When you don’t know the difference between essential oils and other oils the two words ‘breathe’ and ‘oil’ together sound like a recipe for disaster. But when you understand what essential oils are, you can start to realize how essential oils can enhance your life. When you hear the word ‘oil’ you likely think of motor oils, cooking oils or oil paints. These technically are all oils but vary greatly in their composition, so what really is an ‘essential oil’?
What are Essential Oils?
An ‘oil’ is defined by being ‘any nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic (does not mix with water, literally "water fearing") and lipophilic (mixes with other oils, literally "fat loving")’. So while essential oils do meet these criteria, they also vary greatly from many of the things that we typically call ‘oils’ such as cooking oil, oil paint or motor oil. Essential oils are fragrant components of plants extracted from a plant’s leaves, roots, bark, and other aromatic components. These aromatic plant oils are highly volatile (easily airborne at normal temperatures) and can come from a wide variety of natural sources.
Fatty oils (cooking oils) are extracted from the fatty portions of a plant, such as seeds, nuts, or kernels, to create an oil composed of fatty acids. Whereas essential oils are distilled from leaves, roots, bark and other aromatic portions of plants. Fatty oils are very soluble, whereas essential oils are very volatile (easily airborne at normal temperatures.). This means that essential oils easily evaporate into the air, while fatty oils are closer to being solid and do not evaporate. The volatile nature of essential oils makes them much easier to smell in comparison to fatty oils.
So while Essential oils are by definition ‘oils’ its helpful to realize that essential oils have properties that are drastically different than most other substances we think which are defined as being ‘oils’. These plant oils can benefit the human body through naturally supporting body functions, such as immunity, cognitive processing, and emotional health. Inhalation makes the benefits of essential oils easily accessible, and FUM makes benefiting from essential oils easy.