Archive for the ‘Essential Oil’ Category

What is an Essential Oil?

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

An essential oil is not the same as the traditional oil you may be familiar with. An essential oil is a concentrated essence of plant material and can be extremely useful for medicinal purposes. Read on to discover exactly what an essential oil is and how it can be used for your benefit.

An Essential Oil is Not an Oil at All

An essential oil is a volatile substance that occurs naturally in plants. Essential oils are not greasy or heavy. In fact, they are very light and evaporate easily. This is not characteristic of traditional oils. An essential oil is the distilled product of aromatic plants. These oils are what give plants such their distinctive scents.

The Difference between Fragrance Oil and Essential Oil

Fragrance oil is often mistaken for essential oil but this is far from the truth. If you are working with essential oil, it is imperative that you don’t confuse the two. Synthetic oil created in a laboratory to smell like a plant or flower is not the same as essential oil. If you wanted to use essential oil medicinally or in bath or beauty products, you cannot substitute fragrance oils with success.

Fragrance oils are best used in candle making, incense, etc. Any time you will be applying the oil to your body in any way, essential oil is a must. Make sure you pay attention to the oil you are purchasing. Does it specify that it is 100% true essential oil? If not, you might want to look elsewhere.

True Essential Oil

True essential oil, produced from real plant material, is from fifty to one hundred times more potent than the plants they are made from. I have worked extensively with essential oil for years and I can instantly tell the difference between synthetic oil and essential oil. True essential oil has an earthy quality that synthetic oils lack. If you examine the scent of a true essential oil next to a fragrance or essence oil, you’ll see (and smell) the difference for yourself.

A good way to tell if you have a high quality true essential oil is to put a drop or two on your finger. Then, rub your finger and thumb together quickly. A true essential oil will make a squeaky sound and will evaporate very quickly. If the oil feels greasy or sticky, you probably aren’t working with a true essential oil. Practice makes perfect when it comes to recognizing essential oil knock-offs. The more you work with them, the easier it will become to spot the synthetics.

The Price of Essential Oil

Another way to tell if you have a true essential oil is to judge by price. Essential oil is sold in milliliter amounts and can vary in price. The more common essential oils such as lavender and orange, will sell for a price of fewer than ten dollars. But, essential oil of rose or yarrow can sell for more than $100 dollars per two milliliter bottle. If you find a bottle of oil claiming to be true rose essential oil, or rose absolute oil, and it’s selling for twenty dollars, you can be sure this isn’t a true essential oil.

The reason for the high price of some essential oil is because of the amount of plant material it takes to make these oils. Rose absolute oil, for example, takes over 50,000 rose petals to yield just one ounce of essential oil.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to the price of essential oil is that it’s used in such small proportion that the cost is often well worth it. A small bottle of essential can last a very long time, up to three years, if properly stored.

Proper Storage of Essential Oil

Essential oil will break down very quickly if not cared for properly. These oils need to be stored in dark, glass bottles and away from light. I keep all of my essential oils in a cabinet in the corner of the kitchen. You’ll also need to keep them away from heat. Don’t store them above the stove or fireplace.

When working with essential oil, make sure to keep the lid on as much as possible. You should remove the lid only long enough to extract what you need and then replace it promptly. Moisture is another enemy of essential oil. Don’t store them in a bathroom or other place prone to humidity.

Where to Find Essential Oil

Essential oil is virtually impossible to make at home as it requires extensive equipment. However, you can find essential oil at many mail-order retailers, online retailers and in natural health stores across the country. Sometimes you may be able to find essential oil at craft and hobby stores but beware the quality of these often too-cheap oils.

Make sure you are purchasing essential oil from a reputable supplier. Some of the best places to find essential oil, in my personal experience, include Lavender Lane and Mountain Rose Herbs. These companies are reliable and offer quality essential oils. If you are uncertain about the price of a certain essential oil, I would recommend researching one of these companies to see what they are selling them for and judge from there.

Practical Uses of Essential Oil

Essential oil has many uses, especially in holistic aromatherapy, alternative medicine and natural bath and beauty products. Lavender essential oil, for example, can be rubbed on the temples to help relieve a headache. You can use essential oil to make homemade natural soap, homemade shampoo, natural cleaning products, and more.

Put basil essential oil on a cotton ball and inhale the scent to stimulate the appetite. Inhale chamomile essential oil for anxiety and to help you relax or bring sleep.

Inhale coriander essential oil to promote the healing process when recovering from injury.

Place a few drops of cypress essential oil on dog bedding to repel fleas. This is also an easy way to make a natural flea collar. Take a regular dog collar made of an absorbent material (i.e. not leather) and put a few drops of cypress and/or citronella essential oil directly on the collar.

Eucalyptus essential oil is fabulous to use for cleaning tough dirt from floors. Add a few drops to hot water and soap for a concentrated cleaning solution.

Put a few drops of an essential oil that you fancy on pieces of scrap fabric and toss in the dryer for a homemade dryer sheet. Or place the fabric scraps in drawers and closets to keep clothes fresh and smelling great.

As you can see, essential oil has many uses. For further information on the healing benefits of essential oil, see the resources section for links.