You may have heard about them from a friend, seen your favorite actress in the most recent movie you watched use them for her baths, or come across them more times than you can recall on social media platforms, but what are essential oils? If this question has been in your mind every time you hear the word essential oils, then you’ll be glad to know you are not the only one in the dark. Fortunately, you are in good company as we will not only explain what they are but also how to use them as well.
What are essential oils?
The popularity of these oils has been on the rise lately as more and more people continue to discover the unprecedented benefits that they pack. Nevertheless, it is vital to note that they are not the new since they date back to centuries before civilization. They have been linked to ancient Egypt and India, where wise healers would make salves, poultices, and medicinal teas for the ailing members of the community using them. Priests in these communities would also use them for religion while the women use them would for cosmetic purposes.
Now that you are aware of their history, what are they? Simply put, essential oils are aromatic compounds created by the glandular parts of a plant, commonly the roots, leaves, and flowers. They serve a specific function in each plant. For instance, in some plants, they are produced with the sole purpose of attracting pollinators, while in others they are for repelling predators. In other words, these oils are comparable to natural oils except that they are much more concentrated.
How are they made?
They are extracted from the plant through the process of steam distillation. Even though there are several other methods of extraction such as solvent and CO2 extraction, steam distillation is the most common. During this process, steam is pumped into a hopper/pot which holds the raw plant, for instance, lavender or peppermint causing the plant to release its aromatic compounds in the form of vapor, which then rises as a stream of water vapor into a cooling system. Here, it condenses and turns back into a liquid.
Since this is still not pure, the liquid then travels to the separator system, where water and oil separate into two different layers, with the oil compounds being on top. The process of decantation is then carried out, to separate the two liquids. It results into pure essential oils, and hydrosol or what is known as floral water. Both end products have benefits because the floral water also boasts of some therapeutic benefits.
How to use them
Now that you are in the know about what they are and how they are made, how do you incorporate them into your lifestyle? Find out below.
Using a diffuser to diffuse essential oils into the air is a great way to enjoy the long string of benefits that they boast. A diffuser dispenses a super fine mist of these oils into the air, allowing you to take in the beneficial aroma and at the same time freshening the air around you naturally. Therefore, if you don’t have one, it would be a good idea to get it because it helps create a pleasant and healthy atmosphere in your home. You can effectively use it by mixing 2-8 drops of essential oil with water in your diffuser.
Inhaling is yet another great way to enjoy the benefits that these pleasant smelling oils pack, especially when you are not at home and cannot access your diffuser. You can inhale directly from the bottle or add two to three drops on a piece of tissue or handkerchief and then inhale. Since essential oils help in easing depression, anxiety, and stress, you can make a tetra cotta necklace or carry the handkerchief with you so you can inhale whenever the need arises.
Other ways to use essential oils
- Topical application to your pulse points and areas such as your chest, feet, and temple
- Adding them to your bath water
- Through massages
To sum it up, the benefits of essential oils cannot be underestimated. The fact that they are purely natural makes them even more appealing. What is even more riveting is that besides their long string of health benefits, they also have many other home uses such as cooking.
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