What are Essential Oils?
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils seem to be everywhere these days. But what exactly is an essential oil? It’s important to know the difference between an essential oil and other types of plant extracts so that you get the best benefits.
All plants have oils inside of them. These oils play a role in the life cycle of the plant from attracting pollinating insects to defending the plant from predators, microbes to securing its place in the environment.
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils extracted from plants. In order to create this highly concentrated version, a process called distillation is used. All parts of a plant from roots to flowers can contain the oils. Distillation uses steam to extract the oils and separate them into a more highly concentrated form.
Some essential oils are extracted using mechanical means and are pressed out of the plant. This is particularly true for essential oils derived from citrus fruits. In still other cases chemicals are used to extract the oils.
Just as essential oils work to protect and nurture plants, they can be put to use to help people. They can be used as medicine to relieve pain, reduce stress, help nausea and other digestive problems, and improve our immune systems.
It’s important that you look for true essential oils if you want to use them therapeutically. Essential oils are all natural and shouldn’t be confused with perfume oils that are synthetically developed in a lab. Perfume oils don’t have any therapeutic value.
You can purchase essential oils as individual, pure products. You can also buy them in blends and/or added to carrier oils. Purchasing them individually gives you the most potent form. However, buying blended versions can also be beneficial.
A blend will often contain oils that work together in harmony for a specific need. For example, a headache blend that contains several essential oils known for headache relief. You can also purchase individual oils and create your own blends.
Oils can be applied directly to the skin in some cases. Those that are too strong for skin on their own can be mixed with oils such as coconut or grapeseed oils. Additionally you can diffuse essential oils to use for aromatherapy.
Currently there is no industry standard for certifying the purity of essential oils, so you’ll need to look for oils from reputable companies that guarantee quality. Look for a 100% pure essential oil that doesn’t contain fillers or added chemicals.
You’ll also find that the price of essential oils can be widely variable. The higher the quality the higher you can expect the price. Additionally there are some essential oils from plants that cost more and therefore have a higher price.
Essential oils typically come in glass vials that don’t react with the oils to contaminate them. You’ll also find that they are stored in dark or amber glass which protects them from light.
When you purchase essential oils you should store them at room temperature in their original container. If you create blends or lotions, make sure you store them in dark glass to preserve them properly.