Essential Oil Basics
Essential Oil Concentrations
Eucalyptus – 25 lbs plant matter to make 1 lb essential oil
Rosemary – 50 lbs plant matter to make 1 lb oil
Lavender -200 lbs. plant matter to make 1 lb oil
Rose – over 16,000 lbs of petals to make 1 lb oil
Storing Essential Oils
– Keep the lid tight. Essential oils will evaporate and/or oxidize when exposed to air.
– Essential oils are flammable. Do not use them near an open flame.
Cost of Essential Oils
– how much essence a particular plant produces
– how easily the essence is to extract
– how plentiful the plant is
– weather conditions
– civil unrest
Plant essences (the substance within the plant) are chemically complex structures created by energy obtained from sunlight combined with the chemical elements found in the air, soil and water surrounding the growing area.
Chemistry is the foundation of aromatherapy. Each essential oil is made up of a wide array of chemical constituents that affect the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states of a being. Each inhalation of an essential oil creates an electro-chemical response impacting the brain and other portions of the nervous system, simultaneously small components of the essential oil enter your lungs.
A bath with essential oils can be quite an effective delivery method – studies have shown that penetration of the dermis (skin) is increased 100-fold if essential oils are added to a bath – plus there is the added benefit of the relaxation of the bath itself.
Typical Methods of Extraction
The most common ways of distillation can be completed via water, water and steam or steam alone.
Distillation involves using a still to heat the plant material to a temperature high enough to produce a vapor then cooling that vapor to cause condensation into a liquid form.
– Water-Steam distillation – plant material is mixed with water and subjected to steam
– Steam distillation – plant material placed on grid and pressurized steam blown through it
– Cohobation – the water used in an initial distillation is added back to the still with the plant matter for re-distillation, used to recover water soluble components lost in the first run – used to make Rose otto
– Dry Distillation – plant material distilled, without water or steam, in a vacuum
– Expression – citrus peels are scraped then the essence is collected by centrifugal separation
The disadvantage of this is some of the chemical changes created by steam extraction do not occur and the end product is not the same as the ones that have been researched and used in aromatherapy.
As more research and trials are conducted, this may become an accepted part of aromatherapy.
There are numerous varieties of Lavender, so it is important to know which one you want and what you are getting, the botanical name lets you know you are getting an oil with the benefits you are seeking. The country of origin is important because the location where a plant grows can alter the chemical make-up and the scent quality.
– Essential oils are sensitive to light and should be bottled in amber (brown), cobalt blue, violet (almost black) or green bottles to protect them. Never buy oils sold in clear bottles.
This has a two fold purpose: in case of an accident it limits the amount of oils emitted and it also allows you to count the number of drops when creating a formula.
Never buy essential oils in bottles with a rubber squeeze top (like an eye dropper). Many essential oils cause this rubbery top to disintegrate and contaminate the essential oil.
– Buy your oils from a reputable dealer with whom you can build a relationship.
Therapeutic quality means the essential oil’s chemical constituents fall within certain percentages and will therefore be effective in addressing specific needs.
It is also indicates there are no artificial substances or additives in the product.
Since there is no formal regulation (in the US), anyone can make these claims, so what is a person to do?
I encourage you to communicate with the provider, ask questions and get a feel for their knowledge. You have a right to get what you are seeking.
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