Essential oils are a common ingredient in natural products and are usually used by inhalation or through the topical application of diluted oils. Because this oil is easily available to the public, many people mistake it for no special knowledge or training to use it.
Unfortunately, many people make this mistake. Some have read a little about aromatherapy, or a friend or supplier has told them a certain oil is good for this or that. But essential oils can cause problems if used incorrectly.
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What are essential oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids made from plant materials – bark, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, or twigs – that are made in a variety of ways.
The most common is steam distillation, in which water vapor flows under pressure through plant matter, resulting in the evaporation of the oil. The resulting mixture of oil and steam is condensed back into a liquid and the oil is removed.
Plants that are too sensitive to steam distillation, such as jasmine, orange blossom, and rose, can be extracted from the oil using a solvent. Oils made by this process are known as absolute oils and are often used in perfumes or diffusers because the residual solvents make most of them unsuitable for topical applications.