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Introduction to Essential Oils

Introduction to Essential Oils


The use of essential oils began long before our time, in Ancient Egypt. Their use was sacred, as medicine was linked to a belief in magic and symbols. At that time, essential oils were used in several fields: medicine, perfumery, cosmetics and embalming.

The Egyptians practiced a crude form of distillation, using maceration and wringing. Today, Egyptian civilization is considered the creator of essential oils. It influenced many cultures and civilizations, bringing its medical know-how to Greece, the Roman Empire and the whole Mediterranean basin.

How are essential oils made today?
Essential oils are aromatic substances extracted from plants through a process of steam distillation - or cold pressing (citrus). Both methods can be used to produce oils, but steam distillation is more commonly used. Plants are hand-picked and harvested when their essential oil concentration is highest. The method chosen depends on the plant used and the desired quality of the essential oil.


Cold pressing involves pressing the fruit or leaves to mechanically extract essential oils, known in some cases as "essences". Pressing does not produce hydrosols.


For steam distillation, plants are packed into a still. Water vapor passes through them, entraining the volatile aromatic compounds in a gaseous state. The loaded steam passes through the swan neck to a cooling coil immersed in cold water.

Distillation then produces a distillate which settles by density difference, separating into essential oil and hydrolat (or floral water). The hydrolat contains a small amount of essential oil.



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