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What are Essential Oils

Essential oils are all-natural wellness products derived from raw plant material.

Keep scrolling to learn more.

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The Essential Life

What are Essential Oils?

by britten thompson

Essential oils are the aromatic compounds found in raw plant material and can be extracted from the flowers, leaves, stems, roots, bark, resin and seeds of plants. In the case of most citrus fruits, the essential oil is extracted from the peel.

For millennia, essential oils have been used to improve health and promote holistic wellness. They are also a great, chemical-free addition to your beauty routine.

When we break down essential oils to their molecular level, we see that each essential oil is composed of natural chemical constituents which work together to give trees, plants, flowers and fruits their powerful therapeutic properties.

Essential oils are what is known as secondary metabolites. This is in contrast to primary metabolites which are essential to meeting a plants basic needs (photosynthesis etc). Secondary metabolites are the adaptations which provide the plant with protection from predators and other things that might threaten its survival. Essential oils are also what promote the plants reproduction and attract pollinators.


There are two main methods used to extract essential oils from raw plant material and these are: steam distillation and cold pressing.

Cold pressed essential oils

Cold pressing is used exclusively when extracting the essential oil from the rind of a citrus fruit.

Steam distilled essential oils

Steam distillation and cold pressing result in 100% therapeutic grade essential oils. This means, while the yield of essential oil from the raw plant matter might be lower, no chemicals or solvents have been used in the creation of the essential oil.

In some instances, especially in the case of precious oils like rose and jasmine, chemical solvents can be used to extract more essential oil from the raw plant material. These essential oils are called absolutes. They are created to make the therapeutic powers of precious oils more affordable.

Another way of making precious essential oils more affordable is to create an essential oil dilution in a carrier oil. To do this, The Essential Life recommends creating a 3% dilution in jojoba oil (if you are going to use this in your aromatherapy diffuser, we recommend sticking to jojoba oil as the carrier oil). When using dilutions, however, use the oil sparingly in your diffuser and be sure to clean your diffuser out with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water after each use.


As was mentioned earlier, essential oils are the secondary metabolites of the plants they are extracted from and they are responsible for keeping the plant protected and flourishing.

In the example of tea tree essential oil, it is a plant that is native to the hot and humid areas of Australia. In order to thrive in an environment rich in moulds, algae and bacteria, the plant needed to develop antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties. When tea tree essential oil is extracted from raw plant material, these natural therapeutic properties are extracted as well.

When it comes to use on our bodies and in our homes, essential oils have the same therapeutic properties.

Continuing with the example of tea tree essential oil, we can use tea tree in and around our home to kill bacteria and keep microbes and germs at bay.

Another property of essential oils that make them a powerful tool when it comes to promoting our health and wellness is how small each oil is at the molecular level. The extraordinarily small size of essential oil particles makes it possible for the oil to be easily absorbed through our skin and allows them to pass directly into the bloodstream when applied topically.

Their small molecular size also means that, when used in an aromatherapy diffuser, tiny essential oil particles are diffused into the air on water particles which have been broken down by ultrasonic vibrations in the diffuser.

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If you would like to start your own aromatherapy collection, We recommend purchasing essential oils from our affiliates on Amazon. Click here to shop now.


The Essential Life is dedicated to helping you get the most out of every last drop of your essential oils. To this end, we share as much information as we can about essential oils, including how to use them, how to blend them and so much more.

If you haven’t found what you’re looking for here on our website, please contact us and let us know how we can help you get more out of your essential oils.