...I can perhaps add to this, Susan. Dr.
Peter Wilde started as a
pathologist, but he didn't like the smell (one of the ways he likes to
introduce himself). He has a long litany of credentials and he has
invented and developed products for many multi-national companies. He has
patented the process for making phytols, "phytonics" as he calls it. Some
of the benefits of his process (compared to steam distillation, hydrocarbon
extraction, chlorinated solvent extraction and super-critical carbon
dioxiide extraction) are that the process is highly energy efficient,
typically using less than 1% of the energy required to process by steam
distillation. Phytosol solvents used are not flammable, non-toxic, are not
ozone depleters (because they are never emitted from the phytonics process
plant. Being completely inside the sealed equipment, they are continually
The equipment needs no cooling water. It operates from a
single phase 13 amp domestic electrical plug socket (or small generator)
and is portable so that it can be taken to the crop and operated in the
field. Oils of excellent quality are produced in high yield at a low
capital and low operating cost. In this process, neither the raw material
nor the oils produced are ever heated above ambient temperature and
products are never exposed to high vacuum which strips out precious
volatiles from oil produced by other means. His experimental work in this
area has been primarily undertaken for flavour houses and pharmaceutical
companies. So, he can produce high product quality, economy and safety in
the environment. I don't know if we on this list have seen analyses from
any chemists out there comparing the differences (if any) between these
phytols and essential oils from steam distillation or other methods.
I have the opportunity to answer some questions which have been asked
recently about my fine natural phytol oils from plants - thank you for
1. Natural oils of any kind do not like to be
exposed to oxygen as it oxidises the
aldehydes and "double bonds". I take a great deal of trouble to keep oxygen away from my
The container should therefore be sealed to keep
oxygen out and the "volatile"
components in. Light is not good for natural oils, particularly bright sunshine. High
temperatures should also be avoided in my opinion.
My phytol oils are never heated to temperatures in excess of ambient.
2. Refrigeration keeps any deterioration down
to a minimum. The general rule with ANY
chemical reaction is that it "halves in rate for every 10 degrees fall in temperature".
Hence deep freezing slows down any deterioration by ten times or more. I keep my stocks
in the freezer.
In the freezer, most oils solidify, but they reliquefy
again as the temperature rises
back to ambient. My English Rose oil crystalises to beautiful fine glistening needles at
18 degrees C. My vanilla oil becomes cloudy at 10 degrees C (as the natural vanilin
crystalises out of solution).
3. Natural aromatic esters are compounds made
by the plant. Plants can join together
fatty acid molecules and a fatty alcohol molecules to produce an aromatic ester. These
esters contribute significantly to the fine natural aromas that we are all striving to
Hydrolysis of these natural esters (during the
"boiling" process of steam distillation)
or acid hydrolysis (during CO2 extraction) can cause rupture of the delicate natural
"ester bonds". The esters form a significant part of any natural aroma. I go to a lot of
trouble to prevent hydrolysis, my oils are not "boiled" nor are they exposed to acids.
Hydrolysis of an ester yields three peaks on a
gas chromatogram of a steam distilled
oil. From every ester moelcule you get - the residual ester, the hydrolysed parent
"fatty acid" and the hydrolysed parent "fatty alcohol". In my phytol oils you will only
see one peak = the natural un - hydrolysed ester.
4. I only ever saw one oil phytol oil deteriorate
- this was a small sample of Cistus
labdaniferus which had made and which I (stupidly) kept in a large bottle - with lots of
air in it. The oil oxidised (went rancid) as any oils would have done after three years
of this kind of treatment.
5. I now sell as much jasmine phytol oil as my
English rose oil. My Tuberose oil is also
very popular. Soon I will be offering Frankincense oil and Myrrh oil prepared from the
resins that I am importing from Somalia and Erithrea. Small samples have proved to be
very popular. Tulsi oil (from Ocimum sanctum = Holy Basil) and Melissa oil from Melissa
officinalis - lemon balm is also finding a useful clientele.
6. The largest molecules that I normally extract
are "C8 fatty acids" and "C6 x 3
7. My e-mail address is : email@example.com
and firstname.lastname@example.org. My
phone and fax number in UK is: +441 845 523 452.
