Let’s explore the world of aromatherapy!
Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic plant extracts or essential oils for physical and/or mental wellbeing. Absolutes and CO2 Extracts are also commonly used in aromatherapy. We will explore each of those in detail in this blog post. Aromatherapy also encourages the use of complimentary natural ingredients including plant oils, herbs, salts and sugars. Synthetic ingredients including fragrance and perfume oils, are not used in aromatherapy as there is no therapeutic benefit to them.
Essential oils are the natural oils from a plant and is usually produced by steam or water distillation. These oils capture the plant’s scent/flavor and are considered the “essence” of the plant. Essential oils are highly concentrated and a little goes a long way. It is important to educate yourself on the essential oils you use in order to ensure that you can use them safely.
Essential oils are comprised of naturally occurring chemicals, also called constituents. Pure essential oils are never adulterated or have any additives. Cost and quality of essential oils can vary greatly as it is dependent on the availability/rarity of the plant, growing conditions, the distillation process, country of origin, etc. Also some essential oils will be made into a blend with other essential oils or with a carrier oil.
When applying topically most essential oils should be diluted. Putting pure essential oil on your skin can cause sensitivity or irritation. Plant oils, such as olive oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, etc. are great carrier oils to add essential oils to when applying topically. Essential oils can also be added to diffusers with water to mist into the air for inhalation.
Essential oils have so many wonderful therapeutic properties and when used safely are great to incorporate into your daily life and wellness routine!
Similar to essential oils, absolutes are highly concentrated aromatic liquid extracted from plants. However, absolutes differ from essential oils, as they require a use of chemical solvents for their complicated extraction process. These chemical solvents are later removed, however a trace amount often remains in the final product. Due to this trace amount of solvent, pure essential oils are typically preferred for use in holistic aromatherapy.
Absolutes still have a place in aromatherapy as some plants require a use of chemical solvents to extract the aromatic oil. Jasmine oil is an example of an absolute. Absolutes are typically even more aromatic/concentrated than essential oils. Therefore, even less of the absolute needs to be used.
CO2 Extracts are oils extracted by using carbon dioxide (CO2). In it’s regular state, carbon dioxide is a gas we breathe. When pressurized it becomes a liquid. This liquid is then used as a solvent with the plant to extract the oil from it. The CO2 is then brought back to a gas state and the remaining liquid is the CO2 extract. Unlike absolutes, once the extraction process is complete, all of the CO2 returns to its gaseous state and no solvent remains. CO2 extracts have an advantage over essential oils as they are not as sensitive to temperature and oxygen, they have a longer shelf-life and a finer scent. Due to these reasons and others, CO2 extracts are becoming more popular.
Interested in using aromatherapy in your skin, body and hair care products? Check out the following: