Essential oils are produced by extracting plant oils. They are used in aromatherapy for health, wellness, and beauty. The processes of extracting these oils can be pretty laborious and expensive, and various extraction and distilling methods are used.
Given the essential oil market is unregulated, how do you know where the essential oils are made and if they are pure and of good quality?
Plant Therapy sources its essential oils from many different countries. The company itself is based in Twin Falls, Idaho, where they produce and package the final products. Their oils are third-party tested for quality standards and purity, and most of their products show the ingredient origins.
Each Plant Therapy product comes with a batch number and product information. Consumers can search the batch number on the Plant Therapy website to learn more about the product, its origins, and the lab test results.
Where Does Plant Therapy Make Their Essential Oils?
Plant Therapy does not grow its own plants or distill its own essential oils. Instead, they source their ingredients from essential oil distilleries worldwide.
Buying already-distilled oil is cheaper than growing, harvesting, and refining the vast number of crops they would need for their wide product range.
Where Does Plant Therapy Get Its Distilled Essential Oil?
Since different plants grow better in certain areas and climates, the distilled oil comes from local and international suppliers. Chris Jones, the founder and President of Plant Therapy, writes about some of these suppliers in his blogs.
Some Plant Therapy Essential Oils Are Made In France
Some of the essential oils used in Plant Therapy products are produced in France, in Valence. About 8 tons of plant material is needed to make 2.2 lbs. of distilled essential oil. The plants and oils they source from France include:
- Clary Sage
- Melissa (Lemon Balm)
- Thyme (thymol)
Plant Therapy Essential Oils Made In Morocco
Plant Therapy sources its Argan oil from Morocco. This oil is certified organic. The interesting harvesting and distillation process can be read in another blog by Chris Jones after he and the vice President of Plant Therapy visited Morocco in June 2016.
The oil extraction process is done mainly by hand, from harvesting to extracting the oil.
One Argan tree can yield up to 8.8 lbs. Argan oil annually.
Other essential oil Plant Therapy sources from Morocco include Blue Tansy, Juniper Berry, and Atlas Cedarwood.
Where Are Other Plant Therapy Essential Oils Made?
Plant Therapy sources essential oils from many other countries. One needs to look at the product on their website to see where the oil was initially made, although not all products state this. Their oils are listed under Singles, Blends, Organic, Kidsafe, Pup & Pony, and their CBD range, amongst others.
A few of their essential oils and origins are shown below.
|Plant Therapy Essential Oil||Country of Origin|
|Balm Mint Bush||Australia|
|Black Pepper||Sri Lanka|
|Bourbon Geranium||Madagascar and Reunion Island|
|Cananga||Indonesia and Madagascar|
|Ginger Root CO2 Extract||Germany, Indonesia, and Nigeria|
|Helichrysum Italicum||Bosnia, Croatia, and France|
|Juniper Berry||Hungary and Morocco|
|Organic Turmeric CO2 Extract||Germany, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam|
|Organic Ylang-Ylang Complete||Madagascar|
|Pink Carnation Absolute||Egypt|
|Pink Grapefruit||South Africa and the United States|
|Sweet Fennel||Hungary and Tanzania|
|Texas Cedarwood||United States|
For the purposes of company transparency, each product sold by Plant Therapy has a batch number and detailed Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
However, according to the Consumer’s Advocate independent review of the Best Essential Oil Brands in the U.S., the ingredient origin is not specific enough on certain Plant Therapy products, especially those listing more than one origin.
How are essential oils made step by step?
The process of making essential oils takes several steps. While there are different methods of extraction, the most common one is steam distillation.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how essential oils are made using this method:
The first step is to harvest the plant material that contains the oil. Different plants have different parts used for essential oil extraction, such as flowers, leaves, stems, bark, or roots. The plant is typically harvested at the peak of its oil content.
Once harvested, the plant material is cleaned and sorted to remove any impurities like dirt or debris. Large stems or branches may be trimmed or removed.
3. Distillation apparatus setup
A still or distillation apparatus is set up. It consists of a boiler or distillation chamber, a condenser, and a collection vessel.
4. Loading the plant material
The clean plant goes into the distillation chamber. The quantity used depends on the plant and the desired oil yield.
5. Steam distillation
Water heats in the boiler or distillation chamber, producing steam. The steam passes through the plant material, causing the essential oil glands to rupture and release their aromatic compounds. The steam carries the essential oil vapor through the condenser.
In the condenser, the steam carrying the essential oil vapor cools down. As the steam cools, it condenses into liquid form, along with the essential oil.
The condensed liquid, which is a mixture of water and essential oil, is collected in a collection vessel. The essential oil, being lighter than water, floats on top.
8. Phase separation
The essential oil is separated from the water through a process called phase separation. As the mixture settles, the essential oil forms a distinct layer on top, which can be skimmed off or extracted using a separating funnel.
To remove any remaining impurities or plant particles, the collected essential oil is often filtered through a fine filter or cheesecloth.
The final step involves storing the essential oil in dark glass bottles or containers. This protects the oil from light and helps maintain its potency and aroma over time.
It’s important to note that some plants require different extraction methods, such as cold-pressing for citrus oils (grapefruit, lime or lemon) or solvent extraction for delicate flowers like jasmine or rose. These methods may involve variations in the steps described above.
Can essential oils be made at home?
Yes, it is possible to make them at home, although the process may vary depending on the plant you are using and the method of extraction.
Here are a few methods commonly used for making essential oils at home:
This is the most common method for extracting essential oils at home. The process involves using a steam distillation setup, which typically includes a boiler or distillation chamber, a condenser, and a collection vessel. You can follow a similar process to the one described in the previous answer.
