Essential Oils

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils, often called "essences," distinguish themselves from ordinary oils due to their volatility, which causes them to evaporate when exposed to open air. Beyond their temporary nature, they possess therapeutic qualities that benefit well-being.

These oils are meticulously extracted from the core of plant materials, capturing the very essence that defines their unique characteristics. Steam distillation is one method employed to remove the volatile compounds ensconced within the internal or external secretory structures of leaves, stems, roots, bark, flowers, or seeds. Meanwhile, the cold pressing of citrus fruit peels reveals their pristine and invigorating aromatic oils.

The essence of plant materials serves multiple purposes, finding application in both the perfumery industry and healthcare, owing to their potent properties.


Exploring Absolutes:

In contrast to essential oils primarily obtained through steam distillation, certain delicate flowers cannot endure this extraction procedure without compromising their petals. In response, an alternative technique involves solvent extraction. Flowers such as rose, lily, jasmine, lotus, and orange blossoms are subject to this method to obtain a nearly pure fragrant substance known as absolutes.

Unlike essential oils, absolutes may retain traces of natural pigments and plant components, resulting in a highly concentrated reddish-brown liquid. Properly stored, these absolutes can have their potency for many years. While they find utility in aromatherapy for addressing physical and emotional symptoms, their primary utilisation is within the perfume industry. This dual role categorises absolutes as nature's spirits, elegantly captured within light-shielded bottles.


Unveiling CO2 Extracts:

An innovative and impactful extraction technique reminiscent of absolutes takes the form of supercritical CO2 extracts. Renowned for its utilisation of lower temperatures and ability to isolate plant waxes from oils, this method harnesses the benefits of essential oils with remarkable therapeutic attributes. Notably, solvents are eliminated during the process and replaced by carbon dioxide (CO2), a key player in the extraction.

Through this technology, "supercritical" CO2, characterised by its hybrid gas-fluid state due to elevated temperature and pressure, acts as a solvent, coaxing forth the true aromatic essence of plants. The resulting extract emanates a fragrance more vibrant and potent than that achieved through steam distillation.

The stability of CO2 facilitates a comprehensive extraction, respecting the plant's integrity. Once extraction concludes, CO2 promptly reverts to its gaseous form, evaporating entirely. Although this method retains the authentic aroma of plant matter, it's important to note that steam distillation still reigns superior, yielding more robust and intense oils – a prime example being Patchouli oil.


Deciphering Organic Extracts:

Organic extracts emerge as a testament to cutting-edge technology, akin to historical practices such as effleurage, employed for centuries to capture herbal scents. Precisely processing certified substances such as fixed oils (derived from plants) gives premium fragrance extracts provides excellent fragrance extracts while preserving the original plant properties.

Notable aromatic species like Rose, Jasmine, Carnation, and Tuberose exemplify this technique, emitting their captivating aromas even after harvest. The resultant bio-available essence, extracted without heat, encapsulates the intricate fragrance of the source plant material.


Unveiling Hydrosols:

Hydrosols, also called hydrolates, floral waters, or herbal waters, arise as by-products of the essential oil distillation process, offering a diverse range analogous to essential oils. Occasionally intertwined with other products, such as distilled water or absolutes, hydrosols are growing in demand and availability.

During the steam distillation process aimed at extracting fragrance, two products emerge: the essential oil and the hydrosol, comprised of condensed steam carrying minuscule necessary oil particles.

Kurt Schnaubelt's discovery highlights the utility of hydrosols in aromatherapy, particularly in cases where essential oils may be too potent for children. His work emphasises the gentle effectiveness of hydrosols in therapeutic applications.

Suzanne Catty, author of "Hydrosols – the Next Aromatherapy," further extols their virtues, advocating for their use as homeopathic remedies when suitably diluted. She underscores the suitability of hydrosols for children and older adults, championing their ability to reveal the life-affirming essence encapsulated within floral scents.


Diluting Essential Oils, Absolutes, or Extracts in Carrier Oils:

The initial step is to achieve the ideal dilution percentage for essential oils, absolutes, or extracts.

For instance, a 3% dilution ratio is suggested in highly concentrated solutions – equivalent to 3% Essential Oil and 97% Carrier Oil. Precise measurements can be utilised to maintain this ratio. Calculating the desired final volume of the diluted substance is crucial; for instance, preparing 30 millilitres of the final product requires mixing 3 millilitres of absolute with 27 millilitres of carrier oil.

Preheating the carrier oil to a similar temperature enhances the incorporation of more viscous scented materials. Vigorous shaking of the container aids fusion, ensuring a homogenous blend. All dilutions must be accurately labelled, dated, and documented. Further exploration into intricate mixtures and combinations is encouraged, building upon the foundation of these fundamental principles.

Comprehensive knowledge of these substances' positive and negative attributes is paramount. Due to the heightened sensitivity of our skin, diluted solutions are recommended. Thorough research is imperative before employing any essential oils, as children may exhibit heightened reactions compared to adults.

Undiluted application on the skin, especially for small children, is strictly cautioned against. Certain aromatic oils, like Tea Tree and Lavender, are exceptions, capable of being applied undiluted on the skin. Nonetheless, dilution remains critical for most essential oils, catering to individual sensitivities. Children, specifically those over two years old, may benefit from lightly perfuming a room with certain oils, but dosages should be halved compared to those suitable for adults.


