There is more to essential oils than just a pretty scent. I use essential oils for their therapeutic properties at Hands And Paws-Reiki For All, in my mobile grooming business, as well as personally for my pets and myself.
What Are Essential Oils?
They are a hydrophobic liquid that contains the volatile oils that are distilled from the bark, berries, flowers, leaves, peels, resin, rhizomes, seeds, stems, or wood of living plants. Essential oils feel oily because they are often diluted in a carrier oil such as almond, apricot kernel, citrus, or grapeseed.
Most essential oils are produced by steam distillation. The ‘waste’ water of the steam distillate process is called hydrosols. Nothing is wasted. For tougher materials, such as citrus peels, mechanical expression or cold-pressed methods are used. Solvent extraction is used for more delicate flowers. Solvent extraction is a complex process which usually leaves a trace residual solvent in the essential oil.
The How’s, Why’s, and Uses of Essential Oil.
The plant’s essential oil governs their immune system. It is the plants blood. It navigates that plant through the insects, fungus, viruses, and bacteria in their environment. Different essential oils have their own unique physical and emotional therapeutic properties such as anti-diuretic, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, decongestant, detoxifying, expectorant, insect repellent, uplifting, and revitalizing, etc. We absorb these essential oils into our or the pets bloodstream by contact, inhalation, or ingestion. In addition, essential oils have many household uses.
Contact with soaps, massage oils, shampoos, lotions, perfumes, cosmetics, added in bath water, and other spa products.
Inhalation is breathing in incense, air fresheners, aromatherapy diffusers, and candles.
Ingesting tinctures made by a medical or other licensed professional.
Household use in trash cans, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and drains. Many essential oils have cleaning and disinfecting properties.
Store essential oils in dark glass colored bottles as heat and sunlight degrades them.
Price and Available Options
There are many considerations in factoring prices.
1. Quality and/or rarity of the botanical.
2. Country of origin.
3. Amount of oil that can be distilled from the botanical.
4. The standards of the distillery, as well as size. Larger companies can reduce operating costs through volume.
5. Organic sourcing. I only buy organic essential oils as I feel it is counterproductive to use them laden with pesticides and fertilizers.
Type of oil also affects price.
Some companies try to pass off fragrance oils as essential oils.
Fragrance oils are synthesized in a lab, cheaper to produce, and have none of the therapeutic properties.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are the only oils that can be ingested. They are more expensive to produce than their non-therapeutic grade counterparts.
Hydrosols are a water-based version of the essential oil. It is a byproduct of the distillation process. It was discarded until it was discovered that it still retained the therapeutic properties, minus the Terpenes. Cats are unable to metabolize Terpenes, which is why essential oils are dangerous for them. Most hydrosols are a safe alternative for cats.
Absolutes are a very concentrated essential oil. It is an involved process and will likely have trace amounts of solvents. They are very expensive and are not ingestible.
Blends are a combination of several essential oils designed for a particular issue.
Tinctures are therapeutic grade essential oils in an alcohol base.
As with any product, there is a danger of an allergic reaction. Do a patch test before applying topicals and use caution when ingesting or administering tinctures. Improper dosing of tinctures can result in mild to severe medical emergencies. In addition, improper use of topicals and inhalants cause damage to eyes and lungs. Consult with your medical/veterinarian professional before treating any medical condition.
Cats and pregnant woman or dogs should not use essential oils. However, most hydrosols are safe for cats.
Use products according to manufacturers or your professional’s instructions. Never use essential oils undiluted. Though many products are packaged already diluted in carrier oil. Read the label to ascertain.
Essential oils are flammable. Use aromatherapy diffusers according to manufacturer directions. In addition, they damage plastics. Do not apply essential oils directly to the plastic components of household appliances.
The aromatherapy industry is NOT regulated. Buyer Beware. Read labels carefully. Key words to look for are “made with” or “includes”. Those products may contain very little essential oils. Ingredients listed on the label as an item such as blueberry, clove, cinnamon, apple, etc are a fragrance. Essential oils are identified by their Latin name or includes the word oil, such as cinnamon oil or oil of cinnamon. It is also up to the manufacturer to determine if the product is cat or dog safe.
Essential oils are part of my day-to-day life. They complement all I do. They can augment your life when used in the manner for which they are intended.