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What are Essential Oils?

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Essential oils are the pure and concentrated energies held within the plants cells. These aromatic cells are located in specific parts of the plants. For Sandalwood, for example, the aromatic cells are in the bar. For Rose, they are found in the petals. For Orange, the peel, etc. Various organs of the plant itself either produce and/or store the essence. What we call oil cells or hair cells are living cells in which the essence is found. Oil or resin ducts are spaces within the plant tissue that hold the essence. Through the regression of bordering cells, the space becomes enlarged and hose-like (essential oils from seeds, resinous trees such as Spruce, etc.). Oil containers exist when the cell walls of the oil-producing cells dissolve, as in the citrus family. There is not one part of the plant that does not produce or store the essence. Sometimes the same plant can hold different essences. The perfect example of this phenomenon is the orage tree. Oragne essntial oil is derived from the fruit, Petitgrain is extracted from the leaves, and Neroli from the blossom. They all offer very different characteristics and healing properties.

The difference between organic and non-organic essential oils is that organic essential oils are extracted from plants that have not been treated with pesticides, herbicides, irradiation, or any form of unnatural treatment. Non-organic oils may contain toxic and unnatural substances that may harmful or cause allergic reactions. Do expect to pay more for oils distilled from organic plants since it does cost a lot more to grow crops naturally and organically.

Essential oils should be stored in a cool dark place because many oils are sensitive to UV light. Store the oils in dark amber or cobalt glass bottles. Essential oils should never be stored in plastic bottles or with plastic droppers as the vapors may damage the dropper or plastic container. Essential oils will keep for approximately 1 year when properly stored. Some citrus oils such as lemon, orange and lime will have a shorter shelf life. Keep all essential oils beyond the reach of children.

What is an Essence, an Essential Oil and an Hydrosol?

An essence is contained with the plant, while the essential oil is the end resulf of extracting the essence from the plant material through steam distillation, extraction or enfleurage. A hydrosol is the end result of the steam distillation; it is the condensed water charged in aromatic molecules and on which float the essential oil. Hydrosols offer wonderful healing properties and are gentler and safer even when essential oils have to be avoided.

By Dolores J Gozzi Certified Aromatherapist
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Dolores J Gozzi Certified Aromatherapist

Author: Certified Aromatherapist

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