What is Essential Oil?

Since ancient history, humans have been harnessing the benefits of plants. These wonders of nature helped humans then to navigate their tough environments. The use of essential oils probably started around the 13th century as the earliest records of the various methods of extraction were from that period.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are commonly mistaken as being an actual form of oil due to it’s name. However it is actually a volatile ( under room temperature, it evaporates easily ) and concentrated hydrophobic ( the molecules repel water or in layman terms, it doesn’t mix with water ) liquid. The properties of the various essential oils are from the plants’ chemical compounds found in this liquid. It is important to understand that essential oils are concentrated and hence properties such as the aroma or active ingredients are usually much stronger than the actual plants.

what is essential oil

How Are Essential Oils Made?

These are the common methods to extract essential oils:

  • Expression
    Botanical material is subjected to pressure via cold pressing or mechanical pressing, leading to the extraction of essential oil
  • Distillation
    A distillation tool containing botanical material such as flowers, seed, leaves or fruits is placed over boiling water. When the steam rises and passes through the plant material, the heat results in the evaporation of the volatile compounds. The vapor then moves through a condensation coil and changes into a liquid that is then collected.

How Are Essential Oils Used?

These are the common ways to use essential oils:

  • External Topical Application
    A mixture of essential oil and pure unadulterated carrier oil which acts as a dilution base is created. It is then applied externally on the skin.
  • Diffusing
    This is a process where the essential oil is split into tiny particles that are dispersed into the air for inhalation. A common method will be an ultrasonic diffuser which uses water to create a mist that carries the essential oil particles
  • Steam Inhalation
    A few drops of essential oil is added into a bowl of boiling water. A towel is then used to cover the head over the bowl, allowing the steam which carries the essential oil particles to be breathed in ( Caution! It may be hot )

Are Essential Oils Dangerous?

Considering that both natural and synthetic chemicals do interact with our bodies, essential oils can be dangerous, especially when it is used irresponsibly. The important point here is to make informed purchases so as to ensure that the essential oil you are buying is pure and unadulterated. You also need to be knowledgeable on the proper ways of usage and stay clear of risky behaviors. Commonsense practices such as testing and monitoring for allergic reaction is important. It is crucial that you understand to always seek medical attention when in doubt. Essential oils do not replace professional medical care.

Questionable manufacturers may be irresponsible in their extraction methods and introduce impurities into the solution. They may add other chemicals to enhance the smell in an effort to save on costs. The presence of other chemicals or impurities is a risk as we are not aware of the potential reactions with the human body.

Popularity Of Essential Oils

As research increasingly suggests that the impact of questionable chemicals in products may be detrimental to our well being, many are motivated to seek out natural alternatives instead.

A common example would be the use of lavender in soap or body wash. Reputable brands usually make use of the essential oil of lavender to infuse it’s essence into the product. In fact it is plausible that many people may already be using products that contain essential oils without even realizing it!

The Bottom Line

The world of essential oils can be a great option for you to complement your wholesome living lifestyle. Having the proper knowledge is important and i welcome you to explore our unbiased essential oils guide. Connect with us using the links below or read another article!

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