Extracting, Blending and Using Essential Oils
Method of Extraction
Essential oils are extracted from plants by a simple kind of pressure known as expression or by distillation. Most oils are extracted by stem distillation. This involves steaming the desired parts of the plant in order to break down the wall of the cells that store the essence. The released essence, combined with steam, passes to the cooling tank, where the steam condenses to a watery liquid, with the essential oils sitting on the top. The oil is skimmed off and bottled and the remaining liquid is sometimes used as flavor or herbal water.
Creating a blend
Essential oils can be used alone or blended together. Oils are blended for two reasons – to create a more sophisticated fragrance, or to enhance or change the medicinal action of oils. Blending changes the molecular structure of essential oils. When they are blended well, the therapist can create a “synergetic” blend where the oils work in harmony and to greater effects. To create a blend, the therapist considers not only the symptoms and underlying causes of the patient’s particular problem, but also the individual’s biological and psychological make-up, and personal fragrance preference. For therapeutic purposes, it is usual to mix 3-4 oils together.
If you want to make a blend at home, choose two or three oils, which you believe, compliment each other. In general, oils from same group (Citra, floral, spicy etc.) and those with similar constituents blend well. Using the proportions detailed, mix a blend using small amounts of the strongest scented oils and more of the lighter fragrance. Be guided by your own likes and dislikes – a good blend for you is often the one that you find most appealing.
Before creating the right blend, you must choose the right base oil. To use oils on the skin, choose light cold pressed vegetable oils such as grape seed, sweet almond or sunflower oil as the base oil. For hair, choose a more penetrating oil, such as olive oil and jojoba. Where you need slightly astringent oils, try hazelnut. Add the essential oil to the base oil a little at a time. Shake the bottle well and rub a little on the back of your hand to test the scent. Adjust the quantities until you achieve the blend you want. Add about 5% wheat germ oil to preserve the blend. Store blended oils in labeled dark bottles, out of children’s reach, and use within three months.
How to store Essential Oils
Essential oils should always be kept/stored in dark, well stoppered. They must be kept in glass bottles away from light and heat in order to maintain their potency.