What exactly are essential oils?
Essential oils are basically plant-derived compounds. The oils capture the scent and flavour of the plant, or its “essence.” Each essential oil has a distinct aroma due to the presence of unique aromatic compounds.
The oils themselves are highly concentrated volatile plant extracts obtained through distillation from a natural raw material of plant origin. There are several methods for distilling essential oils, including steam distillation, cold pressing, and expeller pressing.
The distillation method to be selected depends on the plant species and the material (which part of the plant). Generally, the most aromatic part of the plant is used; for example, rose oil is sourced from the petals of the rose, whereas citrus oils are derived from the rind.
How are essential oils made?
The majority of pure essential oils are extracted from plants using steam distillation.
This is how it’s done. First, freshly harvested plants are suspended over boiling water, and the steam extracts the plant’s oils. Then, the steam rises and is captured in a vessel before being pushed along tubing. After the stream has rapidly cooled down, it condenses back into water. And because essential oils and water do not mix, the two separate and the essential oil is collected.
Did you know that? The remaining water is a byproduct of this distillation. Some plants contain water-soluble aromatic compounds that remain in the water left over after distillation. Aromatherapists treasure these fragrant waters, which they refer to as hydrosols (or toners). Hydrosols are mostly used in cosmetics to moisturise skin in aromatherapy.
What are the benefits of essential oils?
These oils are well-known for medicinal properties, such as relieving muscle aches and pains, improving blood circulation, and relieving sinus congestion. Also, they have a positive effect on the skin; the ability of the oil molecules to penetrate deeper skin layers encourages cellular renewal, improves blood circulation, and aids in the treatment of acne, sensitivity, and eczema.
Moreover, they can also be used in household cleaning products as well as for general well-being in the context of emotional support and scent.
Some of the most popular ones, such as lavender and sweet orange, span multiple categories and can be used effectively in a variety of applications more than you can imagine.
Although essential oils have numerous amazing uses, if you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before using them.
So, why sustainable essential oils?
Since certain essential oils continue to be unsustainably produced from dwindling resources, such as Indian Sandalwood, Agarwood, and Rosewood, as well as Frankincense and Myrhh
Those are in high demand but are collected from limited resources in areas of the world prone to severe drought conditions. These five highly valuable essential oils, to be specific, are frequently the target of illegal poaching and trade.
Much of the farming required to produce essential oils takes place in less developed countries where labour standards are not always strictly enforced. To ensure that workers’ rights are protected and respected, we all have to look for Fairtrade or choose a brand that sources directly.
Additionally, with the increase in demands, the oils’ own sustainability is critical for biodiversity on our already threatened planet.
Aromatic plants contain anywhere from 0.005 to 10% essential oil, implying that a significant amount of plant material (typically 1-2%) is used to produce essential oils. This explains the disparity in essential oil prices per plant.
The essential oil industry is mainly relying on natural resources, which has raised concerns about sustainable sourcing as well as worker rights, climate conditions, pestilence, disease, and civil unrest; however, if sourced sustainably, essential oils are highly concentrated and, when used properly, can be both environmentally sustainable and economical.
How to find eco-essential oils?
Now, the big question: where exactly can we all find sustainable oils? The answer is simply here at Impakter Eco Marketplace. With a variety of eco-friendly products and a 10% discount from verified sustainable European brands, covering a wide range of needs such as ethical beauty products, skincare and more.
Here are some of our favourites
if you’re looking for any essential oils to keep your skin young and fresh. Try what we have recommended, these following products are all certified by a well-known and reputable organisation in Europe that guarantees that every purchase not only benefits you, but also creates a beneficial impact on the locals who produce them and supports transparency for a better world.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com— Featured Photo: Essential oils. Photo Credits: Christin Hume.