Addressing Accidental Eye Contact:

Swift action is crucial in accidental contact with essential oils, absolutes, or extracts in the eyes. Immediate use of a clean cloth soaked in vegetable oil is the most effective remedy, mitigating the impact of such contact.

Given the range of potential irritants, varying degrees of irritation may arise; if discomfort persists, prompt medical attention is advised to ensure proper care and resolution.


Unveiling "Photosensitising" Properties:

Numerous citrus oils, such as Bergamot, harbour bergapten, a constituent that induces photosensitivity. The term "photosensitivity" encompasses typical skin reactions, whereas "photosensitising" highlights the ability of specific oils to render the skin more susceptible to sunlight-induced sensitivities.


Exploring the Concept of "Chemotype":

Climatic conditions impact the chemical composition of herbs, leading to variations within plants of the same botanical identity. This variation is termed a "chemotype."

Within a single species, such as Ocimum basilicum, examples like Basil ct. Linalool and Basil ct. M. Chavicol showcase distinct chemical compositions due to their respective growth environments.


Understanding Oil "Constituents":

In the intricate world of essential oils, the term "constituents" refers to the diverse array of chemical components that collectively contribute to the unique characteristics of each oil.

These constituents are the building blocks responsible for an essential oil's distinct aroma, therapeutic properties, and potential effects. Every oil is composed of a complex blend of these constituents, each with specific properties and interactions.

Understanding the constituents within essential oils requires an exploration of their chemical nature. These compounds include terpenes, alcohols, esters, ketones, and phenols. Terpenes, for instance, contribute to the aromatic profile of essential oils and play a significant role in their therapeutic effects. They can range from uplifting and invigorating to calming and soothing.

The proportions and types of constituents in essential oil can vary widely based on factors such as plant species, growing conditions, geographical location, and extraction methods. This variability results in various aromas and therapeutic attributes in different essential oils.

The study of constituents is pivotal in aromatherapy and herbal medicine, as it guides the selection and blending of oils for specific purposes. Aromatherapists and practitioners analyse the composition of essential oils to determine their potential effects on the body and mind. For instance, an oil high in linalool, such as Lavender, is often chosen for its calming and relaxation-inducing properties, while oils rich in eucalyptol, like Eucalyptus, are valued for their respiratory benefits.

By understanding the constituents within essential oils, practitioners can create tailored blends that target specific concerns, whether alleviating stress, supporting the immune system, or promoting focus and mental clarity. Additionally, this knowledge enables the identification of oils that might be contraindicated for certain individuals or conditions due to their specific chemical makeup.

As scientific research continues to uncover the intricacies of essential oil constituents, the field of aromatherapy evolves, providing a more comprehensive understanding of how these compounds interact with the body and mind. This ongoing exploration contributes to developing new applications and approaches within natural healing.

In essence, comprehending the constituents of essential oils is akin to deciphering the language of nature's aromatic symphony. It empowers practitioners to harness the nuanced power of these oils and create blends that resonate harmoniously with the needs of individuals seeking natural remedies for their well-being.


Proportions for Creating Blends:

Delving into the realm of blending necessitates a comprehensive understanding of oils, combinations, uses, and techniques. Respect for the intricate art of aromatherapy underscores the importance of studying fragrances extensively. While experimentation with blends can be enjoyable, a balance must be maintained, as aromatherapy demands meticulous attention. Individual perceptions of scents guide the discovery of optimal dilutions over time.


Safe Application on the Skin:

Essential oils, absolutes, and extracts are highly concentrated substances, warranting cautious application to the skin. While oils like Tea Tree and Lavender can safely apply undiluted, comprehensive research is imperative. Familiarity with both positive effects and potential side effects is crucial before application. As each individual's sensitivities differ due to unique chemical compositions, patch testing is recommended before introducing new oils.


Promoting Safe Use and Expanding Knowledge:

Acknowledging the potency of essential oils, absolutes, and extracts as potent and potentially hazardous compounds is paramount. Due to their concentrated nature, strict storage protocols are advised to prevent access by children. Thorough comprehension of these substances, encompassing benefits and risks, is indispensable.

Approaching aromatherapy with sensitivity and awareness ensures a safe and rewarding experience, yielding the myriad benefits of these natural extracts. Further exploration and reading are encouraged to deepen one's understanding of these complex aromatic substances and their diverse applications.



In the captivating realm of essential oils, we unveil nature's aromatic symphony, where each extract and essence embodies a unique note. From the volatile beauty of essential oils to the refined allure of absolutes and the innovation of CO2 extracts, we explore a fragrant world rich in therapeutic potential. These aromatic treasures, extracted through meticulous methods, offer a glimpse into the intricate dance of nature's chemistry.

Navigating this aromatic tapestry demands respect and understanding. Dilution and careful application ensure the safe harnessing of these potent compounds. Through education and exploration, we unlock the secrets of constituents and blends, forging a harmonious partnership with nature's fragrant offerings. In this journey, we uncover not only the scents of plants but a pathway to holistic well-being, guided by the art and science of aromatherapy.


Mark Wilson

Tanah Essential Oil Company