this makes sense

Essential Oils

Posted in Uncategorized by thismakessense on July 23, 2009

Peppermint Plant

Recently I began noticing that “essential oil” seems to be the new buzz word in organic bath and beauty products. A few months ago I bought a delightful citrus hand sanitizer spray made by the company EO (Essential Oils). It is organic and doesn’t kill the good bacteria living on your hands and comes in an easy to apply spray top. So it already had that going for it when I bought it, but the thing that got me hooked is the scent: it smells like fresh oranges! I didn’t think I cared before I smelled it though, but now I can’t get enough of the scent and tend to spray it more than necessary just to get a good whiff of it. Now that I think of it, I think I must have always had a fondness for citrus smells because as a kid I always loved sniffing those lemon hand wipes they gave you after an El Pollo Loco chicken dinner. Also the Soaring Over California Ride at Disneyland’s California Adventure has a heavenly citrus scent when you “fly” over the orange groves. Those scents didn’t smell artificial, so there is a possibility the could use actual essential oils, but somehow I doubt the hand wipe company and Disney are actually using the real deal.

What is an Essential Oil?

An essential oil is essentially a extract of oil from a plant that carries a distinctive sent or essence of that plant. They are used  to scent things such as perfumes, cosmetics, incense, candles, bath products and are sometimes used to flavor foods or drinks. The most common oils being lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus. Over 700 different kinds of plants contain essential oils, but they usually only contain small amounts, so many times several hundred pounds may needed to produce a single ounce.

List Of Essential Oils

What are the uses/applications of Essential Oils?

Throughout history essential oils have been used medicinally in aromatherapy and topically to treat skin problems. It has even been used as a cancer remedy. More recently essential oils have become more popular due to the mainstream practice of aromatherapy where specific aromas are used to sure or treat various things. Essential oils often are added to massage oils to enhance the experience.

Essential Oil Profiles
Uses In Aromatherapy

How are Essential Oils Extracted?

Generally essential oils are extracted through a distillation process. The raw plant material, either the flowers, leaves, wood bark, roots, seeds and/or peel are placed into a chamber and heated with water creating water vapor that condenses back into liquid in another chamber. The remaining oil is separated from the recondensed water and bottled. The byproduct of recondensed water, known as a hydrosol, contains the essence of the plant and is often sold as another fragrant product such as rose water, lavender water, or orange blossom water. Not all plant hydrosols can be used as some have unpleasant smells.

Most citrus peel oils are cold pressed due to the large quantities of oil present in citrus peels, their availability and low cost to produce. For this reason citrus fruit oils are generally cheaper than most other essential oils. Prior to the advent of distillation process all essential oils were cold pressed.

How can I extract my own Essential Oils?

Essential oils can be quite expensive to buy, but are inexpensive and simple to distill at home. If you are dedicated to self sufficency or simply have an excess of lavender, peppermint or some other raw material you would like to make an oil from you can try to distill or cold press it yourself.

Distilling Instructions


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