The essential oil was introduced by Ancient Egyptians as early as 4500 BC. They have used essential oil for cosmetics and aromatherapy. And now also, essential oils are taking uptake due to the increasing prominence of aromatherapy.
Essential oils are volatile oils extracted by plants instead of manufactured in labs. Essential oils are a pure liquid version of plant solvents extracted by the best-suiting method. The oil curb the pure essence and scent of plants.
What is Essential Oil?
As we have discussed before, essential oils are pure extraction of plant chemicals. Essential oils are substitutions of plant minerals that are extricated from plants. The name of crucial oil also describes the meaning of their name as Lavender. Therefore, essential oil says oil contains the essence of Lavender.
What essential oil is can best understood by learning how it’s made.
Essential oils are formulated using many methods like Steam Distillation, CO2 Extraction, Solvent Extraction, Cold Press Extraction, Maceration, Water Distillation, and Enfleurage. Steam Distillation is the most famous method to cumulate plants, minerals, and essence.
But a particular method is best suited for some plants for citrus fruit peels. Cold Press Extraction is way better than the Enfleurage method.
The Steam Distillation method includes steams that isolate the minerals and essential oil from plants through a process and accumulate them in a container. Lavender essential oil is always made through the steam distillation process.
Step 1. A large container made of stainless steel contains plant material in it.
Step 2. Steam is passed through the inlet, which passes from the plant material. Steam released the essential oil from the plant material and vaporized them.
Step 3. Then the vaporized essential oil of plants passes through a condenser where two separate ways separate cold and hot water.
Step 4. After that, product outlets are collected in a separator as oil and water don’t mix, and the oil floats over, which is separate from the water and goes for packaging.
(Note: Sometimes plant oil has more density than water and sets below water, such as essential oil of clove sets in the bottom.)
In the Steam distillation process, essential oil quality is based on pressure and temperature.
The Water Distillation method is quite similar to the Steam distillation method. However, plants are boiled in the water distillation method, and plant oil nutrients are separated from plants.
Then through condensing, water is cooled down to separate oil from water. As we already know, fat doesn’t get mixed with water. Therefore, it can be easily separated.
Dry Distillation method
In this method, no water or vapor is involved. Instead, plants are directly put into the heating-up process to evaporate the essential oil. And the vapors droplets are collected.
This method is more like a burning method and not a much-used process anymore.
Solvent Extraction Method
This method is most suitable for plant material with less essential oil. Or for the fabric of a plant that can’t resist the pressure of the steam distillation process.
Step 1. Ethanol and Hexane solvents are used in Solvent Extraction Method to extract the essential oil from plant material.
Step 2. After treating plant material with these solvents, a kind of waxy aromatic compound is composed that is called “Concrete.”
Step 3. Then this concrete is mixed with alcohol to get essential oil. Finally, it is used in the aromatherapy process.
Using the aromatherapy process, absolutes are produced, not pure essential oil. Using this method, solvents are dissolved in the essence of plant material.
CO2 Extraction Method
CO2 extraction method in the other version of the steam distillation method. While using the steam distillation method quality of the essential oil depends on various factors such as time and heat. In the CO2 extraction method, the best quality of essential oil is carried out.
Step 1. At first, pressured CO2 (the liquid form of CO2 while in gaseous form), known as the “Supercritical” form of CO2, is a pump to the plant material.
Step 2. Pressured CO2 is a solvent because of its liquid property and mixes easily with the plant material nutrient or essential oil.
Step 3. Then CO2 is returned to its normal state, and gas and essential oil from mixed plants get separated from CO2.
After bringing CO2 to its normal pressure, separating the essential oil from it is straightforward. And through this method, the best quality of crucial is obtained.
Macerated oil is known as infused oil which is created when carrier oil is used to isolate the essential oil from the plant.
Step 1. In this process, plant materials are finely grounded in powder form and closed in the container.
Step 2. Menstruum solvent is then added to the plant material. And leave it for a long time. This material is shaken from time to time.
Step 3. Then, the residue of the plant material with solvent is strained out thoroughly to ensure no liquid is left in that.
Step 4. At last, the liquid is passed through the filtration process to get the essential oil.
Cold Press Extraction
This method is specially used to extract the essentials from citrus.
Step 1. Citrus fruit is placed in a device where essential oil sacs run down mechanically.
Step 2. Whole citrus fruit and peel are pressed harder to extricate the juice and oil.
Step 3. The residue is then processed to distinguish the oil from juice and citrus peels. The essential is then used for perfumes and aromatherapy.
Enfleurage is the oldest method to extract essential oil from plant material. However, it has been used previously. In this method, vegetable or animal fat is used to remove the essential oil from plants.
Some fat substances (vegetable fat or animal fat) are induced in the essential oil, at last, using this process. This process can be done in either hot or cold instances.
A significant factor of essential oil is used in perfumes and aromatherapy nowadays. And you might have been surprised after learning several extraction methods for essential oil. And now, you can distinguish between pure and adulterate essential oil by yourself.