Essential oils are distilled from plant leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, barks and resins, or are expressed from the rinds of citrus fruits. It generally takes at least 50 pounds of plant material to make one pound of essential oil (for example, a pound of rosemary oil requires sixty-six pounds of herb), but the ratio is sometimes astonishing - it takes 2,300 pounds of rose flowers to make a single pound of oil!
Because they contain no fatty acids, essential oils are not susceptible to rancidity like vegetable oils - but protect them from the degenerative effects of heat, light and air, store them in tightly sealed, dark glass bottles away from any heat source. Properly stored oils can maintain their quality for years. (citrus oils are less stable and should not be stored longer than six months after opening.
You can have fun and save money by creating your own body care products.
Treat your skin to the benefits of lavender, chamomile, rosemary, geranium and sandalwood by adding a few drops of the desired fragrance to a bottle of your favorite skin cleanse, moisturizer, mask or toner.
Give your self a hair treatment by putting a teaspoon of rosemary (for dark hair) or chamomile (for light hair) in a 12-ounce bottle of shampoo or conditioner. For a montly treatment blend a half teaspoon of rosemary (or chamomile) and lavender oils into 4 ounces of jojoba oil. Apply sparingly at night to your scalp and hair. (Store leftover blend in the refrigerator). Wash your hair thoroughly the next morning and enjoy the extra body and highlights the essential oils give.
Blending your own massage oils is easy. Just combing your favorite scents (1-3%) with vegetable base oils such as sweet almond, grapeseed, or apricot kernal.
Try your hand at perfuming! Experiment by combining your favorite essential oils - one drop at a time - with high proof vodka (or Everclear if you can find it). Use blotting paper to test each blend. As you approach your fragrance goal, begin testing on your own skin to create a personalized scent.
Use essential oils to blend your own potpourri fragrances, and to scent air fresheners, candles and sachets. Or try two or three drops in the rinse water when hand washing clothes. With an understanding of basic techniques and precautions, the possibilities are as unlimited as your imagination.
Because of their consistent flavoring and easy storage, essential oils are often used in food manufacturing. Home cooks can enjoy these same advantages. An essential oil provides the characteristic flavor and aroma of a cooking spice, but will maintain its quality longer. Essential oils also disperse more easily in liquid ingredients.
Use them sparingly - one drop replaces a teaspoon of dried herb or spice. To improve mixing add essential oils to liquid ingredients rather than dry. Note that not all essential oils are for internal consumption. Always check to make sure the oil you're using is suitable for cooking before adding it.