What You Need to Know About Essential Oils
A common ingredient in natural products, essential oils are used commonly through inhalation or by topical application of diluted oil. Because these oils are so readily available to the public, many people incorrectly assume that no particular knowledge or training is needed to use them. Unfortunately, there are many who make this mistake. Some have read a little about aromatherapy, or a friend or supplier has told them a particular oil is good for this or that. But essential oils can cause problems if used incorrectly. How much do you really know about these powerful botanicals?
Some have read a little about aromatherapy, or a friend or supplier has told them a particular oil is good for this or that. But essential oils can cause problems if used incorrectly. How much do you really know about these powerful botanicals?Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids extracted from plant material-bark, berries, flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, or twigs-that are produced in several different ways.The most common is steam distillation, in which pressurized steam is passed through plant material, causing oils to evaporate out. The resulting mixture of oil and steam is condensed back into a liquid, and the oil is skimmed off Stiiizy .
Plants that are too fragile for steam distillation, such as jasmine, orange blossom, and rose, can have their oils extracted using solvents. Oils created by this process are called absolutes and are generally used in perfumes or diffusers because the solvent residue makes most of them unsuitable for topical use.
Most essential oils do not have an indefinite shelf life: citrus oils will lose their efficacy after about six months, while most floral oils will last a year or maybe two. A few-cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, and vetiver-become better with age. You can refrigerate oils that you do not use often. It is also a good idea to store them away from sunlight, in small bottles with less air space.
Genuine rose oil, for example, is extremely expensive. This is simply because it takes 200 pounds of roses (approximately 60,000 flowers) to make 1 ounce of rose oil. That equals 30 roses for a single drop! If you are paying less than $80 for a 5-milliliter bottle of rose oil, it is either synthetic or it has been diluted with a carrier oil such as jojoba. Purchasing diluted oil is perfectly acceptable as long as you know what you are getting. Reputable suppliers will be up front about whether their products are sold already diluted. Less reputable suppliers may be selling an adulterated blend (for example, a small amount of rose oil mixed with cheaper rose geranium oil) and claiming it is 100 percent rose oil.
It's also important to know that different varieties of the same plant can 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 as a sleep aid. The variety called spike lavender is higher in camphor, which brings respiratory benefits. Lavandin is a hybrid of English lavender and spike lavender, and "40/42" is a blend of several varieties that is stretched with synthetic lavender oil and used by many soapmakers.