I am Peter Wilde - responding to some of the questions you have asked.
Thank you for these questions.
First, Why don't my oils have "Teflon" residues
in them ? "Teflon" is made
by joining together lots of molecules (called monomer molecules) of
TetrafluoroETHYLENE. Each molecule of Tetrafluoroethylene has a "double bond"
which can be joined up to the next "double bond" of the adjacent molecule. This
way they get long strings of beads called a polymer. In this case "Teflon".
My extraction medium is "TetrafluoroETHANE" and
each molecule has NO double bond.
Think of a string of beads which has been chopped into individual units (beads).
None of the individual beads have double bonds.
So no Teflon can be present in my extraction medium
as it is made from
molecules without any "double bonds".
Second, I am about to start publishing analyses
of my phytol oils and compare
them with oils produced by other processes.
It is becoming crucial to be able to offer full analyses to my clients.
I don't like to call my oils "essential oils".
I believe that this term should
be reserved for oils which have been prepared by "steam distillation" and have
therefore been "boiled" at 100 degrees Celsius (cooked).
My "phytol" oils have never experienced temperatures
in excess of "ambient" -
usually about 20 degrees Celsiuis.
So it is a bit like comparing "marmalade" with
"freshly squeezed orange juice".
They are both delicious, but they are NOT the same.
Third, as far as hazard is concerned, I am happy
about this. If the original
plant doesn't hurt us, then neither will my phytol oils.
Fourth, the boiling point of my extraction medium
is MINUS 26 degrees Celsius
(about the same as the temperature in your freezer). It boils by itself at room
temperature and leaves no trace - of course. I do not have to heat to evaporate
my extraction medium, nor do I have to subject the oils to HIGH VACUUM to try to
rid them of the solvent (as is the case with "Concretes" extracted with hexane
and then from the "Absolutes" extracted from "Concretes" with alcohol).
The European Parliament have just agreed to allow
us to use this process for the
preparation of Food Flavour (Spice) Oil. They get the point too.
My extraction medium is very selective and extracts
only oils and not waxes,
triglycerides or high molecular weight fatty acid (as does hexane (gasoline).
My phytol oils do not (therefore) need to be "refined".
4.1 Definition of quality
How I would define it:
Materials from pesticide-free soil are the best quality! I know some
distillers working in these conditions. Sceptics could add this is
wishful thinking, pollution is spreading. I agree, but there are
still a lot of (relatively) unpolluted places in the world.
-they are certified organic:
This means that an independent third-party organisation
is controlling the
performed with hand tools or with machinery ...
The use of machinery is no problem IMHO; hand
tools are mainly used with wildharvesting.
More important is the exact time of harvesting. The distiller Henri Viaud performed some tests proving
that the components of essential oils could change depending on the time of harvest, not only
before or after flowering, but also if harvested in the morning or late in
Example: the content of thuyone in Salvia officinalis "Dalmate" is 26 % if harvested in spring and 51 % if harvested in autumn.
-distillation methods :
Freshly-harvested materials are used in distillation...
There are some exceptions where the distillation is easier if the plants are dry (for instance, dried peppermint will be easier to distill, and the distillation time will also be shorter).
Ylang ylang needs to be distilled immediatly, to avoid fermentation and loss of fragrance.
The seeds of anise and fennel, stored in good conditions, are easier to keep than the essential oils of them.
-distillation is performed at low temperature
and pressure; pure spring water and stainless
steel equipment is utilized for optimum cleanliness.
This will also prevent discoloration of the essential oils: lavender distilled in old copper alambics can turn into a red-colored essential oil.
(see FAQ, part I )
-The essential oils are 100% pure and not
in any way "extended" with cheaper materials
-relatively small volumes are produced - good quality essential oils will never be a mass-market line.
Following are some questions about "bulking", "co-distilling" and "blending", gathered by Sherill:
>>I understood that essential oils were the steam
distilled product of
>>herbage, when bulked or adulterated, they are no longer 'pure'.
Staycee's interesting message, and many of the
have gotten me thinking about the terminology of the exciting field
of eo adulteration - or eo engineering, as it's known among people
who want it done. (Thank you Dr Robert Pappas of The Lebermuth
Company Inc. for this useful term!)
