Education

What is a ‘Carrier Oil’?

Carrier Oil is a term used by aromatherapists and massage therapists for a vegetable oil as they are used to 'carry' essential oils onto the skin. This is because essential oils can't be used directly on the skin, so you need to use something to dilute them before applying to the skin.

The scientific term for these oils is 'fixed oils'. They are called this because unlike distilled oils (like essential oils) they are not volatile, which means they do not evaporate with heat. Although not generally used in aromatherapy, some fixed oils are also animal derived such as emu oil (from the Emu bird).

Carrier Oil is a term used by aromatherapists and massage therapists for a vegetable oil as they are used to ‘carry’ essential oils onto the skin. This is because essential oils can’t be used directly on the skin, so you need to use something to dilute them before applying to the skin.

The scientific term for these oils is ‘fixed oils’. They are called this because unlike distilled oils (like essential oils) they are not volatile, which means they do not evaporate with heat. Although not generally used in aromatherapy, some fixed oils are also animal derived such as emu oil (from the Emu bird). 

Sources

Carrier/Fixed oils are usually extracted from a particular part of a plant. The most common parts are the seeds or kernels.

Fixed oils can also be animal sourced such as emu oil or fish oils. 

Uses

Carrier/Fixed oils can be used for a variety of reasons in massage and cosmetic production:

Firstly they can be used as a natural massage lubricant. Carrier oils are excellent for use in massage, allowing a therapist to move across the skin without painful friction. The oils also provide great nutrients for the skin helping with skin regeneration, moisturisation and conditioning.

Extraction Methods

Cold Pressed

Also known as cold expeller pressed. This process is mechanically pressing the oil from the plant/seed/kernel. The temperature is kept below 120 degrees to protect the quality of oil.

Expeller pressed

For some oils it is not possible to use the cold press technique to extract oil. This is the same process as cold pressed but at a higher pressure. The high pressure means that  the temperature will be higher than 120 degrees, and so this is referred to as expeller pressed. For some oils this technique is used because it is necessary in order to extract oil, for example Grapeseed. It can also be used for a greater oil yield, making processing cheaper.

Solvent Extracted

 

Refined or Unrefined

 

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