3 Ways Essential Oils Are Extracted

Health & Medical Blog

Essential oils for sale are created directly from plants. Essential oils are the aromatic oils that plants make which gives them the smell that you enjoy. There are three primary processes for getting essential oils out of plants: solvent extraction, cold press, and distillation.

Solvent Extraction

There are certain plants that are very delicate and can be difficult to extract the oils from. For these types of plants, a solvent is used to aid in the extraction process. The most typical types of solvents include alcohol, acetone, hexane, and even propane. The solvent is supposed to be evaporated out of the oil as part of the extraction process. However, whenever a solvent is used, trace amounts of the solvent may still exist in the finished product. Oils that are created using a solvent extraction process are more commonly used for perfume instead of aromatherapy.


One of the common ways that oils are extracted from plants is through the distillation process. In this process, water based steam is used to extract the oils from the plant. In some cases, the plant is actually submerged in the water and then the water is steamed away.

Heat is used to create the steam, with the herbs resting on top of the steam. The steam passes through the herbs and the oils are extracted from the herbs via the steam, and the vaporized oil is then carried over to a condensing chamber, resulting in the water being removed from the the mixture, creating highly concentrated essential oils.

The use of water and steam to remove the oils from plants is extremely common. The distillation process is used on roots, flowers, barks, and leaves that contain essential oils. It is a very straightforward and pure process that doesn't introduce anything beyond water into the oils as they are being extracted.

Cold Press

The second most common way to extract essential oils is through the cold press process. With the cold press process, the oils are essentially squeezed out of the plants. This is commonly used on plants with thicker skin, such as citrus based plants, like orange. The oils are pressed or squeezed out of the skin or peels of the fruit. A little juice may get mixed in during the pressing process, but is filtered out so that only oils are left behind.

Examples of essential oils that use this process include lemons, grapefruits, tangerines, limes and oranges.

The most common and pure ways to extract essential oils are the distillation process using steam and the cold press process, where the oils are literally squeezed out. The solvent extraction process introduces an additional solvent into the process, and is the least common way that essential oils are created. 


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