Q&A – What is an Essential Oil?

Bottles of essential oils and flowers

Most of our products are essential oils so you might ask what an essential oil is. In this month’s feature, we will try to answer that question. 

First let’s look at several definitions of an essential oil: 

For an essential oil to be a true essential oil, it must be isolated by physical means only (distillation or expression, also called cold pressing). Some other plants can be macerated and distilled where the plant material is chopped up in warm water to release the oil (i.e. onion, garlic) (Brian Lawrence’s definition) 

Most of these definitions have a similar thread or idea and we can see that essential oils are naturally occurring compounds found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, fruit and other plant parts. Getting essential oils from the plants is typically done with a process called distillation, most commonly distillation by steam or water, where different parts of the plants are used. The distillation or extraction results in a highly concentrated form of the essential oil found in the plant. It typically has the smell or aroma of the plant. 

In this concentrated form, essential oils can be used for flavoring, fragrances, aromatherapy and more. 

Our essential oils are what are commonly called “100% pure” oils because they are single essential oils sourced directly from the plant or product. 

Essential oils can vary greatly in quality and price. Sometimes the plant is rare, sometimes the process is costly. We buy our oils using a careful screening process that includes buying from known and reputable sources and using careful quality control to analysis the oils before and after purchase. 

Although natural and most smell wonderful it is important to understand “essential oil safety“ and why we are regulated by food and fragrance and government industry standards. Essential oils are comprised of naturally occurring chemicals or constituents; this is “essential oil chemistry“. 

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