Essential oil was introduces 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 increasing prominence of aromatherapy.
Essential oils are such a volatile oil extracted by plants instead of manufactured in labs. Essential oils are pure liquid version of plants solvents that is extracted by best suiting method. Oil that curb the pure essence, and scent of plants.
What is Essential Oil?
As we have discussed before too that essential oils are pure extraction of plants chemicals. Essential oils are substitution of plants minerals which are extricate from plants. Name of essential oil also described the meaning their name as Lavender Essential Oil tells oil that contain essence of lavender.
What essential oil is can best understand by learning how it’s made.
Essential oils are formulated by using many methods like Steam Distillation, CO2 Extraction, Solvent Extraction, Cold Press Extraction, Maceration, Water Distillation, and Enfleurage. Steam Distillation is most famous method that used to cumulate plants minerals, and essence.
But for some plants a particular method is best suited like for citrus fruit peels Cold Press Extraction is way better than Enfleurage method.
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 steam distillation process.
Step 1. A large container made with stainless steel contains the plant material in it.
Step 2. Steam is passed through the inlet which passed from the plant material. Steam releases the essential oil from plant material and vaporized them.
Step 3. Then the vaporized essential oil of plants passed through a condenser where two separate ways are present to separate cold water and hot water.
Step 4. After that product outlets are collected in a separator as oil and water doesn’t mix, and the oil floats over which is separate here from water and goes for packaging.
(Note: Sometimes plant oil has more density than water and it sets below water such as essential oil of clove sets in bottom.)
In Steam distillation process quality of essential oil is based in the pressure and temperature.
Water Distillation method is quite similar to Steam distillation method. In water distillation method plants are boiled in water and plant oil nutrients are separated from plants.
Then through a condensing water in cooled down to separate oil from water. As we already know oil doesn’t get mixed with water. They can be easily separated.
Dry Distillation method
In this method no water or vapor is involved in this method. Plants are just directly put to heating up process to evaporate the essential oil. And the vapors droplets are collected.
This method is more like burning method and not much used process anymore.
Solvent Extraction Method
This method is most suitable to the plants material with less amount of essential oil. Or for the material of plant that can’t resist with the pressure of 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, kind of waxy aromatic compound is composed that is called “Concrete”.
Step 3. Then this concrete is mixed with alcohol to get essential oil. This is used in aromatherapy process.
Using this process absolutes are produced not pure essential oil. As using this method solvents are dissolved in essence of plants material.
CO2 Extraction Method
CO2 extraction method in the further version of steam distillation method. While using steam distillation method quality of the essential oil depends on various factors such as time and heat. Whereas in CO2 extraction method best quality of essential oil is carried out.
Step 1. At first pressured CO2 (liquid form of CO2 while in gaseous form) known as “Supercritical” form of CO2 is pump to the plant material.
Step 2. Pressured CO2 act as a solvent because of it’s liquid property and mix easily with the plant material nutrient or essential oil.
Step 3. Then CO2 is brought back to its normal state which is gas, and essential oil from plant mixed with it, get separated from CO2.
After bringing CO2 to its normal pressure it is very easy to separate the essential oil from it. And through this method best quality of essential is obtained.
Macerated oil is known as infused oil which is created when carrier oil is used to isolate the essential oil from plant.
Step 1. In this process plant material are finely grounded in powder form and closed in container.
Step 2. Menstruum solvent is then added to the plant material. And leave it for long time. This material is shake time to time.
Step 3. Than the residue of the plant material with solvent is strained out completely to make sure there is no liquid left in that.
Step 4. At last liquid is passed through the filtration process to get the essential oil.
Cold Press Extraction
This method is specially used to extracts the essential from citrus.
Step 1. Citrus fruit is placed in device where essential oil sacs run to the down mechanically.
Step 2. Whole citrus fruit and peel are pressed harder to extricate the juice and oil from it.
Step 3. The residue is then processed to distinct the oil from juice and citrus peels. The essential is then used for perfumes and aromatherapy.
Enfluerage is the oldest method to extracts essential oil from plant material. It is not commonly used now. In this method either vegetable fat or animal fat is used to take out the essential oil from plants.
Some substances of fat (vegetable fat or animal fat) are induced in the essential oil at last by using this process. This process can be done in either hot or cold instances.
Big factor of essential oil is used in perfumes and aromatherapy nowadays. And you might have surprised after knowing several of extraction methods of essential oil. And now you are able to distinguish between pure and adulterate essential oil by yourself.