With the increased awareness of natural products, more people are asking questions about the difference between essential oils and extracts. Both have an important role in natural wellness products used in everything from aromatherapy to tea, and the correct process is essential in getting the most out of these natural substances.
The main differences between essential oils and extracts is the process. While both are extracted from different parts of the plant, the process is very different. Essential oils need to be extracted through distillation, while extracts are soaked in a liquid to isolate the flavour.
Oils that are collected from the aromatic parts of flowers, roots and leaves are know as essential oils. These oils are concentrated in nature and are prepared by steam distillation. The parts of the plant are placed inside a steam chamber, steam is released over the parts of the plant and oils are collected by squeezing under steam pressure. The extracted substances are collected in the steam chamber and are cooled in a condenser. The condenser creates water and separates the oil into a concentrated form.
With extracts, the plants go through a straining process, where the collected substance becomes concentrated. This can also be done by grinding the plant. The most common process of extraction is herbal tea, while tinctures require the plant matter to be soaked in alcohol for a long period of time to remove the essential compounds.
Each method removes the most important compounds from the plants and concentrates the best of nature in a simple, easy to use substance.