What are essential oils?
Essential oils are called mixtures of volatile, aromatic substances. From the point of view of chemistry, essential oils are multicomponent organic compounds of terpenes, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones and other substances. The ability to produce essential oils is not equally expressed in all plants, they are mostly produced from plants with essential oil. The amount of essential oils in plants varies widely - from thousands of percent to 25%. The accumulation of essential oils is influenced by various factors: climate, light, soil, plant development phase, age and others. Essential oils accumulate in plants in various formations.
The use of essential oils as aromatic substances has a long history. The name of this group of substances was given in the 18th century, when nothing was known about their chemical composition. They were called basic because they are highly volatile, and oils, because they are greasy to the touch, do not mix with water and are lighter than it.
There are several methods for extracting essential oils from plants:
- distillation of raw materials by steam or water
- pressing (squeezing) - applicable to raw materials rich in essential oils (citrus fruits)
- adsorption based on the property of fats to absorb essential oils evaporating from the flowers - applicable to plants whose delicate odor changes during distillation.
- absorption by activated charcoal and subsequent extraction with alcohol - fat-free absorption method
maceration based on the ability of essential oils to dissolve in fats and consists of infusing flowers with oil
- extraction of essential oil with low-boiling liquids, which are then distilled
The most common method of distillation of raw materials by water-steam method.