Essential oils are highly concentrated versions of natural oils in plants. Essential oils give plants their aroma, protect them from harsh environmental conditions as well as insects, and in some cases even play a role in the pollination of plants.
Have you ever squeezed fresh lavender flowers and noticed the scent they left on your hands? Or slice a fresh orange and notice its fresh, juicy aroma? Because basically it's an essential oil!
How are Essential Oils Produced?
Oil purity may change depending on geographic location, refining method, weather and other factors. Extension Refining essential oils is more of a process-only art form, small variances in the amount of plant material, water or temperature can actually change the outcome.
Most pure essential oils are extracted from plants via steam distillation. Freshly picked plants hang above boiling water, and steam draws oil out of the plant. The steam rises, is collected in a vessel, and is pushed along the pipe. Then the vapor is rapidly cooled, causing it to condense back into water. Because water and essential oil don't mix, they separate, and the essential oil is collected.
Hydro distillation st rong>
Delicate flowers like roses and orange blossoms will clump together when put together with steam during the distillation process, so the most effective extraction method in this situation is to immerse the fragile plant material in boiling pure water instead. Water protects the extracted oil from overheating. The viscous liquid cools and the oil and water separate from each other.
Most of the citrus essential oils are produced via colp pressing method. In the thick rind of citrus fruits there are little pockets of essential oil, you may have noticed when you cut into citrus fruits the essential oil squirts out and gives off a lovely aroma. In the process of cold extraction of the skin b The oranges are cut by a machine and the important ones are collected in a sponge.
This method produces a more fragrant aroma. smoother than any kind of distillation method. It uses food grade solvents such as hexane and ethanol to isolate essential oils from plant material. It is most suitable for plant materials that produce low amounts of essential oils, most of which resin, or fine aromatics are unable to withstand the pressure and stress of steam distillation.
After the plant material is treated with a solvent, it produces a waxy aromatic compound called "concrete." When this concrete substance is mixed with alcohol, oil particles are released. The oil in the final stage is then treated for last time to make sure that as much of the solvent as possible has been removed.
Under normal circumstances, carbon dioxide is gas that we breathe continuously. Using special supercritical CO2 extraction equipment, CO2 has fluid-like properties. Acting like a fluid, it can dissolve low molecular weight non-polar materials in a process known as Supercritical Fluid Extract (SCF).
CO2 extraction uses a very low temperature, which keeps all its heat sensitive components intact. During the entire process, oxygen is removed so that all oxidation sensitive components remain intact. The scent profile of CO2 extracts is generally closer to that of fresh plant material and they generally resemble that of have a longer shelf life too.
How do they work?
Essential oils can be absorbed into the body through the skin and nose. When essential oils are absorbed through the skin, they enter the blood vessels carrying healing molecules throughout the body.
Heat, water and covering the treated area increase the absorption rate so application methods like baths and compresses are a great way to increase the absorption of essential oils into the body.
When you inhale essential oils, aromatic molecules travel through two routes. Descend into your lungs and up to the limbic system in the brain. Through the lungs, essential oils get into the bloodstream where they are carried around the body. The limbic system is a primitive part of the brain and deals with memory and emotional responses. This is why certain aromas can generate strong memories and emotions in us and how essential oils can help improve our emotional state.