have brought about a revolution in the general health and well-being of the human beings through natural remedies and enhancers.
What is an essential oil?
Essential oil is a volatile liquid aromatic compound, extracted from plant cells. The cells are located in specific parts of the plants such as flowers, seeds, roots, leaves, wood, bark, or peel.
For example in Sandalwood, the aromatic cells are in the bark, in rose, they are in the petals.
Every part of the plant stores the essence and/or produces it. There is no part of the plant that does not produce or store the essence. Sometimes the same plant can hold different essences. The perfect example of this phenomenon is the orange tree. Orange essential oil is derived from the fruit, petitgrain is extracted from the leaves, and Neroli from the blossom. They all offer very different characteristics and healing properties. Not all Oils are Created Equal.
The quality of an aromatherapy essential oil is determined by the quality and value of its chemical composition, which is influenced by a number of factors:
- From which part of the plant the oil has been extracted. The type of soil in which the plant is grown, the weather, the climate and the altitude
- Botanical species (there are hundreds of sage, lavender, mint, etc.)
- The quality of extraction or the skills of the essential oil distillers. The right temperature and pressure is the key for obtaining a valuable essential oil
Pure aromatherapy essential oils are most commonly extracted from plants through the process of steam distillation. This is a highly regarded method because there is no contact with any contaminants. It thus gives a perfect opportunity for oil extraction in the purest form to be used for therapeutic purposes.
The process works like this: The plant is first placed into the vessel. Next steam is added and passed through the plant. The heat from the steam helps to open the pockets of the plant that contain the plant's aromatic molecules or oils. Once open, the plant releases these aromatic molecules and in this state and the fragrant molecules rise along with the steam.
The vapors carrying these molecules travel within a closed system towards the cooling device. Cold water is used to cool the vapors. As they cool, they condense and transform into a liquid state. The liquid is collected in a container and as with any type of oil/water mixture, it separates. The essential oils float towards the top while the water settles below. The aromatic water is called "hydrosol," or floral water.
This form of expression extraction is mainly used to extract essential oils from the citrus family. Mechanical pressure is used to force the oils out. The oils are extracted in juice form and contain water, but this water will evaporate, leaving just the essential oils. There is however a downside of using this extraction method as the cold pressed oils gets spoiled more quickly than those extracted using other methods. That's why, to avoid wastage, it's important to purchase these essential oils in small quantities.
Some plant material cannot tolerate the high temperature extraction procedures such as steam distillation. High heat damages these plants and once damaged, their essential oils are also damaged. Then they cannot be extracted.
Solvent extraction is the method used for these plants. Some of these plants are Jasmine, Rose, Neroli (orange blossom), Tuberose, and even Oak Moss.
Solvents such as ether, ethanol, methanol, hexane, alcohol and petroleum are used. The problem with using solvents to extract essential oils is that most of the time, residual solvents or impurities remain in the end product. Because they're impure, those true to aromatherapy refuse to use them.
The process works like this: Plant material is first washed in a bath of hydrocarbon solvents. This process dissolves the necessary plant materials including the aromatic molecules, waxy matter and pigment. The dissolved matter mixes in with the solvent. The solvent mixture is then filtered and distilled using low pressure. After distillation and further processing, either a resin or a concentrated concrete remain. Additional processing using alcohol helps extract the essential oils. Final product is called absolute.
With solvent extraction, residual solvents remain and their presence can cause problems if used by individuals with allergies or sensitive skin. That is a reason why essential oils extracted using solvents are used in the manufacturing of perfumes and fragrances, not in aromatherapy or skin care products.
It takes 50 pounds of eucalyptus, 150 pounds of lavender, 500 pounds of rosemary, and 1,000 pounds of jasmine and over 2,000 pounds of rose to make a single pound of essential oil! The price of each essential oil is directly related to the amount of plant material needed for distillation.
Extraction methods used in the making of Aromatherapy Essential Oil:
Essential Oils: Steam, water or dry distillation. This process isolates the volatile and water-insoluble parts of the plant. For therapeutic aromatic use distillation is the preferred process in extracting oil from plants that have a high-content of oil in them.
Concretes: Extraction by hydrocarbon-type solvents. Solid concretes normally contain 50 percent wax and 50 percent volatile oil. Liquid concretes normally contain 20 percent wax and 80 percent essential oil.
Resinoids: Extraction with a hydrocarbon solvent (petroleum ether or hexeme). Resinoids are prepared from dead organic matter. Resinoids are used in perfumery to prolong the fragrance effect.
Absolutes:Second process of solvent extraction from the concrete. Subjected to repeated treatment with alcohol resulting in highly concentrated viscous liquids. A trace of ethyl alcohol may remain in the final absolute making it unsuitable to be used as essential oils for therapeutic use. Because the amount of remaining solvent is minimal, absolutes can be used in true aromatherapy with care, caution and sound knowledge. Absolutes are more concentrated than essential oils; so small quantities can go a long way.
