How are essential oils made?
Essential oils are powerful extracts that boast a range of benefits! From skincare to mood enhancement, there are many things these oils can be used for - but what exactly are they?
What are Essential Oils?
Essential Oils are compounds extracted from plants; they are used as an alternative medicine in aromatherapy. Essential oils can be used to soothe occasional skin irritations, promote healthy digestion, support good oral health, and create feelings of clear airways.
5 Different Ways Essential Oils Are Made
This is a common way to make essential oils, and all Kokoa essential oils are produced this way. They are extracted from plants through steam distillation. Freshly picked plants or fruit skins are placed over boiling water. The steam rises through the sample pulling the oil from the plant. The steam rises and is then collected where it is cooled and condensed back into water. Water and oil don’t mix, leaving two separate layers of essential oil and water
Expressing draws oils from the plant’s flesh, seeds and skins by pressing. Expression is called a "cold pressed" method of extraction since no heat is needed to extract the essential oil. It is mostly used to extract citrus essential oils. In this process, the oil is forced from the material under high mechanical pressure. This method is usually used with orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit as they have citrus peels making it easier for the oils to be pressed out.
The plant is dissolved in a solvent. The chosen solvent has a low boiling point, and is then evaporated off, sometimes a machine is involved which uses a vacuum force to help pull the solvent away from the essential oil. These oils are known as ‘absolute’. There is a similar process that uses paraffin waxes as the solvent, however they do not evaporate. The remaining paraffins cause the final product to be solid, therefore making it a ‘concrete’. This process can be expensive so is mostly used with costly oils that cannot be distilled such as jasmine, vanilla or rose essential oil.
CO2 is placed in a chamber with the sample. The chamber is put under extreme pressure with a temperature of around 30 degrees. The combination of mildly increased temperature and massively increased pressure, puts the CO2 into a ‘supercritical’ state. Meaning that the CO2 is part liquid and part gas (fog) which allows the aromatic components of the plant to dissolve in the CO2 fog. The CO2 is then returned back to normal pressure meaning it can only exist as a gas. It leaves behind only the extracted aromatic part of the plant, there is literally ZERO residue of the solvent left behind.
This is an older method that is not really used anymore. It is very time consuming, expensive and sometimes animal derived products are used so, probably not the best way to get your essential oil fix. Blossoms are set on sheets of warm fat (can use vegetable fat) that absorb the oil from the flowers. When the essential oil has mixed in with the fat, the old flowers are taken and replaced with fresh ones. This process is repeated a few times until the fat is completely infused with the fragrance. The fat is then separated out with solvents, leaving just the essential oil!