I should clarify two things before we start:
1) I haven't forgotten Dr Kababick's admonishments that the term
"pure" has no legal meaning and is often applied to just about
2) None of the processes or products described is inherently
dishonest. There are whole industries that *want* these oils -
that's why they exist. The ethical question - which is different
from the legal question - is whether the oils are properly labelled
so that end buyers know what they're getting.
What is bulking? This term refers to two
- piling plants from different harvests into the still together - one
species, I mean, but grown in different places under different
- the post-distillation combining of oils from one or more species
The most common reasons for bulking are to make
cheaper and/or to make it conform to some standard, which may be
desireable from the viewpoint of the fragrance or flavouring
There are also rectified oils: oils that have
had natural components
removed from them: terpeneless oils, for example, and furocoumarin-free
oils. Another term for rectification is redistillation.
James P. Kababick, Director of Flora Research,
The redistilled oils may be in reference to rectified oils. Most
oils like orange and mint are rectified before purchase to remove
undesired levels of monoterpenes. This makes the oil more appealing
for flavor and fragrance work (broad definitions for simplicity).
They are also rectified to make them more desirable from a marketing
point as well. For instance, you can vacuum distill tea tree to help
remove some of the 1,8-Cineol and increase the level of
terpinen-4-ol. This makes the oil more valuable. However, does it
change the medicinal nature of the oil? I am not sure.
Folded oils are oils (usually citrus) that have
been redistilled a
number of times to remove more of the (usually) monoterpenes to make
the oil more desireable for the flavouring industry.
There are also oils that have had natural or synthetic
components added to them after distillation, to boost the level of
something that makes the oil more attractive for some purpose (most
often for fragrance/flavoring). These are sometimes called
Of course there are also oils that are just plain
synthetic. If you
see the term "fragrance oil", you can bet it's synthetic or mostly
There are also "extended oils": Usually these
are essential oils
(or blends) diluted in some sort of carrier oil.
There are also blends (aka synergies), which I
to mean something someone creates from various selected eo's and (if
that someone is a vendor) sells with pride.
Again: *All* of the products described above can
be sold with
pride, as long as they're sold under their right names to people
who have a use for them.
Which - if any - of them has any place in aromatherapy
is a huge
question that probably has as many answers as there are listmembers.
How do we know we're buying a good-quality essential oil?
-suppliers mentioning the above garantees
-Analyses made by HRCG
-If referring to a quality label: this should be issued by an
independent organisation. (There is none at present.)
What should be written on the bottles/labels?
-parts of the plant used
(You can have an essential oil made from the peel,
leaves or flowers,
for example from Citrus aurantium )
-Latin name :
This is the ONLY way to be able to understand someone from another country
talking about essential oils
(In some countries like mine we can mention this only on the price list:
If it's mentioned on the bottles, regulators can interpret it as
referring to a medicine that can only be sold in a pharmacy...)
Some herbs that produce essential oils can produce very different
essential oils, though they all have the same botanical name,
for instance basil, thyme or rosemary.
Thyme can contain a majority of the component linalol, or of thymol,
or of carvacrol... and thus have different medical actions, so it should be
specified: Thyme ct linalol)
-Country of origin:
It sometimes makes a big difference (Lavender - France, Bulgaria, USA...)
An essential oil obtained with solvents should
be described on the bottle as
An essential oil obtained in synergy with another
essential oil (for
instance Melissa officinalis, Lippia citriodora, Spirea ulmaria, Tilia
silvestris...) should be described on the bottle as a co-distilled
I've been brooding a lot about the recent pleas
for more information
about suppliers. I truly sympathise with people who are just
starting out and hope to purchase wisely; I also agree completely
with Jo's recent post about the constraints that keep listmembers
from making more blanket announcements about who has good oils:
- many people on the list have eo companies, and it's neither reasonable
to expect them to reveal their suppliers, nor polite for them to keep
- what makes an oil "good" is largely an individual question; and
- no one wants to be unfair - or to be sued! Just because I wasn't
happy with an oil I got from Company X, that doesn't necessarily mean
that *all* of Company X's oils are rotten.
