HOW ARE ESSENTIAL OILS PRODUCED?
There are several dif erent methods for extracting essential oils. Most extraction techniques rely on the fact that most essential oils blend well with other oils and fats, certain solvents, and even alcohol, but they do not mix with water. Over the years, herbalists and essential oils manufacturers have determined which methods work best for each plant, depending on that plant’s unique chemical signature
Hypercritical Carbon Dioxide
One of the newest methods for producing essential oils relies on plant interaction with carbon dioxide. Although producing essential oils this way is prohibitively expensive, the results are delightful. Essential oils produced using the carbon dioxide method smell almost exactly like the plants they were sourced from. Carbon dioxide becomes hypercritical—meaning it is neither a true gas nor a true liquid—at 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Extraction occurs rapidly with this method, and as carbon dioxide is inert, there is no chemical interaction between it and the plant from which the essential oil is being extracted
Most plants from which pure essential oils are obtained stand up well to the steam distillation process. In this simple procedure, freshly harvested plants are suspended above a vat of boiling water, and the steam emerging from the water extracts the oils from the plant. A vessel catches the rising steam, which is pushed through a tube before being cooled. The steam then condenses back into water, and as essential oils do not mix with water, the two substances separate. The essential oil is collected, and in many cases, the remaining water is collected as well, since it retains the fragrant character of the essential oil. This water is referred to as hydrosol and is often used in moisturizers, linen sprays, and simple perfumes.
A very old method for producing essential oils that is rarely used in areas other than France, enfl eurage is an expensive and complicated process. Whole blossoms are laid out on sheets coated with warm vegetable oil that in turn absorbs the oils from the fl owers. As the oils are bled from the blossoms, exhausted fl owers are replaced with fresh ones until all the oil has been infused with fragrance. The essential oil is then separated from the oil.
ALL ESSENTIAL OILS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
There are many factors that determine essential oil quality . For example, plant species, extraction techniques, and even growing conditions, including soil quality, cloud cover, and environmental temperature, can af ect the plants from which essential oils are extracted. There are three characteristics crucial to determining the quality of a particular essential oil: grade , purity, and integrity