Most people who are interested in using essential oils for their home or on their body will simply purchase the oils already in a container. They wont worry too much about how essential oils are made, as long as they smell great and work well.
However, the way that essential oils are made is quite interested and if you ever feel like making your own, you will probably wonder what to do. Here is a quick look at the way that essential oils are extracted.
Steam Distillation: Steam distillation is the most popular and quickest way that essential oils are made. When you see essential oils made from steam distillation, you will see that it is highly effective and economical. When steam distillation is used, the plant material is placed in a cooker that resembles a pressure cooker, this is called the sill.
The plant is then steamed as pressurized heat and water passes through the material. The heat will then cause the oil in the plant to rupture and evaporate. The vapor from the oil is passed through a pipe and cooled until it condensed back to the oil form. It sounds quite complicated, but with the right tools, it is not. You will find most of the oil you buy made this way.
Cold press: A cold press is another way that essential oils are made. In fact, if you like to make your own essential oils, you can try this method. It works basically as the name suggests. The oil is extracted by pressing the material in a press. The oil and liquid will separate over time. This is not the way all plant material can be handled when making essential oils, but it works best for large plant material such as fruit rinds or large plants. It does take longer for this method to work.
Maceration: Maceration wont create your pure essential oils, but instead will give you infused oil, which simply means the oil isnt in its purest form. When maceration is used, the plant material is soaked in another type of oil, usually vegetable oil, then heated and strained. Macerated essential oils are widely used for massages.
Solvent Extraction: This is another very popular method for deriving essential oils from plant material. A type of hydrocarbon is added to the plant material to help dissolve the oil. When it is filtered and concentrated by distillation, the resin will be left over. At this point, the resin is mixed with alcohol to continue the oil extraction process.
While it is not the best way to extract essential oils, it can be used. The oils may be left in the purest forms and some residue from the extraction method may be left over. A new solvent extraction method has recently been developed using carbon dioxide to get the oils ready for use. This seems to be quite effective and is being used more.
As you can see, there are a variety of methods to extract essential oils for use. If you are serious about making your own essential oils, then do further research on these methods.
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