Essential Oils 101: Understanding the Basics
Essential oils have been used for centuries for their therapeutic and aromatic properties. From promoting relaxation and wellness to enhancing skincare and home environments, essential oils have found their place in our daily lives. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fundamentals of essential oils, helping you grasp the basics of what they are, how they are extracted, and their various applications.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile liquids that are extracted from plants. These oils contain the “essence” or characteristic fragrance of the plant from which they are derived. They are typically found in various parts of the plant, including the flowers, leaves, stems, roots, and even the bark.
How Are Essential Oils Extracted?
There are several methods of extracting essential oils, each tailored to the specific plant and the part of the plant being used. Here are a few common extraction methods:
- Steam Distillation: This is the most common method for extracting essential oils. It involves passing steam through the plant material to release the aromatic compounds. The steam and essential oil vapor are then condensed and separated.
- Cold Press or Expression: Citrus oils, like orange and lemon, are typically extracted through this method. The oil is extracted by mechanically pressing the oil-containing glands found in the peels of the fruit.
- Solvent Extraction: Some delicate plant materials, such as flowers, are too fragile for steam distillation. Solvent extraction involves using a solvent, like hexane, to separate the essential oil from the plant material.
- CO2 Extraction: This method uses carbon dioxide under high pressure to extract essential oils. It is often used for delicate and heat-sensitive plant materials.
How to Use
One of the most popular uses of essential oils is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy harnesses the power of essential oils to promote physical and psychological well-being. Here’s how it works:
- Inhalation: Some benefits of inhalation/breathing in EO’s: STEAM INHALATION: respiratory/congestion, expectorate mucus, soothe dry nasal passages. INHALATION: relieve emotional stress, relieve stress and anxiety, reduce agitation and irritability, support depression, trauma, and grieving. This can be done with direct inhalation of the bottle, oil in your palms, or diffusing.
- Ingestion: Ingesting oils should always be done with caution — just like there is a time for medicine, essential oils should only be taken when needed. I highly recommend working with an aromatherapist when using oils internally. Let me know if you have questions or need help!
- Topical Use: Applying essential oils topically (or on the skin) may help with reducing inflammation, enhancing wound healing, treating fungal/ bacterial/viral infections, supporting healthy skin, itch relief, healthy scar formation, preventing wrinkles, slowing the process of aging support detoxification and so much more. When applying essential oils topically I suggest diluting the oils (according to the chart below) into some carrier oil and making your own roller ball/bottle.
Top Essential Oils and Their Uses
- Lavender: Known for its relaxation properties, lavender oil can help reduce stress and promote better sleep. It’s also great for soothing skin irritations.
- Peppermint: Peppermint oil is invigorating and can help relieve headaches, improve focus, and aid digestion.
- Tea Tree: Tea tree oil is renowned for its antibacterial properties and is often used to treat acne and minor skin irritations.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil is excellent for respiratory support. It can help clear congestion and improve breathing.
- Lemon: Lemon oil is uplifting and can be used for its refreshing scent as well as for its natural cleaning properties.
While essential oils offer many benefits, it’s essential to use them safely:
- Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin.
- Perform a patch test to check for any adverse reactions.
- Keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets.
- Some essential oils are not safe for pregnant or nursing women, so be sure to do your research or consult with an aromatherapist.
Essential oil brands we use and love
- EDEN’S GARDEN: the best-smelling blends/synergies
- HOHM: great blends, aesthetic bottles, well-made diffusers
- JADE BLOOM: lots of essential oil education
- MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS: a rustic organic brand with lots of other good products like teas etc
- PLANT THERAPY: great prices and blends/kits for families
- REVIVE: amazing prices, dupes for the popular brands
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN OILS: DIY/usage videos on their socials
- SIMPLY EARTH: the one for DIY lovers & sub box lovers
I just launched a series of guides on essential oils and specific concerns. Think your one stop shop for all things essential oils. These guides are packed with every single thing you need to know + recipes and tons of uses. There are also some freebies in my store too. Shop here
Essential oils have a wide range of applications, from improving physical and mental well-being to enhancing our daily lives. Understanding the basics of essential oils is the first step in incorporating them into your daily routines and benefiting from their amazing properties. Whether you use them for aromatherapy, skincare, or home cleaning, essential oils can be a natural and powerful addition to your lifestyle.