Essential Oils are the natural aromatic compounds found in the shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bark, stems, bushes and seeds that is usually extracted through steam distillation. Essential oils are highly concentrated and much more potent than dried herbs due to the distillation process. Thus it takes a large quantity of plant material to yield a small volume of distilled oil. It takes 5,000 lbs. of rose petals to distill down into two pounds of rose essential oil!
Herbs have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Many people are familiar with using herbs to enhance wellness. When plants are dried for tea or to make supplements, 95-97% of their essential oil is lost, as is much of the plant’s capability of helping us be healthy. By using essential oils, we are getting the complete chemical profile in every drop! The essential oil of the plant is what actually helps the body heal when we use herbs as medicine.
Where do we get essential oils? Our essential oils are distilled from plants by putting plant material into a large stainless steel cylinder, running steam up from the bottom. The steam picks up the oil sacs from the plants and is taken out through the top of the distiller. The steam is cooled back into water and the oil floats to the top, and can be removed.
These distilleries can be as large as about 20 feet tall and eight feet across. If you can imagine filling a cylinder 20 feet high and 8 feet across with German chamomile, which is a delicate, fragile plant, how much oil do you think you would get from distilling this much plant material? You get somewhere between 1⁄4 of a cup and 1⁄2 of a cup of essential oil!
This is why some oils are very expensive. Other oils, like peppermint and lavender, provide more oil in each distillation, so they are less expensive.