What Are Essential Oils : Beginner’s Guide

This article aims towards an absolute beginner who wants to know what are essential oils, and how she can start using essential oils in her day to day life.

Essential oils are volatile fluids derived from the plants around us. They are highly concentrated in nature and holds all the characteristics of the plant they came from, hence the name essential oils.

Different parts of a plant are used to extract essential oils, as each part of the plant gives a different kind of essential oil.

There are plenty of methods to extract oil from the plant:

  • Steam/Water Distillation (most prevalent and famous method)
  • Solvent extraction
  • Expression
  • Enfleurage
  • Maceration
  • Turbo Distillation (accelerated distillation)
  • Hydro Diffusion
  • Hypercritical carbon dioxide extraction.

To extract about an ounce of essential oil, you may need about 50000-70000 flower blossoms.

Of-course, different flowers yield different quantities.

Qualities and grades of essential oils

Any grade that you see on your bottle of essential is a made-up grade. There are no such FDA standards, or other countermeasures exist to define a grading system.

Any certification that you see is just a proprietary certification that has nothing to do with the actual quality of the contents.

FDA only wants oil to contain 10% essential, and they are okay with 100% pure label on the bottle.

But mostly, you will come across the following grades:

Grade A (Therapeutic Grade)

With this grade, manufacturers claim that they only used organic plants to extract this grade and are obtained with precession distillation methods.

For example, temperatures and quality of raw-material, etc…

Grade 2 (Food Grade)

These are not so pure grade of essential oils. Mostly used in foods. Oils with this grade are diluted with synthetic components to artificially extend the character. And the plants used for these are grown with fertilizers and pesticides.

Grade 3 (Perfume Grade)

Perfume grade essential oils also contain extender chemicals. And may also contain solvents to maximize the yield from plants for maximum profit.

Grade 4 (Residual waters)

This grade is just residual floral water that you yield after steam distillation. The quality of this grade is determined by the category that it came from. If it came from grade 1 distillation, consider it to be of very high quality.

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