Essential Oils

 

Au naturale!

 

I started using essential oils back in 2003.  I noticed shortly after that my nose became more sensitive to perfume and fragrances.  Anything with perfume or fragrance overwhelms my olfactory sense.  Sometimes so much so that I can’t be near it.  If I wear perfume, I have to choose something very light.

Essential oils are versatile.  You can use them for pure aroma in a diffuser or as an air freshener.  You can use them to stimulate senses.  Help your body fight infection.  Heal your body.  Natural perfume.  Clean.  Scent personal care products.  Cook.  Yes, cook.  You’d use it just like extracts, only you need less.

Most essential oils are extracted through steam distillation.  Think back to chemistry class.  One of the by-products is hydrosols, I’d call it infused water.  I use lavender hydrosol for my facial toner.  I’ve used rose hydrosol as a drink mixed with honey and some other essential oils to help clear my lungs of an infection.  I actually read up on the process when I got into aromatherapy because I thought, how cool would it be to make my own?  Uber cool.  I just don’t have the space for it and I rather suck at growing anything.  My garden last year did not produce any fruit or vegetables.  It did produce some pretty green plants.  *sigh*  I even killed the herbs in my AeroGarden.  Eventually.  I was able to harvest enough fresh herbs to make it worthwhile for the most part.  By the time we have a house, I will have the greenest thumb around.

Other essential oils, like citrus oils, can only be extracted through expeller cold pressing.  Much like olive oil. There is also solvent extraction which requires the use of a solvent to extract the oil due to the volatile and/or fragile nature of the essential oil.  Doing it any other way would destroy the essential oil.

If you’ve ever looked into prices of essential oils, you know they generally have different costs.  It is usually based on how much of the raw product was required to make the essential oil.  Rose oil is pretty expensive stuff just because it takes so much to make such a small amount of it.  If you ever find a cheap rose oil, don’t rush to buy it.  Double check the label.  Some companies pre-dilute it with a carrier oil.  Same goes for jasmine oil.

Essential oils also vary in viscosity.  This is important to know if you are pouring it out or using a euro dropper (dropper inserted into the bottle which allows you to dispense it a drop at a time without having to use a separate dropper).  I like using euro droppers.  It is easier for me to be able to open a bottle an upend it and count the drops.  There is also less waste when using euro droppers.  Low viscosity oils will drop out faster.  Higher viscosity oils take their time.  Some of the high viscosity oils are so thick that a euro dropper is useless.

Essential oils are fun to play with when you are learning how to use them and how many ways you can use them.  Even after you know what you’re doing, they are still fun.  Make sure you store your oils in a cool, dark place and that they are stored in dark bottles.  The bottle pictured is called an Amber Boston Round.  There are cobalt bottles you can use, too.  Light will leach all the healthy properties of the oil.  Some health food stores sell a limited variety of good bottles for essential oils.  I get mine from Specialty Bottle.  They have built-in discounts for buying more.

Health food stores also carry a small variety of essential oils. I mostly see Aura Cacia and NOW brands.  Both are good brands.  Aura Cacia is higher in quality and more expensive.  I get most of my oils from Camden Grey online.  They have a large selection and I tend to get other supplies from them as well.  I can get larger amounts of an oil there, too.  Aura Cacia usually comes in 1/3 ounce bottles and NOW in 1 ounce bottles.  If I know I’m going to use a lot, I can get them in 2 ounce, 4 ounce, 8 ounce, 1 pound, 5 pound quantities.

I love using essential oils and having them on hand for whatever I may need.  I also feel better about using them to clean in place of commercial cleaning products.  Nothing toxic!  Well, there are some that you shouldn’t use or ingest, but I don’t even own those, so I’m safe.

 

Sugar Scrub

 

Mixing up the scrub

 

While I’m working on developing some recipes I figured I’d share some more of my aromatherapy arsenal.

How many of you spend a bunch of money on brand name exfoliation products?  Heck, even generic products can be expensive.  Chances are, you have at least one ingredient in your pantry that you can use.  Sugar.

I like to mix mine with vegetable glycerin that I buy from Camden Grey.  I buy most of my stock for my personal care products/aromatherapy from Camden Grey.  If you decide to use them, let them know I referred you when you check out. 😀

You can use equal parts sugar and vegetable glycerin with some essential oils.  Sometimes I’ll use a 2 to 1 sugar to glycerin ratio.  Depends on how I feel.  I use about 10 drops per 2 tablespoons of sugar.  The sugar and glycerin tend to separate when you store it.  I’m sure I could find a way to emulsify the two so the sugar stays suspended, but I I like keeping it simple and I don’t mind give it a little mix with my finger when I’m ready to use it.

 

The finished product

 

I use the sugar scrub about 3 times per week after washing my face.  Just enough to cover the first third of my finger.  My face always feels refreshed and invigorated when I’m done.

