· By Nwadiogo Quartey-Ngwube
Everything You Need to Know About Essential Oils
What Are Essential Oils?
What we now call “essential oils” comes from the term “quintessential oils”. This stems from the belief that matter is composed from earth, air, fire and water - the four elements. A fifth element would be spirit or life force. The idea was when extracting essential oils you were removing the spirit of the plant. That’s also why we call brandy and whiskey “spirits”.
Essential oils are concentrated oils made from distilling or expressing the oils from the plant. They are different from perfume or fragrance oils and are able to provide health and therapeutic benefits that perfume and fragrance oils cannot.
Essential oils are popular because they are filled with antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties without any side effects.
How to Choose Your Essential Oils
Not all essential oils are created equal. The quality of the oil and the price is determined by several factors including;
- how rare the plant is
- how much oil is produced by the plant
- the country the plant is grown
- the distillation (or expression) process and
- if the oil is pure or has been diluted with other oils to bring the cost down.
You can purchase essential oils on their own or as blends, but be cautious when shopping for bargains. A lot of the time the price is connected to the quality of the oil.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils have many uses. You can use them to cook, clean, bake, as medicine and in your beauty regimens.
Before using the oil of your choice, make sure to know its strength. Not all essential oils can be used directly on your skin, some need to be diluted with carrier oils to be used safely.
How to Store Your Essentials
So you know what essential oils are now, you know what they’re used for and how they’re priced. But once you get them how do you store them?
Essential oils need to be stored in dark, airtight, glass bottles because exposure to light, oxygen, and heat causes chemical changes in the oil over time. Your oils need to be kept away from heat.