So I wondered if it might be worth something to
someone if I
tried to describe some steps toward assessing new sources of oils.
I'm thinking here of *mail-order retail suppliers* - mail-order
because that's all I have any experience of, and retail because I
don't think it makes sense for people to start out by purchasing in
the large quantities that wholesale implies.
I've had some very helpful input from a couple
of friends on this
(thank you!), but it's still long and confusing and incomplete and
doubtless frequently debatable. I hope other people will add their
comments and insights (without nastiness if possible!), because there
are surely other points of view on all this.
Here goes nothing!
Step One: Locate Some Suppliers
Ask Michel Vanhove for the suppliers' list (email@example.com).
note of the signature lines in posts to the list from people whose
ideas make sense to you. Read the advertisements in publications
like The Aromatic Thymes. Check out suppliers listed in aromatherapy
books you like. Do a net search. If you want to ask the list for
recommendations, see if you have more luck asking "what experience
does anyone have of Company X" than asking "what companies
do you like", and please expect private responses.
Step Two: Make Sure It's a Retailer
If you're an end-buyer, just starting out, trying
to put together a
basic set of oils for home use and feeling unsure of what to do, then
I'm sorry, but you really shouldn't be buying wholesale. As far as I
know, wholesale *means* buying in [rather] large quantities, which is
at least risky when you aren't sure yet who you're dealing with or
what to expect from the oils.
There are lots of retailers on this list who don't
orders, who happily sell oils in small (even tiny!) quantities. I
will happily direct you to some of them if you contact me privately.
Step Three: Request a Catalogue/Price List
(I know I know - some people have websites instead
of catalogues, and
that's fine, except for people like me who can rarely get their
If you request a catalogue and don't receive one,
you can decide for
yourself whether to ask again. Some people with nice oils seem not
to be superefficient businesspeople. It's up to you whether or not
that bothers you. If you receive a catalogue plus a barrage of
high-powered hard-sell material, again it's up to you whether or not
that bothers you. (It bothers me.)
Step Four: Look the Catalogue (or Website) Over
What information is given about the oils?
If it doesn't say they're
pure, natural, etc., then I (perhaps radically) assume that they
*aren't* all pure, natural, etc.
Besides that, I want to see *at least* one of
the following - the
more the better:
- botanical name
- country of origin
- chemotype (where appropriate)
- distillation method
- what part of the plant is involved
Do they offer different "versions" of any oils,
such as geranium
*and* geranium Bourbon, neat *and* liquid benzoin, ylang ylang extra
*and* III, organic *and* "standard" lavender, etc? This isn't a
"must", especially with small suppliers (like me!) but it would
indicate an awareness of various users' various needs and
Look at the prices. If they seem very high
or very low compared to
other people's, you can make up your own mind about whether that may
be justified. Essential oils aren't cheap, so if someone's offering
(for example) jasmine at $10 an ounce, either you've located Santa
Claus, or it isn't pure, natural jasmine absolute. But *within
reasonable limits*, prices vary and aren't a surefire indication of
Step Five: Ask Questions
"What questions?!" It depends. If
you know nothing about the
supplier, you may want to start by asking whether any of the oils are
extended with anything. Some companies use the phrase "100% pure
and natural X" to mean "100% pure and natural X diluted in 100% pure
and natural jojoba or something" (which is apparently legal), but
sometimes they'll admit this if you use the term "extended".
If the botanical names, countries of origin, distillation
etc., aren't listed in the catalogue (see Step Four), ask about them.
This is all stuff every dealer should know about their oils.
You can also ask if they have their oils tested
for purity, and/or if
they buy from suppliers who have their oils tested. Tests are
expensive, and some people question their relevance to aromatherapy,
so if the answer is "no" you have to decide for yourself what that
means to you. The most commonly-given reason for not having tested
oils is that the supplier *knows* his/her sources are trustworthy and
wants to keep the prices down. I'd think twice about buying from
anyone who told me that tests don't prove anything (they *can* prove
something about purity) (which is different from quality), who
doesn't know whether their oils have been tested and/or who doesn't
seem to have heard of the notion of testing oils.
