Essential oils. Do you love them? Are you curious about them? Do you know what essential oils are?
Questioning about what essential oils are is not uncommon. From essential oil newbies, to daily essential oil users, this question still gets asked. Why is that? I’m glad you asked! Essential oils aren’t new, in fact they have been around for years. We just have had as much mainstream attention to them previously as we do now. Are essentials oils something that smells nice? Yes. Are essential oils products that are used in ways to support a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely! Essential oils have both of these attributes, but they are so much more than that.
What is an Essential Oil?
Have you ever zested a citrus fruit like an orange or a lemon? Most everyone has smelled a flower, such as a rose, at least once in their life. Where does that distinct smell come from? The essential oils in the plant are the cause of that aroma that you experience when you smell flowers, herbs, and other plants. The essential oil is located all throughout the plant; it is in the stem, the seeds, the flowers, the roots, and other places within the plant. It is a highly concentrated, natural oil produced from the plant.
So how does the essential oil from the plant become a bottle of liquid goodness that you can have in your home? The oil has to be extracted and this occurs through a distillation process. There are four main methods of distillation: Steam Distillation, Absolute Oil Extraction, Resin Distillation, and Cold Pressing. These processes each differ in how they are performed and they each have different results when capturing the essential oil from the plant.
The process of distillation requires that the plant material be placed within a still and either steam or a combination of water and steam is pumped into the sealed still. As the steam processes through the plant material, the volatile materials in the plant (which includes the essential oils) start to to evaporate and they rise upward toward a connecting pipe that leads the volatile materials to the condenser. Once in the condenser, the vapor is cooled back down and forms into a liquid. As water and oil do not mix, the liquid is then separated and the essential oil is removed from the liquid mixture. Many oils are lighter than water and rise to the top; however, there are some oils that are heavier than water, like clove oil.
Contrastingly, Cold Pressing is a form of expressing the plant material to extract the essential oil. In this method, the peel of the plant/fruit is soaked in water to prepare the peel for expression. Then the peel is either pressed with a sponge or placed in a container to be pricked and prodded to release the essential oil. The liquid that is extracted is then placed into a machine that separates the essential oil from the juice from the plant/fruit. You can read more about the different types of extraction here.
Essential Oils: Good? Bad? Safe?
So, you know what an essential oil is and you know how it is extracted, but you still are unsure about oils. If this is something you are going to use in your home or even apply to your skin, you will want to know that it is safe. It is the logical next question that will come to the forefront of your mind. This can, however, be a difficult question to get answered.
To answer it as best as possible, I will set a few ground rules. First, essential oils are not FDA approved. Just because they are not FDA approved does not mean that they are not safe; it simply means the FDA has not approved any claims that may indicate the ability of an essential oil to treat, cure, or prevent diseases. There are, however, certain products that contain essential oils that have been approved by the FDA. Second, I am going to answer this question utilizing the evidence that I have found to be the best evidence to support the use of essential oils to support a healthy lifestyle. At the end of the day, you have to decide if essential oils are safe for you.
Now that we have those disclosures out of the way, we can proceed with discussing the safety of essential oils. Since essential oils are extracted from the natural plant, it is a natural substance that is safe when used appropriately. However, it is important to know a few things about that essential oil t determine how safe it is. First, where was the plant sourced from? How was the plant grown? Were pesticides used during the growing process that could result in the product not being as “natural” as you might think? These are all valid questions to ask and to research before you just dive into using just any bottle of essential oil.
Next, you will want to understand how the essential oil was extracted by that company. Was it distilled? Cold-pressed? How many times was the plant put through the distillation process? Was the plant processed more than once? Once the oil was distilled, were synthetic fragrances added to make the smell of the essential oil to enhance the fragrance to be stronger than it would be after the natural distillation process?
So, Which Brand Do I Choose?
Personally, if there was an issue in your research to any of the above questions, I would not use the essential oil. Why? Essential oils when diffused or placed on the body are very quickly distributed through the body. If the goal is to support a healthy lifestyle, then why would you use a product that was not naturally sourced or processed? Of course you want to use oils that you trust, that you can be sure are sourced ethically and naturally, and are distilled and bottled with only the natural essential oil and no synthetic fragrances. There are many companies that will share their quality standards and share that their oils are the highest quality of oils. Do your research and choose the oils that you trust and believe in. It might be oils from an MLM or oils that you just buy online. If you want to read further about the brand I chose, you can read that here. Whatever you decide, make sure that you make the essential oil choice that is right for you.
Are you ready to embark on your essential oil adventure? Still unsure or have questions? Don’t be afraid to reach out and I will help answer those questions or point you in the direction to help find those answers.
Enjoy the adventure!