What makes essential oils so powerful?

What makes essential oils so powerful?

March 07, 2017 0 Comments

Much more than merely a tiny bottle of oil that smells lovely and has the power to fill any room with beautiful aroma, essential oils promote healing and good vibes in many tangible ways.

From relieving anxiety and helping to promote weight loss to giving relief from arthritis and infection, essential oils hold therapeutic and healing power.

As we journey to discover more natural ways to maintain our health, essential oils are one powerful way that we can promote natural healing and healthy solutions for physical and emotional daily living.

Is it really that important to choose products that are fragranced with essential oils over products that use an artificial source of fragrance? This article is just the beginning of an open and honest discussion that will help you determine for yourself if it’s an important change that you would like to make in your own life.

My First Experience with Essential Oils

I remember when my daughter was born 17 years ago.

To be honest, at that time in my life, I had very little appreciation or interest in essential oils. I knew that they smelled nice and that they were created from plants and flowers…that was the extent of my knowledge and interest.

A dear friend of mine had given me the tiniest bottle of Rose Essential Oil to take to the hospital.

She said that it would help with feelings of anxiety and depression that can occur after giving birth. I didn’t understand the value of what she had given to me, but out of love and respect for her, I accepted her gift and promised to use it.

Lovelies, I was blown away.

There is a reason why Rose is considered the Queen of essential oil.

After opening the precious, tiny bottle, I applied just a drop on each of my wrists and the wonderful aroma of rose filled the entire room. I think if love has a smell, this has to be it!

Learning About Essential Oils

For me, learning about essential oils and their uses is a slow and ongoing process that began along with my journey of creating organic body products.

It is a weighty topic that uncovers an endless supply of information.

The process of discovery can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for someone just beginning their journey to understand the many uses of essential oils.

Let’s talk about the power of natural.

Plants themselves have life sustaining qualities that we are all familiar with. We use them for

  • food
  • clothing
  • building materials, etc.

Beyond that, let’s face it…they add beauty, peace and joy to our lives! There are a variety of processes used to extract the essence of plants that create an essential oil. In some cases, every part of the plant is used, including the:

  1. leaves
  2. flowers
  3. stems
  4. roots
  5. and even the bark

Nothing is wasted! This process produces a natural oil that contains the essence of the plant, which we know as essential oils.

What’s so fascinating to me is that the complex organic compounds that make up a single drop of essential oil can not be identically duplicated.

A manufactured oil that is produced compound for compound to be an exact match of an organic essential oil will be only be a copy of the truth. We would not have an oil that holds the same healing properties of its organic, natural counterpart.

The creation of essential oils use two main methods of extraction: Distillation and Expression (also known as cold pressing).

There are three basic types of Distillation

1. Water Distillation

This method is used mostly with lovely flowers such as roses and orange blossoms.

  • During this process, the plant is completely immersed in water and brought to a boil.
  • Once cooled, the water and essential oil separates.
  • The water then becomes what we would recognize by name as a hydrosol, sweet water or floral water; the separated oil then becomes our essential oil.

Water distillation does offer some protection of the oils that are extracted since the surrounding water acts as a barrier to prevent it from overheating. There are however, variations of water distillation that allow for modified (reduced) pressure which reduces the temperature to less than 100 degrees.

This is more of an ideal method for some plants as it protects both the plant material and essential oil.

2. Water and Steam Distillation

This combined method of distillation is most commonly used with herbs and the leafy parts of the plant.

There are several benefits to this process such as:

  1. a quicker processing time
  2. a higher yield of essential oils
  3. and the use of less steam

Water is kept below the plant during this process and it is not brought to a boil. The plant is then placed on a grate above the water. Carefully controlled hot steam is indirectly introduced from an outside source (usually the steam is fed into the top instead of the bottom as in traditional steam distillation).

The steam forces the plants to release the contained oils and the essence of the plant is evaporated into the steam.

Cool science here!

As condensation builds from the steam, it holds the essential drops of oil that contain the plant’s essence. The condensation forms an oil which is held in place by the grill underneath the plants.

3. Steam Distillation

This is the most common and widely used method of creating essential oils. The steam is introduced into the still just as in the above example of water and steam distillation, but generally it is released toward the bottom of the still instead of the top and is added at a slightly higher pressure and temperature.

The plants are placed in the still and as the steam is forced over the material, the plant releases the essential oil.

The steam captures the plant’s essence and then goes through a cooling system to condense. A liquid is formed and the essential oil and water become separated and the oil can be captured.

How are you hanging in there lovelies?

Basically, we just shared a lot of information and some complex sounding processes that all add up to this one basic principle. The essence of a plant is released from its’ essential oil cavities by the use of steam or boiling water and then it is collected and separated! Simple!

Let’s quick look at the Expression (also known as cold pressed) method of extraction.

Expression (Cold Pressed)

This method is more specific to the citrus family of essential oils.

Expression that was accomplished by hand before modern technology was completed by soaking the zest or rind of a citrus in warm water. The softened rind would then be placed into a sponge and pressed which would break the essential oil cavities. The sponge would absorb the essential oils and once it was full, was pressed out over a holding container, left to stand until the oil separated from the water or juice and the essential oil was then captured.

Modern technology has replaced the old method of Expression for the most part.

Today, centrifugal force is used to rotate the fruit and prick the peel to create punctures. This process releases the essential oil and the oil is then collected and held in a container. As in the above sponge method, the liquid is left to stand and once the oil is separated from the liquid it is retrieved.


This has been such a fun and adventurous journey of learning methods of extraction for creating essential oils! It makes me want to run out and start squeezing some sweet orange citrus oil from a sponge.

I’m so excited to continue sharing more about these beautiful oils that hold such beauty and therapeutic benefits for us.

Stay tuned for more to come and if you have a favorite oil you want to share about, please feel free to drop a comment below!

with love and in gratitude…


Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace…”





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