ESSENTIAL OIL QUALITY – part 4

Modified Chemical PictureThere are  methods with which to change, increase or replace essential oils.

  • Synthesizing: Chemically recreating the aroma in a laboratory. Then you have an essence, not an essential oil. In my earlier entries I have spoken of the synergy in an essential oil and how important it is when we are using it for therapeutic/pleasurable reasons. A synthetic essence is nothing but an aroma. As far as making you feel better, it is only because the aroma is pleasurable…it stays in the nose. Synthetic aromas are often  sweet and slightly overpowering.
  • Cutting: Mixing a more expensive essential oil with other, cheaper, essential oils, or synthetic aromatics,  to create larger amounts of oil for economic purposes. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)will sometimes be mixed with Lavandin (Lavandula fragrans). Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis) will be mixed with Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). These oils are of course useless for aromatherapeutic use.
  • Standardizing: In industry (perfumery/toiletries/foods/pharmaceutical) the oils always need to be exactly the same, which they by nature are not, and this system was created to ensure a homogeneous aroma every year: The main 1 or 2 chemicals present in the essential oil are usually the ones that give the overall aroma.  When the proportion between them stays the same, the aroma will stay the same. Therefore certain standards are given to essential oils which decrees the percentage of the main constituents within the essential oil. If the percentage is too high, some is taken out. If the percentage is too low, some will be added.  Sometimes synthetics might be added, but mostly isolated chemical-extractions are used. Sometimes chemicals are extracted from the oil and used as they are, an example is Menthol that is extracted fromPeppermint (Mentha piperita). A much standardized oil is Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) where the main constituent is  cineol (60-85%).  The commercial standardization is 98% cineol.

All plants do not contain essential oils. A wide misunderstanding is that everything that has a scent has an essential oil, this is not so.

Apple, Lily of the Valley, Lilac, Peach, Strawberry….the list is long…DO NOT CONTAIN ESSENTIAL OILS. These are all synthetic aromas created chemically in a laboratory. They will do nothing but smell.

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