What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are very much a part of our lives, knowingly or unknowingly.
Surprised?! Well, believe it or not this is true.
Many times there is a particular scent when we crush a mint leaf between our fingers or peel an orange. Have you ever wondered what that fragrance is? In general we can attribute the scent and flavor in spices and herbs and the perfume in flowers and fruits to the essential oils present in them.
In the case of the orange for example, the minute droplets of essential oil is contained in tiny pockets in the outer peel which are very volatile and easily evaporate, infusing the air with the smell.
While it is found in abundance in such fruits, not all plants have these essential oils in such large quantities. In the case of rose, for example, the essential oil content is so less that it takes almost 1 ton of petals to produce few hundred grams of rose oil.
These oils are the core of a plant, often described as the ‘life blood’ or ‘hormone’of the plant . Huge quantities of the plant part are required to extract a small quantity of oil and hence they are extremely concentrated.
They play a role in attraction or repulsion of certain insects or animals and also in transpiration and other life processes of the plant, to protect it from disease.
The oils are found in various parts of a plant, including the seed, root, bark, flower, leaves, resin etc. Each part of the same plant can produce different aromatic notes. One of the best and most commonly known examples of this is the orange plant. The orange fruit peel produces the citrus fresh, orange oil. The orange blossom produces the floral citrus, Neroli oil while the leaves and twigs produce the Petitgrain oil.
Thus we can generally say essential oils are the highly concentrated aromatic oils that are extracted from various parts of the plant.
What are the applications of Essential Oils?
A very common question that people ask us is.. What are the applications of essential oils? Where are they used? Are they perfumes that can be directly sprayed on the skin?
Phew! That’s a lot of questions in one breath.. Let’s tackle each of these questions!
Since time immemorial, fragrance has been an integral and major part of the lifestyles of people belonging to ancient civilizations. At that time, the perfumes were made with pure essential oils. In today’s world however, with the rise in natural oil prices, synthetics have replaced a lot of natural oils. But, essential oils have their uniqueness and thus, are in great demand and continue to be used in perfume blends even today.
Pure essential oils are therapeutic in nature and have a healing effect on the mind and the body. There are many massage blends that are made to head aches and pains in the joints, bones, muscles etc. Many oils have an amazing effect on the skin and hair.
Example lavender and orange oil are great for the skin and rosemary oil works wonders for dandruff problems. Most oils even have a direct impact on the moods of people, example, chamomile oil has a calming effect on the mind while lemongrass oil has a very refreshing effect on us.
So in general essential oils are used in the following ways :
As diffuser oils (single oils or blends) to fragrance a space.
In creams and other cosmetics
In massage oils
In hair and other application oils
In Perfume blends
As healing oils in alternative healing methods
Various spiritual practices
What are the precautions while using Essential Oils?
It is to be noted that essential oils are highly concentrated and must be used in very small quantities.
It is not be directly applied on the skin unless directed by a professional. These are not perfumes!
All oils must be diluted using carrier oils such as Jojoba oil, Sweet almond oil, coconut out etc. The general percentage of essential oils in an application blend is between 3-5 % of total blend.
It is also important to perform a patch test before use, to check for any allergies or sensitivity.
If any irritation, stop using the oil/ product immediately.