The Essentials of Essential Oils
For the most, essential oils are a pure hydrophobic by product containing mutable aroma compounds derived from plants.
Essential oils have been extracted throughout history using a variety of methods.One of the earliest mention of techniques used to make essential oils is by the renowned Andalusian physician, chemist and pharmacist Ibn al- Baitar (1188-1248). The most common method, which is still used today, is distillation. For the most part essential oils are used for a variety of reasons. These include, but are certainly not limited to- soaps, perfumes, different types of cosmetics and incense.
As mentioned earlier, distillation is the most common method of essential oil extraction. The process of distillation begins with raw plant material such as roots, bark, peel, leaves and flowers are placed into a distillation apparatus known as an 'alembic' over water. Once the water begins to heat, steam is then produced. This steam the begins to rise up through the raw plant material. This in turn vaporises the compounds. Once this steam passes through a coil, condensation occurs.
Essential oils are usually placed in categories based on the type of raw material they were extracted from.