After that: Does the supplier seem to know his/her
stock? Not every
company keeps all the oils they list in stock, they just order it
from their supplier when someone orders it from them. This isn't
necessarily wicked or evil - but I personally feel *very* bothered
when someone is selling something they don't seem to have ever seen
or smelled. Questions that can help you assess this might include:
- How does your Lavender X compare with your Lavender Y?
- What color is your Oil X?
- questions about the olfactory quality of the oils you're interested
It can also be useful to ask some questions that
you know the answer
to. This implies doing some research. I find Julia Lawless's
Encyclopedia of Essential Oils a very useful source of questions of
this ilk. The point is not to debate with anyone, but rather
to learn more about who you're dealing with by hearing how they
And ask some questions about the aromatherapy
uses of the oils. If
you're just starting out, I would think you'd prefer to deal with
someone who knows something about aromatherapy. (If this sounds
strange, you've been very lucky! There are really *lots* of
suppliers who know less than you do, I promise!) The supplier may
well feel hesitant to offer medical advice (which would be illegal in
most places, unless they're licensed medical practitioners), so don't
ask for too many details:
- Is Oil X suitable for aromatherapy use?
- Would Oil Y be safe to use in a massage?
Again, you don't have to debate about anything
- my main point here
is that by asking questions you can learn more about who you're
dealing with. Of course, if it's a large company, it might not be
fair to expect every person who answers the phone to know every oil
intimately - but if that bothers you, you'll probably prefer to work
with a smaller company. And an honest "I don't know" doesn't
necessarily mean the company is no good!
Step Six: Order Something
Start small. I know you may be excited and
want everything at once,
but it can be risky to go whole hog on your first order. See if you
get what you ordered, within a fair amount of time, in good
condition. Again, not every talented aromatherapist is a brilliantly
efficient businessperson, and again that may or may not bother you.
Obviously, if there's something blatantly amiss (eg you got the wrong
oils, or something broke or leaked badly) you'll want to check out
whether the company's way of rectifying it is what you deem fair and
Otherwise, it's time to start checking out the
oils themselves - but
that, I think, is food for a separate message!
From Sherill Pocieha, Dyndelf Aromatics, Poland
Here are a few hints for purchasing oils and trusting your suppliers:
if any company offers oil blends and makes fantastic, unbelievable medical
or otherwise claims on their products (such as treating the new incurable
strains of bacteria, certain oils applied neat restoring sight or hearing,
resolving severe immune disorders, skin cancers and other miraculous
properties such as removing wrinkles or cellulite, etc) a BE VERY WARY.
If any company says "you will die" if you don't
use their products BE VERY
If any company says to use untested oils undiluted
on the skin, BE VERY
WARY. They obviously will not tell you they are using these, it is up to you
to find out which ones have had formal testing. You may be surprised.
If any company offers Biblical quotes as back
up that oils were used way
back then, BE VERY WARY. Only infused oils were available during those times
and the properties, even if they were really in the Bible, would have been
If any company cannot or will not answer your attempts to question where
their back up studies are and where they obtained the info on these
ridiculous claims, BE VERY WARY.
If any company has MD's (or other charismic/religious
their sales force promoting their products BE VERY WARY. Dr's need to make a
living too and are losing a lot by us taking care of ourselves now. Folks,
who unfortunately don't know any better, tend to believe the MD's (or other
charismic/religious personalities) because "they should know", but this is
not always the case and people are generally followers of charismatics, BE
For one, the FDA says you cannot make claims on
products without being able
to back them up or have sufficient documentation. They will shut you down.
Can they supply the proper info? - not just the owner saying this works based
on observation, we need scientific clinical trials proving efficacy.
For two, You cannot legally say "lavender does this and that" and "by the
way, here is a bottle for $9.95". You are then making claims (and
proscribing, treating, diagnosing- We know only MD's can do that.:) Even if a
MD is the one selling the product, you must question where he was trained in
aromatherapy (it must be besides the owner of the company) and did he check
out the evidence before joining the sales program or is he just giving the
Hope this helps sort out some of the confusion for some of you.
