Cultivation and location of the plants

1.

An important factor for the quality of the essences is the method of cultivation.               

Originally essential oils were extracted only from wild growing plants.

 

These were distinguishable by their subtle and at the same time full aroma which even a layman could easily recognize.

 

2.

To create the finest aromas, farmers today for example grow cultivate Lavender from different specymen collected in wild nature together in one field (“population Lavender”).  However, there always will remain   elements distinguishing an oil from another such as:

                                               * Environment

                                               * Cultivation

                                               * Harvest

                                               * Distillation

                                               * Storage

 

Adulteration

 

The most common methods of adulterating essential oils are the following:

 

*  Dilution with vegetable carrier oils, alcohol and synthetic oils (which are cheaper). For example:  

     Vanilla abs., Benzoin abs.

 

* Blending with cheaper oils of the same plant but from another country. For example: Bourbon Geranium with Geranium from China , Moroccan Myrtl with Myrtl from the Balkans

    Sibirian Fir with Chinese Fir...

* Mixing with cheaper essentials oils of the same plant but extracted from a different part of the plant. For example:

    Clove bud with Clove leaves

    Cinnamon bark with Cinnamon leaf, Angelica root with Angelica leaf....

 

* Dilution with cheaper essential oils of plants of similiar species. For example:

    Thyme (thymus vulgaris) with wild Thyme (thymus mastichina)

    Lavender with Lavandin

    Ceylon cinnamon with Chinese Cassia

 

* Adulteration with cheaper essential oils of different plants or of species with a similiar name. For example:

    East Indian with so called “West Indian Sandalwood” (Amyris)

    Lemongrass with Litsea

    Patchouly with Eucalyptus

    Verbena with Lemongrass

    Frankincense with turpentine

    Rosewood with Ho oil

    Melissa with "Indian Melissa" (Lemongrass etc.)

    Clary sage with Lavender

    Mandarin with Orange

    The so called 'white' Thyme  with turpentine...

 

* Mixing with isolated natural or (semi-) synthetic compounds. For example:

    Lemon with citral and Orange-terpenes

    Peppermint with menthol

    Eucalyptus with cineol

    Geranium with geraniol or citronellol

    Patchouly with clove bud terpenes

    Rosemary with camphor

    Thyme with thymol or carvacrol

    Cardamon with terpenyl acetate

    Elemi with Orange terpenes

    Clary sage with lynalyl acetate or synthetic linalool

    Clove bud with eugenol.....

Types of essential oil production

1.

Most of the essential oils are produced by

steam distillation.

The standard method for the production of citrus essential oils is cold pressing.

The usual method for the production of oils from very fragrant flower plants like Jasmine, Tuberose, Champaca etc. is extraction.

 

Unfortunately, the distiller or producer is often more concerned with profit than with the correct treatment of the plants. High steam pressure and quick distillation are more cost-effective, but rarely create a fine and precious product. This is why organic farmers distill their plants very carefully with the slower method of low pressure steam distillation.

 

Many plants require a longer time to distill in order to extract the entire spectrum from “head to tail” of active substances (i.e. the slow boiling sesquiterpenes) in the essential oil.

For this reason these slow low pressure methods yield a richer, therapeutically more effective essential oil.

 

2.

Very often questionable techniques are used to extract essential oils, like the dangerous extraction of black birch or cedar oils through heating (“pyrogénation”). Other methods like the use of poisonous chemical solvents, methylchlorine or benzene, for example, bring excellent volume, but there is a danger that carcinogenic substances or chemical poisons leech into the oil. Fortunatly, the use of benzene for the production of aromatic absolute has been banned years ago by the aroma industry.

 

3.

Other methods are vacuum distillation or molecular distillation. These methods are used to filter certain

compounds from essential oils or to eliminate these before they appear in the end product. Some of these methods reduce the boiling point of the essences in the plants by using high pressure and no steam to extract their aromatic components. These processes enable certain fragrances to be selectively emphasized in the end product.

 

4.

Hydrodiffusion is another variation of steam distillation. The steam is injected from the top of the still instead of being induced from the bottom. The distillation time is shorter and the process often allows for a better penetration of the steam into the plant material. Hydrodiffused oils sometimes tend to have a slightly subtler note.

 

5.

C02 extraction uses carbon dioxide to extract the aromatic substances from the plants. This method allows a low “cold” treatment of the plants because the oil can be extracted at temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). In many cases the end result is a very subtle, “round” aroma, particularly suitable for the flavour industry. However, the energy of these oils mostly does not show the same results as found in distilled products.

 

6.

Enfleurage could be compared to certain aspects employed in maceration, but is done in a slightly different way.

Glass plates in a frame (called a chassis) are covered with highly purified and odorless vegetable or animal fat and the petals of the botanical matter that are being extracted are spread across it and pressed in. The flowers are normally freshly picked before so encased in their fatty bed.

