Aromatherapy: True aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of pure essential oils through direct application (topical) or inhalation, diffusion, indirect inhalation, and hot water vapor, humidifiers or vaporizers. Aromatherapy is meant to bring about feelings of wellbeing.
Carrier Oil: A carrier oil is a vegetable oil that is used to dilute essential oils, protecting the skin and often allowing for better absorption. Examples of carrier oils include avocado, jojoba, sweet almond, apricot, olive or coconut. Dilution by carrier oil also prevents waste due to excessive application. Be sure your carrier oil is of high quality.
Essential Oil (EO): EO’s are highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic plant extracts. Some have medicinal purposes, while others have purely cosmetic qualities. Information on specific essential oils can be found on our Essential Oils page.
Extraction Method: The method by which essential oils are separated from the plant. Common extraction methods include distillation, expression and solvent extraction.
1. Steam Distillation
The vast majority of oils are extracted using steam distillation. During this process, steam is introduced into a distillation chamber, which contains the plant material. The steam breaks down the plant tissue, causing it to release its essential oil in a vaporized form. The vaporized essences, along with the steam and other substances, pass into a pipe through the condensers. The vapors return to liquid form and are separated from the water, where they’re captured as essential plant oil.
2. Solvent Extraction
Solvent extraction is used when the odorous properties of delicate flower and plant material would be altered or destroyed by steam or water distillation, or when a plant—for instance, rose absolute or jasmine—contains very little oil, making steam or water distillation impractical.
Solvent extraction produces a concrete, which is refined into an absolute. To produce a concrete, the plant material is gradually saturated with a solvent. The solvent dissolves the plant’s constituents, including essential oils, fatty acids, and waxes. After the solvent is vacuumed off, the remaining constituents make up the concrete.
The essential oil is extracted from the other constituents with alcohol. The fatty acids and waxes are not alcohol-soluble, so they’re left behind. A secondary distillation then removes the alcohol, leaving the absolute oil behind.
3. Expression or Cold Press
Cold press, also known as expression, is a mechanical method of pressing citrus peels, such as lime, lemon, bergamot, orange, and grapefruit, to remove the essential oils. The expression method uses pressure to physically squeeze the oil from the plant tissue. This method is practical for citrus because of the unique oil-bearing structure of citrus fruit rind.”– Aura Cacia
GRAS: “GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe, an FDA term. When an essential oil is labeled GRAS, it’s important to understand that this usually is understood to mean it is able to be taken internally, at very low concentration, as in peppermint. GRAS does not guarantee purity, as synthetic ingredients can be approved. Please do not ingest essential oils before consulting your physician.
Neat: Neat refers to an undiluted drop of liquid essential oil. Some essential oils may be applied directly to the skin neat. Most require the use of a carrier oil. A neat drop of oil is what a recipe calls for when they say add “10 drops of lavender” – that is 10 drops of lavender from the essential oil bottle it is stored in.
Note: Note refers to how strong a scent it is and how long it takes to evaporate. Base notes evaporate the slowest, taking days sometimes. They are the scents that appear a few hours or even days later after blending. Middle notes evaporate in closer to 4 hours. They’re considered the heart of the blend. And top notes are usually the strongest scent, but only hold their fragrance in a blend for about one to two hours.
Organic: “Organic” is one of the few regulated labeling terms. “Natural” is not a regulated term and can mean many different things – or nothing at all.
Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic… Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances. – USDA
Synthetic: Synthetic means it is an artificially produced substance created in a laboratory. Synthetics are made to mimic pure products, and used to reduce the cost of production.