Essential Oil Defined ~ What Exactly IS an Essential Oil?

January 16, 2018

Essential Oil Defined ~ What Exactly IS an Essential Oil?

Essential Oil Adorn & Diffuse

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell & flavor, or "essence," of their source.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils (EO's) are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, & other parts of plants. The type of compounds in an EO determines both the oil’s aroma & the benefits it offers. These essences can be both beautifully & powerfully fragrant. When essences are extracted from plants, they become essential oils.

Volatile Aromatic Compounds (VAC's)

As the word "volatile" may cause concern for some, let's define volatile aromatic compounds. (VAC's.) These compounds are organic molecules that tend to change quickly from a solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are called volatile because they change state quickly. The properties of the VAC's that compose EO's allow them to quickly move through the air & directly interact with the sensors in the nose. When you first open a bottle of EO, you instantly notice the aroma & you can smell it typically even from some distance. These properties make EO's ideal for applications inclusion in aromatherapy-using these compounds from plants to help maintain a healthful mind & body-as well as other applications.

Over 3,000 varieties of VAC's have been identified to date. The nature of an essential oil varies from plant to plant, within botanical families, & from species to species. The delicate ratio of aromatic constituents found in any given EO are what make it unique.

Pure Essential Oils

For an EO to be a pure or true essential oil, it must be isolated by physical means only. The physical methods used are distillation (steam, steam/water and water) or expression (also known as cold pressing. There is one other method of oil isolation specific to a very limited number of plants. This is a maceration/distillation where the plant material is macerated in warm water to release the enzyme-bound EO.

​Even with pure essential oils, the composition can vary depending on :

  • the time of day
  • season
  • geographic location
  • method & duration of distillation
  • year grown
  • & the weather

This makes each step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the EO product. Remember: EO's that are made by processes that modify its chemistry are not considered true essential oils!

EO's can be used for many wellness applications. They can be used as single oils or in oil blends depending on user experience & desired benefit.

Happy Diffusing!

Sheila

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not & these statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Please consult your medical provider before using essential oils.

Resources:

https://naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/what-are-essential-oils/

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/what-is-an-essential-oil

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils#section1

 




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