Education Essential Oils

‘Types’ of Essential Oil

There are a few different 'types' of essential oil that are sold for use in your products and burners. We sell both Pure Essential Oils and Absolutes, also commonly used are CO2 extracts and Organic Extracts.

The difference between the types is the way that they are produced. The oil that we refer to as 'Essential Oil' is stored in special cells in aromatic plants. They are commonly extracted by a process of steam distillation. This involves pushing high pressure steam through the plant from below, when it cools in a pipe above the plant material the extract changes back to liquid (water & oil) and is collected in a separate tank.

There are a few different ‘types’ of essential oil that are sold for use in your products and burners. We sell both Pure Essential Oils and Absolutes, also commonly used are CO2 extracts and Organic Extracts.

Essential Oils

The difference between the types is the way that they are produced. The oil that we refer to as ‘Essential Oil’ is stored in special cells in aromatic plants. They are commonly extracted by a process of steam distillation. This involves pushing high pressure steam through the plant from below, when it cools in a pipe above the plant material the extract changes back to liquid (water & oil) and is collected in a separate tank. 

Oil is lighter than water and so it rises to the top, and is taken off. 

As well as distillation essential oils can be extracted by expression – also known as ‘cold pressed’. This technique is when the oil is ‘squashed’ from the fruit or skin. For essential oils this is only usually used with citrus peel oils such as Lemon Peel Oil. 

Oils extracted using distillation and expression are referred to as ‘Essential Oils’. 

Absolutes

Absolutes are essential oils extracted using an organic solvent such as hexane. The extraction is then distilled and leaves a mixture referred to as ‘concrete’. The aromatic parts are extracted into ethanol, once the ethanol has evaporated the oil (absolute) is left.

The advantage of absolute is that it produces a concentrated fragrant material. The process is often used for materials that are very delicate and/or expensive to allow the highest level of oil. The low temperatures used can prevent damage to the fragrant compounds. 

Common absolutes are Rose, Jasmine and Orange Blossom (Neroli). Both Neroli and Rose are also available as steam distilled essential oil however because of the smaller yield and greater loss of raw material during this process they are higher in price when produced this way. Jasmine is too delicate to steam distil and so is not produced that way.

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