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Essential Oils: Properties and Extraction

Essential Oils: Properties and Extraction


Essential oils are concentrates of phytocomponents, extracted by distillation or cold expression from various parts of the plant (flowers, leaves, bark , root, resin, etc.).

They possess unique aromatic and therapeutic properties, which make them popular ingredients in various fields such as aromatherapy , cosmetology, herbal medicine and perfumery.

Obtaining and properties

Essential oils are obtained from aromatic plants such as lavender , rosemary , peppermint , lemon , geranium , chamomile , etc.

Each of them has different properties that can be used for a wide range of physical and mental health benefits .

Unlike vegetable oils , essential oils are not fatty , and are therefore very volatile .

They generally have a yellow color but some can be blue, red or even green.

The essence of plants has multiple functions since they use it to protect themselves from the sun, from insect attacks, fight against fungi, heal themselves, and communicate.

The main properties of essential oils are :

  • anti-infectious
  • antiviral
  • antiseptic
  • antibacterial
  • relaxing
  • analgesic
  • analgesic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antifungal
  • circulatory
  • healing
  • anxiolytic
  • antispasmodic ...

    They can help heal the body and mind .

    Extraction Methods

    There are several methods for obtaining essential oils , however the most commonly used are steam distillation and cold expression .

    • Steam distillation is the most common method.

      This involves passing water vapor through plant materials, resulting in the evaporation of essential oils .
      The essential oil and water vapors are then condensed to separate the essential oils from the other components of the plant.

    • Cold pressing is primarily used to extract essential oils from citrus fruits such as oranges , lemons , and grapefruit .

    This involves pressing the zest from the skin of the fruit using a press to extract the essential oils . This method is considered to be gentler than steam distillation and allows more of the properties of essential oils to be preserved.

      There are other methods such as maceration , solvent extraction , enfleurage , but they are less common because they are chemical which alters the quality of the oils.

      Another popular method is supercritical CO2 extraction .

      With this method, supercritical CO2 is loaded into a container containing the plant materials and subjected to high temperatures and pressures for a certain period of time. Volatile components of plant materials, including essential oils, diffuse in supercritical CO2. The CO2 is then cooled and decompressed back to a gaseous state, leaving the essential oils in the liquid .

      This extraction method is considered to be more effective than steam distillation or cold expression to obtain essential oils . It makes it possible to obtain volatile components which are difficult to extract by other methods. It is also considered to be more environmentally friendly because it does not use chemical solvents or chemicals .

      This method is more expensive and requires special equipment to be carried out.


      It is important to note that not all essential oils are obtained the same way and each extraction method has its advantages and disadvantages.

      We advise you to favor oils whose extraction is done with water vapor or supercritical CO2 in order to avoid traces of chemicals .

      Finally, it is necessary to understand that essential oils are very concentrated and must be used with caution . If you have health problems or are pregnant, it is recommended to consult a professional before using them.

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