Archive for the ‘extraction methods’ Category

Expeller Pressing

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Last, but certainly not least is the extraction method of expeller pressing.  This is really good for squeezing the essence out of rind fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, etc.  It is a tried and true method and has been used for thousands of years.  One way that this was done by hand, was to peal the fruit. The rind was then squeezed to render a small amount of essence and juice.  After a while, the essence floats to the top and then it’s skimmed off.  Obviously, this is quite a laborious task.  It is amazing citrus essential oils are not more expensive than they are!  Today there are machine methods of doing this, however, the highest quality oils are still hand-made.

You can do the hand-made version in your own kitchen if you like.  Simply buy a new garlic press and place citrus rinds of one type of fruit in there and press.  You must make sure that the fruit is organic and not been sprayed with pesticides, dyed or coated.

Let me know your results with your home-made expressed essential oils!

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Co2 Extraction: “The New Kid on the Block”

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction is the newest from of essential oil extraction.  So how does it work?

When carbon dioxide is put under extreme pressure, it turns into a liquid.  This liquid acts like a solvent and extracts  the plant’s essence.  When the pressure is released, the carbon dioxide returns back into a gaseous state, leaving no residue behind.  Although the yields of this process are high, and it is extremely clean, these products may not be used because of their extremely high cost.

Because plants utilize CO2 in their living state, this process is very compatible with plant material and won’t damage it.  At lower temperatures, the end result resembles a product of steam distillation.  It is light and delicate.  The higher the temperature, the more waxes, plant particles and oils are extracted and it becomes more like an absolute.

CO2 extractions are very potent and have high therapeutic properties.  They make it easier to handle resins and gums, and give us essences from plants that cannot be steam distilled.

Tell us about your experiences with CO2 extractions!

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Solvent Extracted Absolutes

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Today, most of the absolutes that aromatherapists use are made through solvent extraction.  Chemicals such as hexane,  acetone, or ethanol are use to extract the flower’s essence.  A concrete made from fats, waxes, essential oils and other plant parts are treated with one of these chemicals  to make an absolute.

Absolutes are very concentrated and should only be used in small quantities.  The three main absolutes used in aromatherapy are Rose, Jasmine and Neroli.  Although many other flower absolutes are worked with in the art of perfumery.  Absolutes are generally more viscous than essential oils and sometimes will harden at room temperature.

Because absolutes may contain residues of the chemicals used during the extraction process, they should not be used by people who have chemical sensitivities, or others wanting to only use pure products.

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Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Enfleurage is an extraction method you don’t see very often anymore.  Largely because it takes too long to produce the end result.  And this is unfortunate for us.  Up until a few years ago Aroma Vera was still selling Jasmine Enfleurage, and it’s scent was heavenly.  So light and delicate!  Unlike the solvent extracted Jasmine Absolutes we are now forced to use.

So what exactly is an Enfleurage?  I’m sure a lot of you never even heard of it before.

An enfleurage is an extraction method used for flowers that are too delicate to be steam distilled.   Thousands of  flower petals were placed on sheets of glass that were covered with pig fat.  The flower’s essence was then absorbed into the fat.  After a few days, these flowers were replaced by fresh ones and the process started once more.  This was repeated every few days, until the pig fat was saturated with essence.  Once saturated, the fat was cleaned and then diluted in alcohol.  It was shaken for 24 hours to separate the essential oil from the fat. And then the essential oil was bottled.  Needless to say, to make an enfleurage today would not only be time consuming, but also costly!

The end result of this method would be a highly concentrated Absolute.

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The Process of Steam Distillation

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Most essential oils are made through the process of steam distillation.  This is accomplished by placing leaves, twigs, berries, petals and other plant parts  on a rack or grid inside a vessel.   Water is brought to a boil underneath it, so that the steam can rise up and gently break down the plant’s cellular structure. This then releases the plant’s vital essence as vapor.  The vapor and steam are  directed into a pipe that then goes  through a cooling tank.  After the cooling down period, the gasses  return to a liquid form.  Being lighter than water, the essential oil is easily separated.  The remaining water is called a hydrosol and can also be used  for medicinal purposes.

The quality of the steam distillation process is just as important as the quality of the original plant that was used. Timing and temperature are crucial in creating a high quality product.  This is why some steam distillation is done in the fields where the plants are picked.

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