An essential oil is a concentrated oil soluble liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is “essential” in the sense that it contains the “essence of” the plant’s fragrance or the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived (wikipedia).
Essential Oil Aroma Volatiles
Essential oils mainly contain a mixture of natural volatile aroma compounds that contribute characteristic organoleptic properties. As a whole, they are responsible for the aroma & taste profile of the plant source they are derived from.
Many of these aroma compounds also have useful properties such as antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal abilities. The specific concentrations of these chemicals sometimes dictates the quality & price of the corresponding oils.
Fact or fiction?
Some of the healing powers of essential oils have been documented for thousands of years. While some of these have been scientifically investigated & confirmed, much research still needs to be conducted to completely understand the entire scope of benefits for each essential oil. Due to the increasing popularity of essential oils & the shear amount of false information that is published everyday, it is recommended to confirm the quality or reputability of the sources of information. We have provided a few books & research papers that include solid references.
How are essential oils extracted?
Essential oils are usually extracted from natural products (leaves, seeds, wood, bark, berries, resin, flowers, peel, root & fruits) utilizing steam distillation. This process generally involves boiling the plant material & collecting a distillate, which is primarily composed of water & essential oil. Steam distillation is the preferred extraction technique because it is a relatively simple & low cost process, environmentally friendly & this separation technique is perfectly suited for fragile & temperature sensitive aroma compounds.
Can essential oils replace spices?
Absolutely! The smell & taste of spices is principally derived from the corresponding essential oil. The freshness of the spice is directly related to the qualitative aspects of the aroma compounds. Utilizing essential oils in formulations, in-tandem with spices, can ensure more consistent flavour & aroma.
Why are prices so volatile?
Many species of natural products grow in specific regions of the world. As a result, they are affected by climate, disease, geopolitical situations, cartels, oligopolies & other factors.
Quality & consistency of essential oils
The quality & chemical compositions of natural products varies depends growing conditions & the geographical regions they are grown in.