This method is suitable for obtaining essential oils from citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. It involves manually squeezing or pressing the rind of the fruit to release the essential oil. The oil separates from the juice allowing collection. This method is simple but yields smaller amounts of essential oil compared to steam distillation.
Maceration is a method used for extracting essential oils from flowers, leaves, or herbs. It involves soaking the plant material in a carrier oil (such as olive oil or almond oil) for an extended period, typically several weeks. The carrier oil absorbs the essential oil compounds from the plant material. After maceration, the oil is strained, and the plant material is discarded, leaving behind the infused oil.
It’s important to note that making essential oils at home may not yield the same potency or consistency as commercially produced oils. Professional distillation processes are typically more effective at extracting concentrated essential oils.
Additionally, some plants may contain components that can be toxic or irritate the skin, so it’s crucial to research and ensure the safety of the plant material you’re using.
If you decide to make essential oils at home, follow detailed instructions specific to the plant material and extraction method you choose.
There are many resources available, including books and online tutorials, that provide guidance on making essential oils at home.
What do you need to make essential oils?
To make essential oils, you will need several tools and materials. The specific requirements can vary depending on the extraction method you choose, but here are some common items you may need:
The Plant material
The part of the plant used for extraction will depend on the specific essential oil you want to make. It could be flowers, leaves, stems, bark, roots, or citrus peels, depending on the plant.
Depending on the plant, you may need scissors, pruning shears, or a knife to harvest the plant parts.
For steam distillation, you will need a distillation setup. This typically includes a boiler or distillation chamber, a condenser, and a collection vessel. You can either purchase a distillation kit or assemble one using appropriate materials.
Steam distillation requires water to generate steam in the boiler or distillation chamber. Make sure you have a reliable source of water for the process.
You will need a heat source to generate steam for the distillation process. This can be a stove, hot plate, or any other heat-producing device suitable for your setup.
Carrier oil (optional)
If you plan to make infused oils through maceration, you will need a carrier oil, such as olive oil or almond oil, to soak the plant.
You will need dark glass bottles or containers with tight-fitting lids to store the extracted oils. Amber or cobalt blue glass bottles are the most common as they help protect the oils from light.
Strainer or filter
A fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth is useful for filtering out any plant particles or impurities from the extracted essential oil.
Labels and markers
It’s important to label your essential oil bottles with the name of the essence and the date of extraction. This helps you keep track of your oils and their freshness.
Additionally, it’s crucial to have access to reliable and accurate information about the plant you are using, including its safety profile, extraction techniques, and any precautions or warnings associated with it.
Remember to research and follow proper guidelines and instructions specific to the plant material and extraction method you choose.
What are hydrosols?
Hydrosols, also known as hydrolats or floral waters, are the co-products of the steam distillation process. They are essentially the remaining water after the steam distillation process.
During steam distillation, steam passes through the plant material, rupturing essential oil glands and releasing their aromatic compounds. The steam carries the essential oil vapor along with it. When the steam cools and condenses in the condenser, it separates into two distinct parts: the essential oil, which floats on top, and the water portion, which is collected separately. This water-based portion is the hydrosol.
They contain a small amount of the essential oil and numerous water-soluble compounds. Their aroma is delicate, often resembling the scent of the plant they derive from, but in a milder form compared to the concentrated essential oil.
Hydrosols are pricey because of their therapeutic properties, gentle nature, and versatility. They can be used in various applications, including skincare, aromatherapy, culinary uses, and as ingredients in natural cosmetics and cleaning products.
It’s important to note that they should be sourced from reputable producers to ensure their quality and purity.
Are essential oils considered natural?
Essential oils are derived from natural sources, primarily plants. They are concentrated extracts of the aromatic compounds found in various parts of plants, such as flowers, leaves, stems, bark, or roots. Therefore, in their pure form, essential oils are considered natural.
However, it’s important to note that not all products marketed as “essential oils” are necessarily 100% natural. Some commercially available essential oils may undergo additional processing or contain additives, diluents, or synthetic ingredients to enhance their fragrance, extend shelf life, or reduce costs. These adulterated or synthetic oils may not meet the criteria of being completely natural.
To ensure the natural authenticity of essential oils, it is advisable to source them from reputable and trustworthy suppliers who provide transparent information about the sourcing, production, and testing of their oils. Look for terms like “100% pure,” “organic,” or “certified organic” on the product labels or seek third-party certifications from reputable organizations.
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that while they are derived from natural sources, they are highly concentrated substances and should be used with care. Some essential oils may cause skin irritation or sensitivities, and certain oils can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. Proper dilution and following recommended guidelines are essential for safe and effective use.
Always consult reliable sources, such as reputable aromatherapy literature or professional guidance, for information on safe usage, contraindications, and potential side effects of specific essential oils.
What are the main benefits of essential Oils?
Essential oils are known for their diverse properties and potential benefits. However, it’s important to note that the specific benefits can vary depending on the type used.
Here are some common benefits:
- Aromatherapy: Promotes relaxation and uplifts mood easing depression and anxiety.
- Skin Care: Helps moisturize, soothe, and improve skin health.
- Respiratory Support: Assists with opening up airways and respiratory health.
- Relaxation and Sleep: Facilitates relaxation and improves sleep quality (lavender oil).
- Mood Enhancement: Can positively impact emotions and mood.
- Natural Cleaning: Possesses antimicrobial properties for natural cleaning.
- Insect Repellent: Repels insects naturally.
Remember to use essential oils safely, follow dilution guidelines, and seek professional advice when needed.
Plant Therapy sources its essential oils made locally and internationally. They try to source pure, organic, and unadulterated essential oils as far as possible. Plant Therapy has its headquarters in Idaho, where the company began. From there, they produce, package, and market their products.