Essential oils

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic compounds that are extracted from various parts of plants - flowers, leaves, stems, roots, fruits and other parts. These oils are responsible for the characteristic aroma and taste of the plants from which they are extracted and play an important role in plant metabolism.

Essential oils are used in various fields due to their beneficial properties. They are most often used in aromatherapy, perfumery, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, but are also used in the food industry to add flavor and aroma to foods. In some cases, they can also be used in cleaning products or as fragrances in home and personal care products.

Essential oils are extracted by various methods, such as steam distillation, hydrodistillation, cold pressing or CO2 extraction. These methods aim to isolate essential oils from plants and preserve their purity and quality.

It is important to note that essential oils are extremely concentrated and can be highly allergenic or irritating when applied directly to the skin. Sensitivity testing should be performed prior to use and recommendations for dilution or mixing with base oils when applied to the skin should be followed.

Essential oils are also 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. The amount of essential oils in plants varies widely - from thousands of percent to 25%. The accumulation of essential oils is affected by various factors: climate, light, soil, phase of plant development, age, etc. Essential oils accumulate in plants in various formations.

The use of essential oils as fragrances 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 water.

 

There are several methods for extracting essential oils from plants:

Distillation of raw materials with 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 flowers - applicable to plants whose delicate smell changes during distillation

Absorption by activated carbon and subsequent extraction with alcohol - fat-free absorption method

Maceration, based on the ability of essential oils to dissolve in fat and consists of immersing aromatic flowers and herbs in a base oil

Essential oil extraction with low-boiling liquids, which are then distilled

 

The most common method of distillation of raw materials is steam and water-steam method.

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