Are you among that group of consumers who regularly buy essential oil products? If so, you are not alone. Essential oils are big business these days. People use essential oil products for better health. Many use them to naturally control pests. Others use essential oils as natural air fresheners.
Among the many benefits essential oils bring to the table is their natural origins. You could, quite literally, take any plant and release its natural oils just by grinding it up. Essential oil product manufacturing is a bit more detailed than that, but it is still a fairly straightforward process compared to extracting CBD from the hemp plant or distilling spirits.
Most Plants Offer Them
One of the first things you learn about essential oils as a manufacturer is that just about all plants offer them. Essential oils are volatile compounds in the sense that they are easily evaporated. They are also incredibly aromatic. If you are familiar with what mint and lavender smell like, you get the point.
Nature has created essential oils for two purposes. First, their odors attract pollinators like bees and birds. On the other hand, the same odors repel certain types of pests. In essence, it's a delicate balancing act nature has created to keep plant life around.
We humans can grow and harvest plans for their essential oils. Indeed, we do just that. Everything from lemongrass to rose and mint are on the table. The question is, how do the oils get from the plants to retail shelves?
Two Methods of Extraction
Manufacturing an essential oil product begins with extraction. Cedarstone Industry, a Houston company that manufactures a variety of processing and distilling equipment, says there are two ways to extract essential oils. The first is mechanically. The second is through distillation.
1. Mechanical Extraction
Mechanical extraction is a process of extracting essential oils by putting plant material into large, steel drums that rotate. The drums are outfitted with small stainless-steel spikes that poke, penetrate, and shred the plant material. This reduces the plant material's volume while simultaneously extracting the oils it offers. Those oils are drained out before the resulting plant material is disposed of.
The main benefit of mechanical extraction is its simplicity. Mechanical extraction releases the oils. Meanwhile spinning the liquid material in a centrifuge concentrates the stuff you want while filtering out what you don't want.
2. Distilling Essential Oils
Distilling essential oils is very similar to distilling just about anything else. You put plant material into a stainless-steel tank, or still, equipped with a valve connected to high pressure steam. Steam is forced through the plant material in order to increase its temperature. This causes the volatile compounds to evaporate. They rise to the top of the still where they come in contact with the condenser.
Condensing forces the vapor to reconstitute as liquid before dropping down into a collector. From there, you end up with both essential oil and water. Because the two don't mix, they can be separated easily by way of siphoning.
Making Retail Products
Once you have your pure essential oil, you can use it to make retail products. There are cases in which manufacturers bottle up the pure oil without any additional processing. There are other cases when oils are further processed and mixed with additional ingredients. It really depends on the purpose for the finished product.
Essential oils are organic substances with a lot of possibilities. Thankfully, extracting them is not a painful or expensive process. Maybe that's why so many manufacturers are now cashing in on the essential oil craze.
Published by Gaurav Gupta