4.5 What is HRCG?
Good question! to be answered by a quotation from
James Kababick (not
meant to exclude other listmembers active in this field):
(GLC stands for "gas liquid chromotgraph" and
HRGC stands for "high
resolution gas chromotograph" - both are pretty fancy pieces of lab
GLC and HRGC are somewhat different in sensitivity. Most of the early
information on oils was gained via GLC but we now have HRGC (only a matter
of years old) that will tell us about the composition to the parts per
billion level. The use of this technicque is effective for almost all
essential oils and offers the most valuable information about the purity.
With instruments such as this and HRGC/MS, you can tell about pesticide
levels as well.
Some oils do require UV/VIS Spectroscopy for analysis,
however, with the
advent of new high temp. columns for GC's, that is going by the wayside as
The only other tests that I could suggest would
be analysis for metals (yes
they can be in steam distilled essential oils) and perhaps the basic
With the use of HRGC, I help protect many of my
clients from reselling oils
that ended up being adulterated. It is very common to obtain a good
analytical sample and an adulterated shipment which is why batch lot testing
is so important.
Perhaps if an aromatherapy company can not afford
to do that kind of
testing, then they should buy oils from a supplier that does and hope for
the best that they are not getting rooked.
As far as purity goes, there are degrees of purity.
If we look deep enough
into an oil, we can find some impurities. However, there are common
adulterants, contaminants and other such things that occur so often that
they should be part of any quality control testing of essential oils.
I seem to recall reading that some oils would make bad carriers because
they would block the pores and not allow the eo in. But after following
part of the thread on whether eo's enter the skin at all I began to
wonder at the validity of the carrier oil statement.
Any response to that statement?
Why do some "recipes" use several different carrier oils? If a "recipe"
calls for two or three different carrier oils would the blend lose it's
effect if I used only one carrier oil instead of three?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
First I will tell you that in my opinion most
any answer is going to be
somewhat conjecture. This is at least the case (in part) with my answer
because there just simply is not enough research in this area. Also there
are many "reasons" I know that come from experience.
Mixing of various carriers will change the consistency
and feel of the oil
blend used. EX: Grapeseed is a lighter feeling oil than Olive Oil. "Feel"
is a personal preference.
I will sometime mix a blend of veg./nut oils to
create a synergy from the
carrier itself ... oil constituents in one carrier are enhanced with
addition of others / compliment or add a new component to the mix. Adding
Vitamins A.C.E. to preserve / increase nutrients or say ... Evening Primrose
Oil or Borage Seed Oil to increase the amount of GLA's with one that lacks
them or has low amounts.
As for Absorption ... this is an ongoing thing.
Vegatal oils (IMHO) only go
through the first few layers of the skin ... some do this better than
others. There MAY be a possibility that at least some Vegetal / nut oils
can assist EO's to at least get closer to the blood supply, lets say as in
the case of fractionated coconut oil. (conjecture for sure).
Carrier oils in general are used with essential
oils because they allow us
to USE the essential oils on the body itself, decreasing risk of
sensitization, irritation and acting as a vehicle that "fixes" the scent of
the EO's too. "Fix" = allows the Eo's to be less volatile, "hang out
longer" so we can enjoy them longer.
It is also believed that different oils have different
(therapeutically). Ex: Arnica Flower Infused Oil, Castor oil and Olive oil
may have some anti-inflammatory benefits.
One MUST remember that pure Cold Pressed Oils
of any sort CAN, Do and Will
go rancid AND can carry fungal spores, viruses, bacteria. This is very
important when talking about "healing skin conditions", or using on open,
weeping skin, or on wounds / cuts / abrasions. As with *anything*, "cold or
expellor pressed" can be somewhat of a "marketing gimic". (sigh) I wish
*I* had more marketing savvy and could also then live with myself.
In my opinion, having too much, not enough or
substituting one oil vs.
another (speaking of carriers here) will not make or break a massage blend
recipe. As for clogging pores .. the debate continues, Jojoba vs
fractionated coconut vs Biotone vs others. If I am concerned about 'blocked
pores' or making a blend for any facial skin blend, I tend to now go with
the fractionated coconut oil as I have experienced the way it IS quickly
absorbed beyond the first dead cell layer of the skin and tends to be the
least greasy of all carriers I have experienced thus far. Biotone runs very
close to fractionated coconut oil. I use both or one when concerned with
treating acne / oily skin. When treating dry, prematurely aged, etc. I
will use Borage seed, fractionated coconut, carrot seed and some others ...
with the main component being the frac. coconut.
