What are essential oils? Essential oils are tiny sacs of concentrated plant material found in the leaves, flowers, bark and other parts of plants. Have you ever run your hand through a rosemary plant and then smelled your fingers? What you are smelling are the tiny sacs of oil, or essential oil, located in the leaves of the rosemary plant. They are so simple, yet quite complex at the same time. An absolutely amazing gift from the Earth that has the ability to heal physical ailments, emotional challenges and lend spiritual support in times of prayer or meditation.
Where do they come from?
Plants. Okay, so most of you probably already know this. Most plants are steam distilled to obtain the oil. I had a teacher explain the process very simply. It was a huge AHA! moment for me! Steam distilling plants to obtain the essential oils is like steaming broccoli. A pot of water boils under the plant material and the steam rises moving through a cold pipe. This coolness separates the oil from the water yielding two products. Essential oils and hydrosols. Hydrosols are amazing in their own right, but a huge topic for another blog. Different parts of a plant are used depending on which part will produce the most amount of oil with the best quality. Sandalwood is steam distilled from the trunk of the tree. Lavender, from the flowers. Ginger, from the roots.
What are essential oils exactly?
Essential oils are a rich, complex symphony of all the goodness a plant has physically and energetically. They are very concentrated and strong. As little as one tiny drop can stop a headache, ease cramps and muscle spasms and so much more.
Are they oily?
No, and I wish whoever came up with the name “essential oils” would have chosen something different than “oil” because the first impression people have is they are oily and will stain your clothes or leave an oily residue. Most of them will leave a wet mark on clothes initially but then vanish within a couple minutes.
How can I use them?
- Put 3 or 4 drops in your dish water
- Add 3 or 4 drops to your dishwasher
- Add 2 drops to a cotton ball and put in your dryer
- Put 5 drops in your bath
- Boil a pot of water and add 3 drops to cleanse and freshen your home
- Add 1 drop to a bowl of hot water and steam your face
There are endless ways to use essential oils. Adding them to shampoo, body wash or other personal care products is effective too. Just make sure you have a product that isn’t chock full of harmful chemicals. Wholefoods and other natural food stores are a good resource for buying truly natural personal care products. Read the labels and educate yourself on ingredients that have been shown to be harmful. Wholefoods has a list of unacceptable body care ingredients that is a good place to start.
Quality Quality Quality
Without it the essential oils can not work their magic and heal physically, emotionally or spiritually. Unfortunately in America there are quite a few essential oils that have been cut with other man made chemicals to make them more cost effective and marketable.
Things to look for when purchasing essential oils
- The botanical or latin name of the essential oil is on the label. This is usually located just beneath the common name. For example, the common name for lavender is lavender and the botanical or latin name is usually Lavandula angustifolia.
- The country of origin is on the label
- There is a batch number on the bottle somewhere
- The essential oil is batch GC/MS tested to ensure purity and quality.
- There should be a variable price range. Rose costs over $100 for 1/2 ounce whereas Lavender is around $20 for 1/2 ounce. This is because it takes 60,000 roses to produce 1 ounce of oil. Lavender requires far less plant material to produce the same amount.
What is GC/MS Testing?
GC/MS stands for Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometry. Many substances are tested for chemical analysis with these machines including wine and essential oils. It is the only way to know that an essential oil has not been adulterated with synthetic chemicals. If any pesticides, herbicides or other synthetic chemicals were present in the oil they would show up on this test too. Every component of the essential oil is calculated allowing aromatherapists to blend for optimal therapeutic healing. For example, Lavender is calming and relaxing due to it’s high content of a component called linalool.
There should be a variable price range. Rose costs over $100 for 1/2 ounce whereas Lavender is around $20 for 1/2 ounce. This is because it takes 60,000 roses to produce 1 ounce of oil. Lavender requires far less plant material to produce the same amount.
Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years healing physical ailments and emotional challenges as well as supporting spiritual growth. With over 200 plants that are made into essential oils the aromatic and healing possibilities are endless.
For GC/MS tested to essential oils and quality aromatherapy products visit our online shop.
How do you use essential oils? What is your favorite essential oil? How have they helped you?