Carrier Oil vs. Essential Oil

  • In the past, I wrote about my summer and winter body oils in which I mention carrier and essential oils. Today, I thought it would be helpful to establish the difference between carrier oils and essential oils and the benefits of each one.

    Carrier Oil

    Carrier oils come from the oils of seeds, nuts, and kernels. They are rich in two main groups of essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. In skin care, these acids are known for their abilities to nourish the skin.

    Extraction:

    While there are a few different ways to extract carrier oils from seeds, nuts, and kernels, cold-pressed is the best method for extraction.  Cold-Pressed extracts oils from seeds, nuts, and kernels through the use of hydraulic press machines. These specialized machines crush the seeds, nuts, and kernels; thus, releasing the oils.

    What it Does for Your Skin:

    Carrier oils dilute and carry essential oils to the skin for absorption. Each carrier oil offers different beneficial properties such as the promotion of cell regeneration, calming inflammation, providing vitamins and minerals, and moisturizing the skin. Depending on the mixture, textures of these oils can be luxuriously rich or charmingly light.

    Essential Oil

    Naturally occurring aromas come from plants containing special oils known as essences. Certain cells and glands of these plants produce these essences to protect themselves against bacteria, fungi, and herbivores. After distillation humans can use these concentrated substances for similar purposes: to protect against disease and affect our skin and nervous system.

    Glass dropper with amber bottle
    Glass dropper with amber bottle

    Distillation Processes:

    The two most common distillation processes to extract essential oils from plants are steam distillation and solvent extraction.  At Jessica’s Apothecary, we only source steam distilled essential oils.  (In a couple instances a CO2 method of distillation comes into play but let’s keep things simple here).

    Steam distillation uses only heat and water to transform essences into essential oils. Plants are placed inside a still (a container) with pressurized steam. This steam circulates through plant material to open up the cells and glands to release essences. When the essences release from the plants they follow the steam to the condensation chamber to cool down. During cool down, the oil and water (from the steam) condense and separate themselves from each other.

    Solvent Extraction involves pouring a solvent compound (a chemical called Hexane) over the buds and petals of delicate flowers. The essences then dissolve themselves into the solvent.  Many essential oils on the market use this type of process.  Again, we don’t advocate the use of chemically extracted oils.

    Quality of Essential Oils:

    It is common to hear that an oil is “Therapeutic Grade” in a manufacturer’s attempt to express that their oils are more “pure” than another companies, but there are no established regulations on defining a “grade” of essential oil.  The purity of an essential oil is based on how they are grown, distilled, and packaged.  Jessica’s Apothecary only sources Certified Organic and Wildcrafted essential oils.  The plants will have the highest level of therapeutic effect when they are carefully handled.  We make sure that we only source oils that have been tested with Gas Chromatography (GC).  This quantifiable process tests for purity and identifies the constituents that make up an essential oil.  The oils then need to be protected against extreme heat and light as to not damage its therapeutic benefits.

    We are proud to offer the highest standard: Certified Organic, Cold-processed Carrier Oils and Certified Organic and Wildcrafted, Steam-distilled Essential Oils that have all been GC tested and packaged in amber glass bottles.  To see the blends we make visit our products page.

    Citations:

    Natural Medicine Suite 101. The Extraction of Carrier Oils <http://sharonfalsetto.suite101.com/the-extraction-of-carrier-oils-a181163>
    Describes the extraction methods used for carrier oils.

    Aroma Web. <http://www.aromaweb.com/vegetableoils/essentialfattyacids.asp>
    Contains information about fatty acids found in carrier oils.

    Aroma Web. <http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/whatcarr.asp>
    Defines carrier oils and how they can be used.

    Aroma Web. <http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/whatare.asp>
    Describes essential oils.

    Aromahead. Free Introduction to Essential Oils,
    <http://www.aromahead.com/>
    Defines essential oils and how they are distilled.

    Tisserand, Robert. Essential Oils
    <http://roberttisserand.com/about/essential-oils/>
    Why plants produce essential oils.

    Young Living Essential Oils. Young Living Therapeutic Grade (YLTG). <http://www.youngliving.com/en_US/company/therapeutic-grade.html>
    Describes the importance of therapeutic grade oils.

    Amrita Aromatheraphy. Essential Oils.
    <http://amrita.net/essential-oils.aspx>
    Description of therapeutic oils.

    Aroma Web. http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/essentialoilqualitypurity06.asp
    Describes the gas chromatography process.