Essential oils... a fragrant pharmacy
Essential oils have been around for a long time. The original Coca Cola recipe, invented by John Pemberton in 1886 included the essential oils of orange, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and neroli.
At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the essential oils of neroli, rose, cinnamon, jasmine and benzoin were included in the coronation oil with which she was anointed.
Essential oils are truly holistic in that they affect mind, body and spirit. The mood-enhancing properties of certain essential oils ensured their inclusion in old-style perfumes. Put simply, they made people feel better.
Today, there are around 300 essential oils available via extraction from certain trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, roots, fruits and flowers. The oil is concentrated in different parts of the plant.
Geranium oil comes from the plant’s leaves and stalks, rose oil comes from the fragrant petals and lemon, lime, bergamot and grapefruit oils are extracted from the peel of the fruits.
Some essential oils, such as rose and jasmine require hundreds of thousands of petals to make only a few mls of essential oil. These oils are incredibly precious and expensive and often used in the smallest amount due to their potency.
At Sivana we source only the highest quality pure essential oils. Where possible we source from UK-based suppliers, although some oils do require importing from overseas due to their being native to certain climates.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries and has been known to help alleviate symptoms of certain health conditions.
When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.
We talk a lot about essential oils, and we’re proud of the fact we use them. But what’s the big deal?
Essential oils, what are they?
Simply put, Essential oils (EO’s) are steam-distilled pure plant extracts used for scenting, flavoring, or healing applications in aromatherapy.
What is a fragrance oil?
Fragrance oils are synthetic and artificially created from chemical compounds that do not occur naturally. Fragrance oils are usually created to last a lot longer than essential oils and are usually classed as either Synthetic fragrance oils or Natural fragrance oils – which is very misleading!
Are there any benefits of synthetic fragrance oils?
Fragrance oils are created to mimic certain scents and because they are manufactured, can be highly controlled in terms of intensity of scent.
Looking for a very particular scent? 99.99% of the time there is a fragrance oil out there, created to mimic that exact scent. A great way of understanding whether a scent is plant-derived or synthetic, is to look at the name and ask yourself if it grows in nature. Have you ever seen a candy floss tree? No, then it’s very likely a manufactured scent.
Mimicking is exactly where the similarities end. A synthetic lavender oil will smell lovely (things have progressed a lot since ‘those’ christmas gift sets!) but it won’t deliver the therapeutic properties of plant-derived natural lavender oil. Your brain will not process the compound in the same way, and you will not feel relaxed, de-stressed or calm by smelling a synthetic lavender oil.
How do essential oils affect my candle?
When choosing to make candles exclusively with essentail oils, rather than fragrance oils, it’s safe to say life becomes a little harder!
This is due to a number of reasons;
- Essential oils are naturally more subtle than manufactured fragrance oils. Therefore expert blending is required to achieve a decent scent throw – this is particularly important for us here at Sivana. Subtle isn’t in our nature.
- Because essential oils are not made in a lab and their chemical make-up cannot be dictated, they can have some very odd behaviours! For example, certain oils cannot be used with certain types of wax. Again, this makes creating the perfect candle even more of a feat!
- Cost. Let’s not beat around the (lavender) bush, products made with essential oils come with a premium price tag. But, there’s good reason for that. Given that it can take thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of petals to create just a few millilitres of essential oil, it makes sense that the farmers harvesting those plants can demand a premium. Then there’s the distillation process, packaging, retail etc… the supply chain of an essential oil is a lot more complex than a manufactured fragrance created in a laboratory.
Do you not fancy an easy life, and switching to fragrance oils?
Absolutely not! Whilst it’s true, working with fragrance oils is generally considered a lot easier than working with essential oils, natural, therapeutic scents with real welbeing benefits is what Sivana is all about. We’re not open to immitation. Only the real deal is good enough for us!
Do essential oils really work?
Yes! See the explanation above to understand how essential oils are processed by the brain.
Are there any scents you cannot create with essential oils?
Yes, surprisingly vanilla is not available as an essential oil as the plant does not lend itself to extraction. Tonka bean is an alternative along the same scent lines, but is very difficult to source and is very expensive.
Rose, jasmine and neroli essential oils are very expensive due to the volume needed to produce the smallest amount of oil. They are classed as ‘low yield,’ meaning it takes many flowers to make just a single drop of oil. The perfect growing conditions are also required, for example jasmine flowers must be harvested by hand at night, which is when they are most potent.
Therefore when included in a scent blend, these oils will usually be diluted with a more readily available oil, such as geranium, ylang ylang or petitgrain.
Are there any cautions I should be aware of?
Yes, see below.
Some cautions are required when using essential oils, due to their potency.
Pregnant women should always consult their GP before inhaling essential oils, even via a diffuser.
Products containing essential oils should always be kept out of the reach of children and pets. Any essential oil ingested can be extremely harmful to health.
When diffusing essential oils around pets, always leave doors open for ventilation and never leave a pet in a room with diffused essential oils, without a means of freely moving away from the aroma.
Essential oils can be extremely harmful to aquatic life, with lasting effects and should never come into contact.
Essential oils are extremely potent and should never be applied undiluted to skin. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils, when using in cosmetics.