What exactly are Essential Oils?

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

An essential oil is an aromatic, volatile substance found within a plant. It is extracted from a particular part of the plant, like the flower, leaf, resin, bark, root, branch, seed or fruit. Within these oils, hundreds of organic constituents promote beneficial responses when applied or inhaled.

Essential Oils Market value to hit $15 billion by 2026: Global Market Insights, Inc. Essential Oils Market size is projected to register over 9% CAGR up to 2026, impelled by rapid demand for plant-based oils in the food & cosmetics industry.

I wish people came with labels just like my essential oils, that way I'd know if they were 100% pure or not...

Where do essential oils come from?

The major producers of essential oils are Brazil, China, USA, Egypt, India, Mexico, Guatemala, Morocco and Indonesia. All of them with the exception of USA are developing countries with low cost, peasant type economies. It is estimated that about 65% of world production emanates from developing countries. The major consumers are the USA (40%), Western Europe (30%) and Japan (7%). While the EU as a whole dominate world trade, exports and imports, no individual country from this bloc features in the list of major producers. Most of the major producing countries have large populations with huge internal appetite for essential oils.

My phone keeps autocorrecting the word 'all' to 'oil' - I think I may be in too deep!!!

How are Essential Oils Produced

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.

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.

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.

How do you use essential oils?

There are many ways to enhance your everyday life with essential oils. The primary applications include inhalation, diffusion and topical. 


This one’s simple. Simply open the bottle or place a few drops on a cotton ball and inhale. With each inhalation of an aroma, thousands of olfactory nerves in the nostrils send messages to the brain. 


Diffusion is the method of releasing essential oils into the air. Diffusion doesn’t deliver as concentrated an aroma as inhalation, but it does extend the aroma for longer periods of time. Diffusion includes the use of vaporizers, diffusers, candle lamps, air fresheners, room sprays and mists, and more. Many of these applications combine water and one or more essential oils.


Essential oils are readily absorbed through the skin, where they mingle with the skin’s own components. There are many topical applications for essential oils, including massage oils, face creams, body moisturizers and lotions, foot scrubs, body mists, and more. Because essential oils are so concentrated, however, they must be diluted with skin care oils, water, or other carriers before being applied directly to the skin.


Essential oils are highly concentrated and toxicity varies with each oil. Essential oils are the concentrated essences of the natural oils found in plants. When processed in a particular way, they are safe to use in cooking, much like you may use vanilla or almond extract.

Caution: Before cooking with essential oils its very important to consult with an experienced and certified aromatherapist. Firstly, not all oils are good for cooking and secondly they are so strong you must know how much to use. The results are amazing when used correctly.

Contact and connect with our certified aromatherapist. They'll be a blog devoted to cooking with essential oils posted soon, so check it out as a follow up to this one..


SHOP with us and enjoy beautiful pure essential oils from around the world

#cookingwithessentialoils #topicaloils #essentialoils #mrsnurse #aromatic #naturaloils

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