Essential oils are the concentrated volatile or ethereal oils extracted from a single botanical plant source.
The part of the plant that yields the maximum amount of volatile oil is what’s used in the extraction process, i.e. flowers, leaves, stems, bark, seeds and roots of shrubs, bushes, herbs and trees.
When the substance of scent is still in the plant, it is called an essence. After distillation from the plant part, flower or herb the volatile aromatic compound is referred to as an essential oil.
These subtle, highly aromatic compounds are found in the specialized cells or glands of plants and herbs. Through millennia these plant excretions have evolved as protection for flowers and plants from predators and to attract pollinators.
Surprisingly aromatic compounds are not found in all plants. Why this is so remains a mystery.
Read first blog in this series: Fragrant Differences Why Some People Hate the Scent of Lavender.
Photo: Here we see vats of oil being infused with the properties of aromatic plants, including their scent. In ancient times before distillation plant aromatics were often infused into some type of fat for use in skin care and healing.