How to Extract Essential Oils:

How to Extract Essential Oils:

Essential oils are volatile in nature. The inhalational benefits from such volatile essential oils are immense. But the extraction of such oils must be done carefully in order to preserve this volatility nature. There are four major types of oil extraction methods: carbon dioxide extraction, distillation, expression and solvent extraction.

The first method is expression which is environment friendly. This is the simplest method of obtaining oil by pressing the plant material and forcing the oil within the material ooze out. This oil extracted is called as essence. These essence are highly volatile than other forms of oil extracted. The aroma therapist calls it as a top note in a blend. These evaporate quickly and are anti-oxidants.

The other method of extraction is solvent extracted. This method, as the name suggests, involves of treating the plant in a solvent that extracts the volatile parts. This is very costly. This method is usually followed for those plant products, such as rose petals, are delicate and cannot withstand heat or steam. The solvent bath is evaporated under high temperature resulting with a crystallized substance which is left over as a residue. The oil derived from such extraction method is known as Absolute. This oil is very costly as well as the process of extraction is also expensive.

The latest method of extraction is carbon dioxide extraction. This process is very similar to decaffeination of coffee. This process involves very low temperatures. Hence, this has not been a success so far as the oil produced is thick and will not smell or blend.

The most oldest and the most widely practised method of extraction is distillation. A perfect distillation process needs the following facts to be viewed properly: the plant material to be used, the soil in which the plants are grown, proper irrigation of plants during growing phase, proper distiller packing etc. The sound of steam has also to be monitored carefully. The seeds to be processed are to be thoroughly checked.

Be aware of adulteration in oils. Adulteration decreases the effectiveness, increases health hazards and decreases the quality of essential oils. Hence, after any extraction method, the composition of oil has to be assessed. Mass Spectrometer and Gas Chromatography are two methods for determining the composition of essential oils.

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