1 – What are essential oils?
Essential oils are mixtures of various volatile chemicals that can be alcohols, acetones, ketones, ethers or aldehydes, which are produced and stored in plants' secretary channels, giving characteristic smells to some flowers, trees, fruits, herbs, leaves and seeds.
Essential oils are extracted from different plant organs: roots, rhizomes, wood, leaves, fruit and/or flowering tops.
Generally, they are removed by distillation in a current of steam, although there are other methods. They are intensely aromatic and many have healing properties.
The composition varies with the place of origin, the plant's habitat, the time of collection, the extraction method, etc. They are liquid at room temperature and are insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol, fats, vegetable oils and waxes.
In warm climates plants have a higher content of essential oils.
2 – How are essential oils obtained?
Steam distillation is a distinct type of distillation process, which is used for temperature-sensitive materials such as natural aromatics. Basically it is used to extract essential oils from their natural sources. Is the method of purification of any plant tissue by applying water vapour to it. Oil is then collected from the top of the hydrosol.
Carbon Dioxide extraction is a process used to extract the essential oil from a plant. When a stipulated amount of pressure is applied, CO2 gas becomes liquid. This solvent liquid is quite inert and secure. The essential oils extracted by this method have several added advantages and this method is preferred for the production of high-quality herbal extracts, which are required by the flavouring industries and in herbal medicine.
This is an extraction method, which is used, in some cases, to replace steam distillation. This extraction process is one of the most used traditional methods. Instead of passing steam through the plant tissue; the plant tissue is mixed with water. Then the mixture is heated to generate steam. Oil is then collected from the top of the hydrosol.
In this method plant tissue is macerated in a given solvent. Then, the essential oil is separated from the solvent by distillation.
Cold extraction by mechanical presses is a method used to extract the essential oils of citrus plants.
3 – What are the properties of essential oils?
Essential oils have therapeutic and healing functions for the body and mind. Their benefits include being antidepressants and aphrodisiacs, improving skin and hair, helping in daily life, etc.
Their main therapeutic properties include antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, carminative and eupeptic properties etc. Keep in mind that some essential oils can be toxic, especially at high doses and mainly in the central nervous system. Others may also cause irritation or allergy problems.
In addition to their therapeutic properties, essential oils are of strong interest to the pharmaceutical and food industries and especially in perfumery.
4 – What are the physical characteristics of essential oils?
Essential oils are volatile and liquid at room temperature. Immediately after distillation, they are colourless or slightly yellow. Their density is lower than that of water (there are exceptions). They are almost always endowed with optical rotation and have a high refractive index. They are soluble in alcohols and in common organic solvents such as ether or chloroform, and high-grade alcohol. They have low solubility in water but can be extracted with water vapour.
5 – Why and how essential oils are used?
Essential oils are used in different industries
They are used to flavour prepared meats, sausages, soups, ice cream and cheeses and for the preparation of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, especially sodas. They are also used in the production of sweets, chocolates and other goodies.
They are used in toothpastes, analgesics, and inhalants to clear the airways. They are also used in the manufacture of many medications to neutralize unpleasant tastes.
This industry uses essential oils in the production of cosmetics, soaps, colognes, perfumes and make-up.
Veterinary Products Industry:
This industry uses essential oils as insecticides.
Industrial Deodorants Industry:
Essential oils are used to mask the unpleasant odours of some industrial products such as rubber, paints and plastics. Some oils are used in the paint industry as biodegradable solvents. They are also used to flavour some toys. In the textile industry, they are used to mask odours in dyeing processes. In the paper industry, they are used to fix fragrances on cards, toilet paper, facial tissues, etc.
Essential oils are used to flavour cigarettes.
Biocides and pesticides:
Essential oils are used to replace some chemicals as they have the property of not harming the environment.
Some essential oils have antibacterial properties. Other essential oils have insecticidal properties and are used to repel ants, fleas, flies, lice, moths, cockroaches, etc.
6 – What is the difference between natural, artificial and synthetic essential oils?
Natural essential oils are obtained directly from the plant and do not suffer from being subject to subsequent physical or chemical modifications, because the yield is so low, they are very expensive.
Artificial oils are obtained by processes which enrich the same essential oil with one or more of its components, for example, the essences of rose, jasmine and geranium are enriched by being mixed with linalool, while anise oil is enriched with anethole.
Synthetic essential oils are produced by combining components which are most often produced by processes of chemical synthesis. These are less expensive and hence are much used for perfuming and flavour.
7 – How to preserve essential oils?
Essential oils should be properly maintained so as not to alter their natural components and avoid them presenting various defects that make them unsuitable for use. They should preferably be kept in glass bottles, which should be dark in colour or in aluminium or stainless steel containers. These receptacles or containers form very good barriers and prevent light leakage since light can alter the components of the essential oils. They must also be kept in a dark place and protected from excessive heat because the oils are flammable.
