Do you have trouble telling the difference between an essential oil and a natural oil? Are you lost when you hear about lavender essential oil and lavender hydrosol? If so, the following details will help you figure it all out.
What natural oils are?
A natural oil is a fatty substance extracted by pressure from oleaginous plant organs, such as seeds (sweet almond, hemp), nuts (macadamia) or sometimes pulp (avocado, coconut). Several pressure methods can be used to obtain the oil, but to best preserve the fatty acids and vitamins that make up the oil, first cold pressure is the optimal choice. This method is applied by mechanical pressure at low temperature.
Macerated Oils: what does that mean?
Maceration is used for plants that offer health benefits but don’t produce oil. These include Arnica, Marigold (Calendula) or St. John's Wort flowers. The macerated oil is then simply obtained by macerating the plant organ in a basic natural oil. Sunflower or olive oils are most often used.
What are essential oils, and what are hydrosols?
Essential oils are essences extracted from certain parts of aromatic plants by steam distillation, i.e. leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, roots. Although they are qualified as oils, they are an essence and not a fatty substance.
Distillation produces two liquids:
a less dense liquid loaded with aromatic molecules that float on its surface; this is the essential oil.
a denser liquide. distilled water, which contains less than 5% of aromatic molecules. This produces the aromatic hydrosol, also called floral water. Simply put, the hydrosol is the water used to distill the essential oil and, although their virtues are complementary, they are used in different ways. The hydrosol can be used as a facial cleansing and toning lotion or simply as a refreshing fragrance water.
Note: citrus essences (lemon, sweet orange) are not obtained by steam distillation, but through mechanical pressure of the peel.