Essential Oils

What are the Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are the true essence or fragrant extract of the plants. The main components of Essential Oils are terpenes. Terpenes are volatile organic compounds produced by a plant to produce an aroma and to protect it from parasites. Many trees release strongly scented terpenes in warm weather. Each plant species has a unique combination of 100 or more terpenes, which makes the scent of that species-specific. It may be in any part of a plant like flowers, roots, leaves, bark, stem, or seeds.

Uses of Essential Oils

Essential oils are used to create perfumes and add fragrance to creams and cleaning products. They are also used as a flavoring in food and as medicines for common ailments. They were used in past for a wide range of ailments before medicine. They are highly concentrated, just a few drops are enough to get the desired effect. Essential oils are used for aromatherapy to balance, harmonize and promote the health of the body and mind. It may relieve stress or stimulate the body’s energy.

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What is the difference between a fixed oil and essential oil

A fixed oil is a natural oil obtained from plants and animals containing fatty acids, such as olive oil, or canola oil. They are used in cooking as they remain in a liquid state on heating while essential oils vaporize on heating. That is what makes them easy to inhale and effective for some ailments.

How Essential Oils are made?

Essential oil is prepared by distillation, cold pressing, solvent extraction, and hypercritical carbon dioxide extraction methods.

Distillation

Distillation is the process of using steam to break down the plant and capture the compound as they escape in the form of vapors.

Expression

Also known as cold pressing. The method is used for citrus plants, such as lemons, oranges, and bergamot. The expressed liquid is allowed to stand until the essential oils rise to the top, from where it is collected.

Solvent Extraction

Used for delicate flowers like Jasmine. First, a solvent (such as ethanol, hexane, or methanol) is used to draw out the plant’s terpenes, fats, and waxes of the plant. The substance that comes out is called concrete. The concrete is mixed with alcohol to draw out scented molecules. This is the final product called Absolute. It consists of an alcohol-based essential oil extract with about 5-10 parts per million of solvent. Absolute is used for Aromatherapy.

Hypercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction

This method uses pressurized Carbon dioxide. The essential oil produced by this method is ideal for making perfumes. The essential oil extracted by solvent and pressurized carbon dioxide extraction methods is more concentrated than regular essential oil.

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Side Effects of Essential Oils

Many people think that essential oils are natural, so they will not cause any harm. This is not true. Some oils are fatal if swallowed, others are known carcinogens or can cause allergies. The potential side effects of essential oils include:

  • Irritation and burning: Always dilute it with a carrier oil. Apply a small amount to an area of skin first to test for any reaction.
  • Asthma attacks: Some people with asthma may react to it.
  • Headaches: Inhaling essential oils may help to relieve headaches, but too much may cause headaches. Many are toxic and should not be taken by mouth unless advised by some health care person.

Tips for Using Essential Oils

  • Buy pure essential oils. Impure oil does not have the same benefits.
  • They last long. Store them in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight in an airtight glass container.
  • They are highly concentrated, always dilute it with a carrier oil ( in a ratio of about 50 part carrier oil to one part essential oil) before applying it to the skin.
  • Use them only as directed.
  • See the label for safety during pregnancy.

Carrier oil

Mix a few drops of essential oil in a carrier oil for body massage. Carrier oils are refined oils made from vegetables, seeds, nuts, or fruits, for example, Olive oil, Sesame seed oil, Coconut oil, wheat germ oil, Macadamia oil, Jojoba oil, Hazelnut oil, Grape seed oil, Calendula oil, Avocado oil, Aloe Vera oil, argan oil, Evening Promise Oil.

How to use Essential Oils

Few drops can be added to a Humidifier, Diffuser, or Facial steamer. You can inhale it directly from the bottle for an immediate effect or put it on a piece of fabric or cotton ball. You can make your own organic perfumes, and add in Homemade soaps and cleaning products for fragrance. Some essential oils are good insect repellants. They can be applied topically ( mixed with a carrier oil) by massage, hot compresses, cold packs, in a bath, and sometimes directly on the skin.

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Scents categories are

Floral scents

lavender, Jasmine, Rosemary, geranium, ylang ylang, Bergamot, Honeysuckle, Tuberose, Lilly, Musk, gardenia.

Citrus scents

lemon, lime, Sweet orange, Neroli (bitter orange)

Spicy

Clove, cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, dill, Allspice, lemongrass, star anise, ginger, garlic, Thyme, oregano, fennel, fenugreek, Hyssop.

Herbs

Chamomile, Basil, Peppermint, Spearmint, coriander, Clary sage, rosewood.

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Woody

Balsam, fir needle, cedarwood, cypress, pine, spruce, juniper berry. sandalwood, birch, Agarwood, Neem, Citronella, Tea tree oil, Green tea, Eucalyptus, Tarragon, Marjoram, wintergreen, Angelica, yuzu, Amyris.

Earthy

Vetiver, Patchouli

Resins

Frankincense and Myrrh

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