When I started making soap, I wanted it to be completely natural so when it came to fragrance, essential oils were the natural choice. However, even though they are natural they are very powerful oils and should be treated with respect.
I love working with essential oils and I can always feel their aromatherapy benefits when I am making my products. They can lift your mood, promote relaxation or make you feel energised.
There is so much to learn about essential oils, and here are five fascinating facts about essential oils.
Firstly, what are essential oils and where can you find them?
In very simple terms if you have a herb garden and rub a sprig of rosemary between your fingers the scent you can smell is an essential oil. The tiny droplets of oil are very volatile which means that they easily evaporate infusing the air with a wonderful aroma. Whenever I am out in the garden, I can never resist the temptation to rub sprigs of both lavender and rosemary. It’s a wonderful way to gain an instant and fresh aromatherapy ‘hit.’
Do all plants contain essential oils?
Not all plants contain essential oils and it is not fully understood why. It is known that the fragrant qualities of plants have a role in attracting or repelling insects. Nature is clever! You can’t obtain strawberry essential oil for example and if a supplier does offer such a fragrance it will be completely synthetic.
What part of the plant contains essential oil?
Aromatic oils are found in all parts of the plant including the seeds, wood, bark, needles, root, leaves, flowers, fruit, berries and resin.
What quantities of plants are required to make essential oils?
It varies with each plant as some contain more essential oil than others. For example, it takes one tonne of rose petals to produce 300g of rose essential oil. That’s a very small amount of oil compared to the weight of petals and just one of the reasons why the price of rose essential oil is so high.
Why are they called essential oils?
An essential oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the "essence of" the plant's fragrance. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as rose oil.
What are your favourite essential oils?
Please remember that essential oils are very concentrated and powerful oils and should not be used at home to treat serious medical or psychological conditions. If you are pregnant it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor or midwife before using essential oils.