8 – Why buy Crown Aroma?
Our essential oils are pure and of high quality. They are obtained by different extraction methods in accordance with the strictest standards. We ensure that they are presented in safe containers, which do not cause any alteration in the oils. The essential oils we sell are selected from the highest quality oils, both nationally and internationally. They are defined botanically and by specifying their main active ingredients.
9 – How to choose an essential oil?
An essential oil can be chosen for the content of its active ingredients as confirmed by independent laboratory analysis. It is also necessary to consider its origin, which is to say the region where the plants are cultivated and the oils are extracted; to confirm the experience and longevity of the producer and to evaluate the mode of production – preferring those producers which use clean and renewable energy.
10 – What is the difference between vegetable oils, mineral oil, and essential oils?
Vegetable oils are derived from plant seeds and are the product of the ripening process thereof. They have a softening, nourishing and moisturising effect, forming a thin protective layer on the skin. Vegetable oils are easily absorbed by the skin and as they do not clog the pores, they let the skin breathe freely.
Mineral oils are derived from petroleum, such as paraffin or petrolatum, which are also widely used in cosmetics. They are left on the skin surface and do not let it breathe. Mineral oils do not let moisture in to the skin, nor do they eliminate toxins, absorb vitamins or minerals or renew cells. They do block pores.
Essential oils are highly volatile and their chemical structure is very complex. They are responsible for generating the aromatic component of plants and are found in different parts of the plant according to the family: leaves, fruits, seeds, petals, etc. They are highly active ingredients and their incorporation in products should be made with great caution.
11 – What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a form of curative treatment using concentrated plant oils, called essential oils, to improve physical and mental health.
The word aromatherapy comes from the Greek "aroma" (scent) and “therapy” (cure). It is a particular branch of phytotherapy.
Phytotherapy (also called herbalism) is the curative treatment of diseases by substances obtained from plants.
In 1920 the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse discovered the medicinal properties of lavender essential oil when he applied it to a burn on his hand after an accident in his laboratory.
In 1928 Gattefosse coined the term "aromatherapy" to summarize the curative effect of essential oils.
Later Dr. Jean Valnet, the French army surgeon, successfully used essential oils to treat wounded soldiers in combat and patients in a psychiatric hospital.
In 1964 Valnet published "Aromathérapie" which many still consider the bible of aromatherapy.
In the 1950s, Marguerite Maury, an Austrian beauty therapist and biochemist, introduced the idea of using essential oils in massage and established the first aromatherapy clinics in Brittany (France) and in Switzerland. Later some physiotherapists, nurses, cosmetologists, massage therapists, doctors and other health professionals began to use essential oils as an alternative to antibiotics.
12 – Where are essential oils found in plants?
They can be found in different parts of the plant, for example in the leaves of basil, mint and rosemary; in the roots of valerian and calamus; in the bark of cinnamon and sandalwood; in the flowers of jasmine and rose; in the peel of lemon, tangerine and orange and in the fruit of anise, cardamom and fennel.
13 – Why are some essential oils more expensive than others?
One of the main differences is the quality. It is often the case that the lower-price oils found on the market are less rich in active ingredients. Moreover the yield of each plant must be considered. Some have high yield while others do not. For example, 4000 kg of rose petals are needed to distil a litre of oil of Rosa Damascena, but only 100 kg of flowers are used for a litre of lavender essential oil.
The price reflects the yield of each plant. That explains the wide disparity in the prices of essential oils.
14 – Why is the origin of the plant important? What is the chemotype?
The place of origin of the plant is very important because the same kind of aromatic plant can produce different essential oils depending on the country, region, terrain, climate, altitude and other growing conditions. Examples of this include the essential oils produced by rosemary and thyme.
The chemotype is a form of chemical, biological and botanical classification, which defines the molecule which has the greatest presence in the essential oil and thus defines it clearly and safely.
15 – Why is it important to know the part of the plant from which the essential oil was extracted?
It is very important to define the part of the plant from which the essential oil has been extracted, because the benefits of the essential oils of some plants may differ according to the part of the plant from which the oil has been obtained. It could be from the bark, flower or leaf, etc.
That's why quality oils indicate the part of the plant from which the oils are obtained. For example, the oil from juniper berries is different to that from juniper branches.
16 – Are essential oils soluble in water?
No essential oils are not soluble in water, they are only soluble in other essential oils, or vegetable oils. They are also soluble in concentrated alcohol.
17 – How long can an essential oil be preserved without deterioration?
It is very important to conserve essential oils in the correct way. Because they are sensitive to light and high temperatures, they should be kept in glass or metal containers which are closed and protect from heat. It should also be noted that essential oils react with plastic, so it is not advisable to use containers of this material. An essential oil, if kept in the right ambiental conditions, can last up to four years, keeping all its properties in perfect condition.