What is an Essential Oil?
An essential oil is a liquid that is generally distilled (most frequently by steam or water) from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other elements of a plant. Essential oils, contrary to the use of the word “oil” are not really oily-feeling at all. Most essential oils are clear, but some oils such as patchouli, orange and lemongrass are amber or yellow in color. They contain the true essence of the plant it was derived from. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and a little goes a long way.
Essential oils are not the same as perfume or fragrance oils. Where essential oils are derived from the true plants, perfume oils are artificially created fragrances or contain artificial substances and do not offer the therapeutic benefits that essential oils offer.
Essential oils can vary greatly in quality and price. Factors that can affect the quality and price of the oil include the rarity of the botanical, the country of origin and growing/climate conditions, quality standards of the distiller, and how much oil is produced by the botanical.
Essential oils can often be purchased as blends of several essential oils. The advantage if it is a blend of pure essential oils is that you can save from having to buy every essential oil individually. The disadvantage is that you have no control over the blend by not mixing it yourself nor can you reliably mix the blend with other oils.
Essential oils are extracted using a low-heat steam distillation process. Steam is circulated under pressure through plant material, freeing the essential oils into the steam. As the steam mixture cools, the water and oils are separated and the oils is collected in its pure form. Temperature and pressure must be monitored closely.
Where to Purchase
While there are many home-based businesses where you become a distributor to purchase oils at a discount price, I have personally found oils purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs to be of the highest quality and the best value. Mountain Rose Herbs offers high quality organic bulk herbs, gourmet spices, loose leaf teas, essential oils, herbal extracts, and natural body care ingredients. Their extensive selection includes certified organic, fair trade, ethically wild harvested, & Kosher certified botanical products.