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Top 3 Methods to Extract Essential Oils

Extract Essential Oils

When using essential oils, it’s natural to wonder where they come from. Of course, we know that Lemon oil comes from lemons and Lavender from those lavender flowers. But how do get the essence out of all of that plant matter; squeeze it like an orange, steep it like herbs, or wave a magic wand? Here at Nature’s Fusions, we use only the best and purest extraction methods to obtain high-quality, pure essential oils.

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is by far the most commonly used method of essential oil extraction, and we are no exception. More than 85% of our essential oils are extracted using steam distillation. We trust this method because it delivers pure essential oils without compromising the integrity of the oil. This method is also unique in the way that it doesn’t destroy the plant matter the oil is being extracted from. This matter can then be used later for additional purposes. Let’s take a look.

Plant matter is put into a chamber that is heated with steam from boiling water. When heated, the plant’s compounds start to break down, evaporate, and turn to vapor. That vapor, along with the steam used to heat it, is funneled into a condenser where it is cooled and turns back into a liquid. Because oil is hydrophobic (afraid of and doesn’t mix with water), the water and oil naturally separate as they are both brought back to liquid form. With pure essential oil on the bottom and our helpful water molecules on top, we simply remove the water and are left with 100% pure essential oil! Our most popular essential oils are extracted this way. Using the delicate petals of Rose, the strong bark of Cinnamon, and the flowering tops of Lavender, we extract only the purest and highest quality essential oils for your use.

line of plant sprigs

Cold Expression

Ever peeled an orange and had little juices squirt into your face? Well, you have performed Cold Expression! Unlike with steam distillation, this extraction method does not utilize heat, but instead uses pressure. Also known as cold-press, cold expression is our method of choice for all our citrus oils. So, our Lemon, Mandarin, Bergamot, Orange, Tangerine, Lime, and Grapefruit essential oils are extracted by applying pressure! Inside each fruit, there are oil sacs that are found on the underside of the rind and peel. These sacs are first punctured, and then pressure is applied to release the oil. Because of intense pressure, small pieces of rind and peel are pushed into the collection site as well, and the yield is then placed into a centrifuge where the spinning force separates the pieces for easy collection. We love this method for its reminiscence on peeling cuties and for its ability to deliver unadulterated, pure essential oils.

Don’t worry it’s not the silent treatment or anything, we just squish the rind and peel of citruses to get our lovely oils.

Solvent Extraction - Supercritical CO2

Traditionally, the plants are treated with a solvent such as food grade hexane or ethanol, but the better option is using supercritical CO2. This mixture is called a concrete, which is a combination of wax and oil. Ethyl alcohol is then mixed with the concrete in order to separate the oil from the wax. Then, heat is applied to remove the alcohol through vacuum distillation. Once the remaining substance is put through a condenser, what is left is the essential oil absolute.

There’s been some controversy in the essential oil world over what extraction methods produce 100% pure essential oils. It’s commonly known that when using solvent extraction, minute traces of the solvents are left behind in the oil, adulterating and diluting the oil’s potency. Some companies don’t see this as a problem, even when the adulterant makes up 2% of the finished product. But we don’t feel good doing that. Instead, we’ve found that using a special kind of solvent extraction called supercritical CO2 allows the oil to separate from the plant matter without hexane, ethanol, or alcohol, just CO2 (the kind you breathe out when you exhale). The pros to this kind of extraction are that you have a compound that naturally separates from the essential oil (like in steam distillation) and you again have 100% pure essential oil at the end!

Currently, none of our essential oils are extracted using supercritical CO2, but as we expand our oil collection and look for the best of the best, we will only consider essential oils that have been extracted using steam distillation, cold expression, or supercritical CO2.

Using the right extraction method to collect any given essential oil makes a huge difference in the quality of the finished product. If you were to use the wrong method, you would seriously compromise the oil. It is so important to make sure that you’re getting your essential oils from a responsible, knowledgeable, and experienced company. When you’re spending your hard-earned money, you want to get what you paid for. So let us help you make sure you are getting 100% pure, every time!