What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils, also known as volatile oils or sometimes ethereal oils, are concentrated aromatic oils derived from plant sources. Depending on the particular oil, the part of the plant that may be used may be the blossoms, wood, leaves, rind, seeds, or the root.
Essential oils are complex, most being made up of dozens or even hundreds of chemical components. They can play various roles in nature, serving plants in a myriad of ways — such as attracting insects, repelling pests and parasites, providing anti-bacterial and anti-fungal protections.
Most essential oils are extracted by the process of distillation. See the article on how essential oils are obtained for more information on oil extraction processes. Despite their name, essential oils are not oily.
Essential oil uses include aromatherapy and medicinal, as fragrances in perfumes, colognes, cosmetics, massage oils, bath products, incense, cleaning products, and sometimes certain oils are used commercially for flavoring food and drink. Their scents can be very therapeutic and can have differing effects on the mind, emotions, and body.
When using essential oils on the skin, a carrier oil should be used. Some common carrier oils are sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, peach kernel oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and soya bean oil. Supplemental carrier oils include avocado oil, borage seed oil, calendula oil, evening primrose oil, jojoba oil, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, rose hip oil, sesame oil, St John’s Wort, and wheatgerm / wheat germ oil.
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