High Quality Essential Oils akin to Orange Juice?
Imagine meeting someone who said they didn’t like orange juice because all they ever drank was that repulsive but adequately similar concentrated product from the frozen section of your supermarket, or the so-called not-from-concentrated orange-peel juice commonly touted as pure and premium. Every time i go out for breakfast i ask if they have fresh-squeezed orange juice. When they do i always order it even though it costs double or triple the $1 they charge for frozen concentrate.
OK so what does that have to do with essential oils? I have been using essential oils for some time know and like many things i have noticed a HUGE difference between the lower quality oils you can find at any craft store and the hard-to-find high-end oils that i exclusively use now. I was trying to explain this to my friends and it took me a while to be able to articulate the difference. Finally i said Its like rediscovering real fresh-squeezed orange juice for the first time. Or if you ever tasted so-called ‘fresh-squeezed’ orange juice but it actually tasted more like orange peel juice? Essential oils are a lot like that. Take a beautiful bushel of roses ready to be batched into essential oil. There are a handful of ways to extract the aromatic compounds from the plant
- Solvent Extraction: this process is usually reserved for the perfume industry and does not yield pure oils. Products made from solvent extraction cannot be called essential oils.
- Expression: A quality process sometimes called cold-pressed–like hand squeezed orange juice. Caution to the wind though. First press is the best. Subsequent presses can become bitter from skin stem and peel–like cheap ‘orange peel juice’. This is where essential oils costing over $30/oz start to appear and they are as magical as the first time you ever had real hand-squeezed, first press, vine ripened orange juice.
- Steam Distillation: like Expression the plant material is pressed, but steam is also passed through the materials to gently release aromatic oils from the plant. The steam helps separate the oil from the water–not relevant with orange juice since we want the water portion in our juice but quite popular to gently extract orange (citrus) essential oils from the plant. Some believe you can get better results by using the C02 method which is similar but avoids the high temperature of steam: 212F which is believed to alter the oils from their original state.
- C02 Extraction: The idea here is to use C02 instead of H20. H20 boils at 212F, C02 boils at 100F. At 212F most plant materials become damaged from the heat, change state and deteriorate. At 100F, plant materials are usually unchanged/unharmed. You just need to pressurize the C02 gas to turn i into a liquid so you can rinse out the desired oils. Here’s how we do it: Plant matter and C02 are mixed into a chamber then pressurized until the C02 becomes liquid. As a liquid the CO2 rinses through the natural plant matter, pulling the oils and other substances such as pigment and resin from the plant matter. The CO2 is brought back to natural pressure and as it evaporates the oils and such separate out from the gas. C02 is also colorless, odorless, and can be easily and completely removed without a trace.
- Enfleurage: Some of the finest oils we use in Italian Balm require this ancient method. Highly purified and odorless vegetable or animal fat, usually lard or tallow, is spread out over a frame called a chassis and is allowed to set. Fresh flower petals or fresh whole flowers are layered on top and pressed in. They are allowed to set for a while depending on the flowers until the scents soak completely into the fat. Its then washed with alcohol to separate the botanical extract from the remaining fat, which is then used to make soap. When the alcohol evaporates from this mixture, the “absolute” or “absolute oil” is what is left over.
I don’t expect anyone to go out and spend thousands of dollars on expensive essential oils but i would like everyone in the world to experience the difference. And you now have access to these wonderful products previously reserved for royal courts through my essential oil based lotions, balms and our new sanitizers which feature the same high-end oils used in our original Italian Balm recipe–some costing upwards of $500/oz, and many in the $200/$300 range.