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What are Essential Oils

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         What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils can play a role in your life through many applications. Essential oils are the volatile, aromatic, non-water soluble liquids obtained by steam or hydrodistillation of botanicals. Most essential oils are primarily composed of terpenes and their oxygenated derivatives.  Different parts of the plants can be used to obtain essential oils, including the flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, stems, bark, wood, etc.

Certain cold-pressed oils, such as the oils from various citrus peels, are also considered to be essential oils for traditional reasons but the citrus oils are the only non-distilled oils considered to be essential oils.  These are not to be confused with cold-pressed fixed or carrier oils such as olive, grapeseed, coconut etc. which are non-volatile oils composed mainly of fatty acid triglycerides and should never be called essential oils.

Other aromatic, plant-derived oils, which technically aren’t essential oils because they are solvent extracted, include absolutes (hexane followed by ethanol extraction), CO2’s (liquid carbon dioxide used as the solvent) and Phytols or Florosols (fluorocarbon solvent).  Its very important to understand the fundamental difference between a solvent extraction process and a distillation process, they are not the same thing.   This is why one should absolutely NEVER say that essential oils are “extracted by steam distillation” as this is a nonsensical statement.

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