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The Essentials of Essential Oils

Unveil the Essentials of Essential Oils: A Glimpse into Extraction and Applications

Essential oils, primarily hydrophobic byproducts, encapsulate mutable aroma compounds derived from various plants. The term 'essential oil' signifies the purest essence of a plant's fragrance, a concept dating back to ancient times and documented by renowned figures like Ibn al-Baitar (1188-1248).

Historically, essential oils have been extracted through diverse methods, with distillation standing out as the most enduring technique. Distillation involves placing raw plant materials, such as roots, bark, peel, leaves, and flowers, in an 'alembic' apparatus over water. As the water heats, steam rises through the plant material, vaporizing the compounds. Upon passing through a coil, condensation occurs.

Preceding distillation, 'expression' or 'cold-pressing' is an extraction method, especially suited for citrus peels due to their abundant oil content. This process predates distillation and involves mechanically pressing oils from the plant material.

Beyond their aromatic allure, essential oils serve diverse purposes, finding applications in soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, and incense. Additionally, the therapeutic use of essential oils has a rich historical lineage, rejuvenated in contemporary times through practices like reiki, massage, and alternative healing therapies.

Essential oils are categorized based on the raw material they originate from, ranging from berries and bark to flowers, peels, leaves, roots, rhizomes, seeds, and wood. These categories not only showcase the versatility of essential oils but also highlight their varied applications in the realms of fragrance, skincare, and holistic well-being.


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