Pomades: True pomades are produced using a process known as enfleurage, which is seldom done today. Freshly cut flowers are laid upon a layer of fat (chassis). The final step would be an alcohol extraction of the fragrance-saturated fat to produce the pure absolute or perfume.
Resource: The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
Noting the aromaAs the art of natural perfumery developed, aromas were categorized as notes which related to their smells and rates of evaporation. Each aroma was tagged to be either of Top, Middle or Base Note quality.
Aromatherapy Essential Oil classified as Top Notes evaporate rapidly, sometimes within 20 minutes.
Their aromas are usually sharp, fruity and vibrant and help to motivate, stimulate, awaken the body and create a greater sense of concentration. Top Note Essential Oils affect the body physically by assisting in the cleansing, detoxifying and stimulation of the body systems.
Some examples are: bergamot, lemon, orange, peppermint, chamomile, lime, lemongrass, marjoram, bay and neroli.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils classified as Middle Notes evaporate at a lesser rate, usually over 1 hour.
Their aromas can be described as floral, herbaceous or evergreen and are considered more rounded and balanced in odor. They are often referred to as the ‘heart’ notes helping to anchor the active ‘Top’ Notes. Middle Notes bring balance and equilibrium to the body and the senses. Middle Note Essential Oils are used to regulate the body where over activity or under activity is evident. They are often antiseptic and anti-inflammatory in their nature.
Some examples are: rosewood, lavender, rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, clary sage, jasmine, ginger, hyacinth, pine and thyme.
Aromatherapy Essential Oils classified as Base Notes evaporate much more slowly over several hours.
They have the aromatic profiles of being earthy, sweet, woody or richly balsamic. Deeply relaxing and pacifying, they deliver a sense of peace and tranquility. Base note Essential Oils are used to assist the body when hyper reactive symptoms are present. They can also be deeply sedative in their actions and are most useful when a soothing and calming effect is needed.
Some examples are patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, clove, cedar wood, vanilla, and nutmeg.
Most Aromatherapy formulations utilize the benefits of all three notes in order to achieve a very ‘balanced’ blend. However, it is quite acceptable to make up blends using only one or two of the notes. The combination that you use will often depend on the purpose of the blend you are creating and what its desired effects will be.
What's Next?Safety Guide when using aromatherapy - Please remember to read and follow all safety guidelines before using aromatherapy essential oils.
Tips on buy aromatherapy oils - Aromatherapy products make terrific gifts for friends, family members. Buy Aromatherapy products offers a unique opportunity to share the therapeutic value of essential oil.
Storage for essential oils - It is important to store each aromatherapy essential oil properly to preserve it. Particularly important is the bottle in which it is kept..
Profiles of essential oils - Each aromatherapy essential oil has its own unique scent and properties. They offer a variety of naturally occurring physical and mental benefits.
Essential oils Blends Recipes - Hints, tips, aromatherapy essential oils recipes and ideas for using essential oils.
The difference between essential oils and absolute - Information about absolutes and essential oils, the difference between absolutes and essential oils. Some absolutes that is used in aromatherapy.
How does aromatherapy essential oil works? - Find out the information about how aromatherapy essential oil can restore our body and spirit.
Antiviral Essential Oils - Antiviral essential oils are most used today for preventing a lot of sickness.
Make perfume with Essential Oils - Homemade perfume recipes using aromatherapy essential oils can end up costing you a pretty penny if you never done it before and don’t know what you’re doing. This page will guide you through the process of make perfume with essential oils.
Aphrodisiacs Essential Oils - Set your love life on fire! Turn up the action with these Aphrodisiacs Essential oils. Aromatherapy Aphrodisiacs is one of the way to bring love to your home.
Homemade Essential Oils. - Making homemade essential oils is very enjoyable. If you have a flower or herb garden at your home, you can easily make your own essential oils.
Cooking with Essential Oils. - Spicy up your daily life with using cooking essential oils. This page will review about the exciting and innovative art of combining essential oils with food. Are these essential oils for cooking safe
What makes an essential oils therapeutic grade? - People always confuse about these things. What is essential oil? Is Organic oils always has therapeutic effect? What is Therapeutic? And how do we know that the oils we buy is a therapeutic grade?
Mixing your own aromatherapy oils - It’s time to have some fun creating your own blends. Get tips for mixing your own aromatherapy oils. Do this in a right way and you can enjoy your own self created aromatherapy oils around you!
Aromatherapy chart - A handy tool for everyone. - Small in size but packed with useful information for mixing your own aromatherapy oils.
Medical Benefits Aromatherapy - Questioned about medical benefits aromatherapy? Have doubt about it? Let see what the expert explains the medical benefits of aromatherapy with scientific evidence.
Antibacterial Essential Oils - List of antibacterial essential oils and how to use them in our daily life. Research shown that anti bacterial essential oils ability of fighting germs and virus are greater than penicillin!
Essential Oils Distiller - If you're looking to make a homemade essential oils then you will need essential oil distillers to do the job. Find out how.
Get some list of