For this scrub I made for the pictures, I used a lavender synergistic blend I keep premixed.  How can I have a lavender blend?  I used several different types of lavender.  Yes, like fruits and vegetables, there is more than one type of lavender.  I have several synergistic blends I keep premixed.  My lavender and Heavenly blends are my favorites to use.  Granny loved my Citrus Pick Me up blend.  Stick loves my Orange Blossom blend.  Auntie C loves my Heavenly blend.  Auntie J loves my Rose Bushes & Lavender Fields Blend.  My mother-in-law loves my Sandal Patch blend.  If you’re wondering, I am planning on using the blends to mess around with perfuming.  🙂   The key to using essential oils with your products when you are just using them for scenting is to use the ones that make you smile when you inhale.  Yes, you must inhale.  It’s good for you.  Trust me on this.

Let me explain synergistic blends real quick for those of you who just read the above paragraph and feel a little lost.  Synergistic blends are simply a mix of different pure essential oils blended before diluting them in a carrier such as oil, soap, lotion or glycerin.  Blending them before using them in a product or even in an aromatherapy diffuser gives them time to work together for a bigger punch.  This is especially helpful when you are using essential oils for the sole purpose of aromatherapy.  The best way to blend them is to add them together in an bottle (like I have pictured above), cap it, then roll it between your palms.  Essential oils have different weights so if you hold it up while doing this you can see them swirling and blending together.  If rolling it doesn’t feel enough to you, turn it upside down once when your done, then upright it.  Easy.  Simple.  Done.

Back to the scrub.  There is another exfoliation product that I love to use, but I can’t take credit for it because I got it from a YouTube video that Bunny showed me.  It’s an aspirin mask.  Simple and cheap.  Uncoated aspirin, a few drops of water, and some honey.  That is all, folks.

Happy exfoliating!

Oh Happy Mistake

Melting the oil mix together in a double boiler

I started making my own lotion back before I started making my own soap.  I tried making my own recipe from what I learned from all my reading.  All I got was a gunky mess that didn’t do anything for me.  So, like any good person who thinks, “Nothing wrong with something tried and true,” I went on a search and found a recipe online I felt was do-able.  I made this lotion for a while, but there were a couple of things I was not happy with.  One, it was a little to oily.  My elbow would hit my car window 30 minutes after application while getting in the car (don’t ask how it would happen, it just always seemed to happen) and it would leave an imprint on the window.  Two, if it got warmer than 70 degrees, it would separate.  I kept meaning to mess with the recipe.  I knew it had to do with my emulsifier.  I just kept putting it off and putting off.  I had to stop procrastinating since I used up the last of the body butter I made several months ago and I can’t just go buy lotion anymore because of the gluten.

Wednesday, I had to buckle up and make some lotion, but I didn’t really have any back up to use if I played around with the recipe and it turned out wrong.  I used my tried and true recipe.

I discovered halfway through measuring out the oil mix together to melt that I had measured out too much emulsifying wax.  OH CRAP!  Good one, Debi. I stood looking over the bowl with the measuring spoon in my hand as I was getting ready to measure some shea butter.  Do I scrap the entire mix and start over or just keep going? Well, I used a lot of avocado oil and I didn’t want to waste it.  I kept on going.

Emulsification of the water mix and oil mix

I wish I could have taken pictures or video while I was pouring the oil mix into the water and whisking it together.  Alas, I haven’t grown that elusive extra hand to manage a bowl, a whisk, and a camera at the same time.  All I can give you is this picture of what it looked like after the oil was fully poured and I was still whisking it all together.

I was praying when I first started mixing the two together that this wouldn’t flop.  It would be an awful waste of avocado oil.  I noticed that it was thicker than the original recipe as it emulsified.  The original recipe always yielded a fluffy mousse-like (the mousse you eat, not put in your hair) consistency.  The mistake yielded a thick pudding consistency much like you buy from the store in those big bottles.   HALLELUJAH!

This is the type of lotion I’ve wanted to make for years.  I won’t know if it will separate for a while since my apartment won’t see above 70 until Springtime.  I have a feeling it won’t separate, though.

I had to pour it in a wide mouth jar so I didn't waste any on a funnel to bottle it

I’m going to share the recipe of my happy mistake with you because I know I have some readers who are delving into this area.

Debi’s Creamy Lotion

3/4 cup avocado oil (or other carrier oil like jojoba, borage, grapeseed, etc.)

2 teaspoons stearic acid

1 tablespoon emulsifying wax

1 tablespoon shea butter (or other butter like cocoa, mango, avocado, etc.)

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon borax

1/8th teaspoon grapeseed extract

15 drops your choice of essential oil(s)

Add oil, stearic acid, emulsifying wax, and shea butter to a double boiler and melt together.  Meanwhile boil the water and add the borax and mix together.  Once the oil mix is melted, add the grapeseed extract (this works as a natural preservative to prevent bacterial growth) and essential oil.  You can use more than 15 drops if you want a heavier aroma.  I like to keep it light.  Slowly pour the oil mix into the water mix while whisking together.  You can also use a hand mixer.  I’ve found using a whisk gives you more control and feel for the lotion.  Once the lotion forms stiff peaks, pour into a wide mouth jar or into a bottle through a funnel.

My favorite essential oil synergistic blend is something I call, Heavenly. I keep a little bottle mixed so I can just add it to any personal care product or to my aromatherapy diffuser.  It’s a mix of Sandalwood, Clove, and Ylang Ylang essential oils.

If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make one with a pot and a metal bowl like I do.  Just add some water to a pot on the stove and place the metal bowl on top.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the bottom of the pot.