Essential Oils play an important role in people’s daily life. Not only are they anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral, but they can be used to relief pressure, calm and ease people’s negative emotions, and reduce people’s anxiety and fear. So what are essential oils and how to extract them from plants?
What are Essential Oils?
Essential Oils are regarded as volatile aromatic extracts, which are from plant materials, such as leaves, flowers, grasses, roots, peels of fruit and other plant materials. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines the essential oil as “a product made by distillation with either water or steam or by mechanical processing of citrus rinds or by dry distillation of natural materials.”
How to Extract Essential Oils from Plants?
A lot of plant materials can only produce a little essential oils. It’s necessary to choose a proper extraction method in order to get a better quality of essential oils.
1. Steam Distilled
It is a common method for extracting aromatic essential oils. It can be said that 95% of essential oils can be extracted by steam distilled. It mainly releases and separates essential oils by steam, and then separates essential oils and pure dew by utilizing the insoluble property of essential oils.
2. Steam Diffused
The steam diffused is similar to the steam distilled. But for the steam diffused, the steam is introduced from the top of the distilling tank and the liquid tank is at the lower part, which is in contrast with the method of the steam distilled. The steam diffused has a better extracting effect and higher yield for wood, rhizome and barks.
3. Cold Pressed
Most of citrus essential oils, such as sweet oranges, grapefruits and lemons, can be extracted by cold pressed. The reason is that the high temperature of conventional distillation may damage a great number of natural components.
4. Solvent Extracted
The solvent extracted method makes use of chemical solvents to extract and separate essential oils, which can almost retain the plant’s natural aroma without damaging some fragile components by heating. But a small amount of chemical solvents may be left, which is known as absolute rather than essential oil.
5. Supercritical CO2 Extracted
It is the latest high-tech extraction method. By utilizing temperature and pressure, CO2 can turn from gas state to liquid state so that the essential oils can be extracted and separated. It can retain the natural components of the plant to the greatest extent, but it’s not cheap.
6. Low Temperature and Low Pressure Steam Distilled
It comes from traditional method of steam distilled, but uses the sealed stainless steel distillation equipment. The steam temperature can be lowered and the oil storage cells can become easier to rupture with the lowering of internal pressure. So more essential oils can be obtained without damaging the components of essential oils.