The petals remain in this greasy compound for a few days to allow the essence to disperse into the compound, where the then depleted petals are removed and replaced with a fresh harvest of petals.

This process is repeated until the greasy mix is saturated with the essence, and needs to be repeated a couple of times until saturation is achieved.

When the mix has reached saturation point the flowers are removed and the enfleurage pomade - the fat and fragrant oil - then washed with alcohol to separate the extract from the remaining fat, which is then used to make soap.

As soon as the alcohol evaporates from the mixture you are left with the essential oils. This is a very labor-intensive way of extraction, and needless to say a very costly way to obtain essential oil and is nowadays only sometimes used to extract essential oil from tuberoses and jasmine.

 

Essential oils are the essence of plant life. Each plant has its own scent profile, that is, its individual character and its particular healing power. Plants containing essential oils store the forces of accumulated sin energy - life energy which is basically joy of life – in a hihgly concentrated form. Dealing with essential oils therfore means drawing on a rich source of natural vitality.

Different essential oils and their yield

1.

It may be a surprise to believe that 1 ml of Turkish rose oil cost as much as a 100 ml of orange oil.

 

There are many variables that are responsible for price discrepancies. Cultivation methods, harvesting, as well as different methods for deriving the essential oils require different amounts of time, effort and costs.

 

 I.e. throughout time many essential oils like the Indian Nard or Jatamansi have only been available to very few people. It was considered so  powerful and precious that it was used in the older times for the  annoinment of kings and priests. Those oils were equal in value to gold  because they were so expensive to distill and difficult to transport.

 

Even  today 10 000 kgs. of  Lemon Balm plants are needed to distill 1liter of pure Lemon Balm oil. By comparison only 30 kg of Eucalyptus leaves are needed to make 1liter of Eucalyptus oil. One of the most expensive oils, Rose oil, requires 2-4 000 kgs. of Rose petals to make 1kg of Rose oil.

 

2.

Farmers know each plant has a specific amount of essential oil as an "energy reservoir" that it uses to metabolize and adapt to certain weather conditions. For example the lack of sun reduces the amount of essential oils that will be distilled from

 

the plant. Harvest may vary each year according to the weather, conditions of the soil, and the distillation process used.

 

3.

Every plant which contains essential oils will not necessarily be distillable through  steam distillation because the profit would be too little. Jasmin is one example: Its oil can only be extracted through a complicated procedure involving solvents. The end product is called "absolute".

Origin, cost and names

1.

The origin of the oil can provide important information about its quality. But numerous oils also have wrong names which often leads to confusion on the side of the customer. For example:

 

* There is no relationship between the Atlas-Cedar from Morocco and the Texas-Cedar. The Texas-Cedar is definiteley not a cedar but a Juniper.

* The American "Cedar leaf oil " stems in reality from a Thuya (thuya occidentalis) and again has nothing to do with a Cedar. 

* Spanish sage oil (salvia lavandulifolia) is not the same as "salvia officinalis", the true Sage, and quite distinct in its chemotype and fragrance as well.

* Marjoram oil from Spain, also called “wild Marjoram” is actually a special kind of Thyme oil (thymus mastichina) and is not the same as the true Marjoram"  (majorana hortensis), which is mainly distilled in France or Egypt.

* Spanish Lavender oils are usually the wild growing Spike Lavender containing cineol and are not the same as the true Lavender oil (lavendula officinalis) which contains more esters. The botanical name tells the truth.

 

2.

Many essential oils like Rosemary, Basil, Lavender, Thyme, Sage, Eucalyptus etc. have subspecies which offen exhibit very different fragrances and effects; this phenomenon is called “biochemical polymorphism”

 

* for example Eucalyptus dives or Peppermint Eucalyptus has very little in common with ‘true” Eucalyptus (i.e. eucalyptus globulus), which itself resembles more such oils as Niaouli or Cajeput.

*Niaouli (linalol) is more reminiscent of Rosewood or Ho oil   than ”true” Niaouli (cineol type)

* Even a beginner is able to distinguish the fragrance of the Thyme geraniol from Thyme alpha-terpineol or Thyme thuyanol etc.

 

3.

Standardized essential oils for the industrial use  cannot withstand the scrutiny of a trained aromatologist. Usually they will not appear in price lists under a specific botanical name. The reason for this is that those oils are produced either from different species of lesser value, from mixed crops or from mixing with synthetic components.

 

To obtain a specific reproducable note of fragrance or an identical active ingedient: this remains the major target of the industrial approach.

 

The more exact the description of the essential oil, the less risky it is for the buyer to purchase an unwanted product.

 

A company who can inform its customers about its oils shows that it is better connected to the plant source and therefore the chances of adulteration are minimized.