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Article: Essential oils, a heritage story

Essential oils, a heritage story
essential oils

Essential oils, a heritage story

They delight the heart and the senses, and beyond even the real pleasures they convey, they act as a true therapeutic goodness for the body, skin, and mind. So what are these marvelous little treasures?

Essential oil is the perfume of plants, and is found in forming organs: flower, leaf, stem, bark, root…Together all the volatile substances that can be found within aromatic plants. These are substances that are very powerful since they are extremely concentrated.

How to extract them?

The manner in which essential oil is obtained depends on the kind of forming organ; therefore it could be extracted :

• by distilling water vapor: while traveling across the forming organ, the water vapor carries the aromatic molecules. After a rechilling process, the first liquid phase is reached on the surface, which becomes the essential oil, while below the aqueous solution, there is a significantly less content of active ingredients, which is known as the aromatic “hydrolat”

• by cold press: this method is used for citrus fruits. The pressure brings about an emulsion of water and essential oils that undergoes a centrifuge process, which is followed by filtration in order to recuperate the essential oil of the citrus, known as “essence”.

• by volatile solvents (or “enfleurage”): this process involves dissolving the odorous substance in a solvent, such as hexane or ethanol. These solvents are now going to be almost completely eliminated by a distillation process. The essential oil obtained is often called “absolue”. It is used notedly for the extraction of essential oils in vegetal organs which cannot support heat (such as jasmine or hyacinth).

These past couple of years, we have been working on developing new technologies which promote noted advantages for the environment, however it needs greater investment in order to obtain the necessary expensive equipment. This is the issue for extracting carbon dioxide (CO2) that is particularly adapted to the extraction process of fragile essential oils, which require a low temperature.

What kind of yield and quality?

Yield and quality differ widely between one plant and another. For example, in order to obtain 1 kg of essential oil, one must gather almost 150 kg of real Lavender and 1000 kg of bitter orange flowers, and then there is the question of price, which fluctuates according to the season, but can reach around 4000 euros… But if the yield affects the price, it is not the only influencing factor. In fact, the quality of the land is an important value, together with the functions of the sun, climate, composition of soil, and altitude. In short, the same plant could produce essential oils that are very different at the biochemical composition level, and thus is a very variable biological action. The use of essential oils thus requires a real scientific understanding, which we call aromatherapy, which has been otherwise quite trendy for several years. It is truly here that the art of l’ODAÏTÈS, due to its expertise, its inherited know-how, and the meticulous selection of its suppliers and of its plant-based substances, has led to the ability to produce vapor-distilled essential oils originating from the best land!

Thus, we have chosen the « Cap Bon » region in Tunisia for its neroli oil, an area reputable and well-known for its perfectly balanced climate by all professional perfumers and producers!

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