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How Are Essential Oils Made?

Ever wonder how essential oils are created? There are ancient ways and modern ways, but it all starts naturally, with some part of a plant.

There’s amazing power inside every plant. However, that power is locked in and not readily available for our use. The bark, seeds, fruit, or other parts of plants have to be extracted and processed. Only then can they become the essential oils we use in a home diffuser like Stadler Form’s Jasmine. Here’s how it all works.

Step 1: Distillation of the plant

Most essential oils are extracted from plants through the distillation method. Of course there are different ways to initiate the distillation process, but all of them use the power of steam.

Steam is produced, carrying with it the natural chemicals of the plant from which the essential oils will be derived. Therefore, it’s important to capture that steam.

Step 2: Condensation

The steam is captured by collecting it in a condenser. There, it’s cooled down until it forms a “distillate” in liquid form. There will be a top layer to that distillate, and that’s your essential oil.

Alternative Method: Solvent Extraction

Some essential oils (Jasmine or Vanilla, for example) are so delicate they can’t withstand the rigors of steam extraction. In these cases, the “solvent extraction” method is used. It’s a more expensive method, and most aromatherapy advocates tend to prefer methods that don’t involve chemicals, but for some oils, extraction is unavoidable.

The device for solvent extraction has a series of perforated trays, upon which the blossoms of the plant are loaded. Then the blossoms are subjected to a solvent (typically this is “hexane” but sometimes benzene or chlorure of methylene) which pulls out all extractable matter.

Then that plant material is filtered to remove the solvent, leaving only a waxy substance which contains the essential oil. That essential oil is further extracted using heat and added alcohol. Finally, it’s cold filtered to remove any remaining waxy substance.

There’s also a less popular Carbon Dioxide extraction method but we’ll leave that for another day.

Alternative Method: Cold Pressing (Expression)

If an essential oil is derived from citrus, it’s very often extracted via the cold press method, which for fruit oils is considered superior to the steam method. Cold pressing is a mechanical process whereby the rind of the fruit is scored by a machine. As a result of scoring, a spray arises and is captured. That’s your essential oil.

No matter how essential oils are created, we know they do wonderful things for you in the home- check out our aroma diffusers for the home, made just for you by Stadler Form.