Since the skin cannot absorb the nutrients found in the unrefined vegetal
oils anyway, you may benefit more by eating them! Also, the unrefined oils
may sound "good and natural", but remember that natural is not always better.
Unrefined oils contain all sorts of undesirable things including viable
fungal spores that can grow when in contact with water (such as in an open
wound, broken skin). IMO, it is much safer to use the refined vegetal oils on
Sylla Sheppard -Hanger
I appreciate this info, Sylla. But, it is both confusing and troubling to me!
First off, I'm just starting an AT home study course and the instructor
(a pretty well-known author) will ONLY use unrefined carrier oils. I had
not thought about the unrefined oils carrying undesirable things like fungal
spores!! So this is rather troubling. The confusing part to me is that I
was under the impression that refined oils were usually "refined" by doing
some kind of solvent extraction process? Isn't this exactly what we wish
to avoid with the essential oils, with the exception (at least for some
people) of the absolutes? This would mean that we are either left with
mixing our pure EOs in an unrefined oil with who knows what kind of yucky
things in it or mixing our pure EOs into a oil where solvents have been used
to extract the yucky things! If this is wrong, please let me know. I'm
just trying to learn.
Good question! Sorry to shake you up, but its the facts. And, worse, even
well known aromatherapy instructors/authors can be wrong (including me!) but
this is true about the fungal spores and other irritant things in there based
on adverse reports to the RIFM, IFRA (industry source for this type info).
I'm not sure how the refining process occurs, (and no time to check it out!)
but perhaps Jim Kababick or another expert can help us out here. Surely they
would not be offered for food use if they were containing solvents. I just
know more adverse skin reactions have occured due to the above than with the
refined. (And I certainly will NOT give up my jasmine due to it being solvent
extracted. You have to decide where to draw the line!)
In some cases you may have to do your own proper
investigations and you may
find out your teacher is wrong. Being well known in the field, or an author,
is NO guarantee for accuracy of facts. There are lots of aromatherapy books
out there that repeat each other's errors. There are also lots of experts out
there who mean well but have not checked out the facts for themselves
(including many MD's) who promote dangerous and unlikely cures and uses for
EOs based on sales/marketing techniques put together by the CEO of an
Do your own research from reputable acceptable
sources, like the food, drug,
cosmetic, dermatological journals before you believe everything someone tells
Check it out for yourself and never stop questioning. Hope this helps. Please
let me know if you have more questions.
A few reasons for blending EO into carriers:
1) to decrease any chance of irritation by diluting the EO
2) to increase the surface area that 15-20 drops could cover (would be
impossible to massage those few drops over an entire body).
3) the emollient properties - due to the fact that they do absorb into the
outer dead cell layer (stratum corneum) and help reduce moisture loss. This
is a major reason for using with a carrier.
4) the carriers also reduce evaporation of such a volatile molecule - by
holding on the skin, the "reservoir effect" is created increasing chances of
therapeutic effect of EO on skin.
What are macerated oils?
Example: maceration of St John's wort in olive
You simply harvest the flowers of St John's wort and add them to a
carrier oil, in this case olive oil. The jar is filled with flowers and oil and exposed to the sun for up to 3 weeks (depending on the maceration). A lovely red-colored macerated oil is the result, with a lot of uses for the skin.
Following are some images taken after a maceration period of three weeks
in organic olive oil of
the St John's wort. The maceration is now ready to be pressed and filtered.
(Images copyright Michel Vanhove)
Can anybody tell me the best type of jar to maturate herbs? Is it best to
use glass or plastic? Is clear ok to use? Any help with this would be
Actually, you always want to use glass when macerating herbs. There are two
schools of thought here; one that says to macerate in a warm, sunny place
for up to 30 days, and one that says to macerate in a warm place, but not in
direct sunlight. I macerate vinegars in the shadier places; and oils in
sunny places. If you are macerating in alcohol (tinctures), you will do
better in warm, but again out of direct sunlight.
End of Part II
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