One of the oldest medicinal technologies still in use today is essential oils extraction, the process of removing oils from plants. It all started thousands of years ago with what likely began as an early human squishing an olive in his fist.
Essential Oils: A History
The ancient people of Mesopotamia won the award for the first civilization to record the use of essential oils. The practice of extracting oils from plants evolved as it was picked up by the Egyptians and the Chinese mainly for aromatherapy. According to Utah-based essential oil manufacturer Young Living, Greek explorers brought oil extraction to Europe from Egypt, where the practice of using herbs and oils eventually spread through many cultures into medicinal traditions.
The practices of extracting using plant oil survived the Dark Ages, growing in popularity through the Renaissance. Early German immigrants to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries brought their Christian folklore with them, which included their knowledge of herbs and oils used in healing the mind and body.
Medical needs in both World Wars helped establish essential oils as a truly scientific resource in healing wounds received in battle. However, the mass production of extracting essential oils didn’t really take off until the 1980s, when a return to holistic treatment for diseases and injuries via aromatherapy took place. Since then, manufacturing essential oils from plants has become a multibillion dollar industry.
Essential Oil Extraction
doTERRA, another Utah manufacturer of essential oils, champions distilling as the best processes to extract essential oils:
“Essential oils are produced by plants naturally and collected by different processes including, hydro-distillation, steam distillation, cold pressing and others. A very common method of extracting essential oils is a low-heat steam distillation process. In this process, pressurized steam is circulated through plant material. The steam carries the volatile aromatic compounds from the plant into a collecting tube, where the steam is cooled and condensed back into water. Because essential oils are lipid soluble, they are easily separated from the water. Steam distillation requires careful control of time, temperature and pressure, based on each plant. Too little heat or pressure and the oil will not release: too much, and the oil’s composition and potency will be affected.”
Each specific oil has its own set of extraction processes. In general, mass produced extraction happens when heat is added to coax oil out of seeds, producing more oil than any other form of extraction. Smaller businesses that extract oils often choose another route, however, since using heat during extraction results in darker colors of oils, as well as a “burnt” flavor in oils that are edible.
Cold press oil extraction doesn’t use heat. Instead, oils extracted from the seed are filtered over and over again through a strainer. This method takes longer and makes a much lower quantity, but the quality is through the roof. Oils that have been extracted via cold press are nearly 100% pure oil; those that are edible contain nutrients that would have been otherwise burned away in extraction methods that use heat.
CBD Oil Extraction
An up and coming abstract of essential oil is CBD oil, which is extracted from hemp in a way different from other essential oils. SC Botanicals, a CBD oil manufacturer based in South Carolina, uses a method called supercritical CO2 extraction to ensure the highest quality product.
“Supercritical CO2 extraction in our opinion is cleaner but it’s much more expensive. At the end of the day – as long as each facility and extraction manager is ensuring proper protocols – patients and customers will get high quality products.”
In this method, CO2 is added to extracted crude oils from cannabis plants. The release of the CO2 into the air takes impurities and unwanted chemicals such as THC with it, resulting in virtually pure CBD oil.
Benefits of using cold extraction are byproducts produced that can be sold as well as the essential oils. Pressed plants that have had their oil extracted are often sold as “cake” to other industries, such as an ingredient in animal feed. An example of a byproduct of plant oil is in lavender essential oil manufacturing. After extraction, lavender oil is collected in vats of water, and then left to sit until the oil and water separate. Once separated, the lavender water is drained and sold to other companies for further use. The remaining lavender oil is the final product.
In all methods of plant oil extraction, temperature control plays a critical role. Essential oils should never be stored at temperatures above 80°F or below 45°F. That’s why Powerblanket provides heating control solutions in the form of warming blankets that keep essential oils at the right temperatures during extraction and in storage. When combined with the Beacon wireless control system, you have full access to temperature adjustments and heating data monitoring from your mobile phone or laptop.
For more information, call Powerblanket’s essential oil product experts at 855.389.4792 or by email at [email protected].