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JSF Logo WIDE copyIn my last blog post you learned all about the differences between homeopathy and herbalism. I discussed a number of topics and product types including essential oils and infused oils. Many people believe that infused oils and essential oils are relatively the same thing. In reality, the way these products are made are very different.

Infused Medicinal Herbal Oil

An oil infusion is a mixture of medicinal herbs in a fixed oil menstruum- (A solvent, especially one used in extracting compounds from plant). Olive oil is usually the solvent of choice for most oil infusions because it has a much more stable monounsaturated chemical structure, which provides a good level of stability when at room temperature. Olive oil is far more preferred than say almond oil or flax seed oil. Jojoba oil is being used more recently but it carries a higher price point making it often undesirable.

The Process

The process of infusing herbs into an oil can be done in a couple of different manners. Dried herbs can be used, as can fresh herbs. Dried herbs are infused by way of the digestion method, the cold method or the hot infusion method. Each of these processes (which are all used in the process of making Just Skin Food products) let the herbs infuse long enough that the medicinal properties are captured. Cold infusion (or fresh herb infusion) allows the herb to wilt for about 12 hours and then they are chopped up. The heat is what is used in order to extract the medicinal properties of the item.

Double infusion can also take place, which means that after infusion is done the IMG_5996-400x300first time, it is done again in order to incorporate new herbs and make the infusion stronger. No matter what method is used for infusion, the herbs typically sit for a few weeks at a time for proper infusion. At that point the herb or plant is removed, leaving behind only the oil. There are times where the herb is left inside of the oil to continue to infuse, and the longer the infusion, the stronger and more potent the oil.

Herbal oils are beneficial because they require very little plant material to make while an essential oil consumes large amounts of plant material.  Also, the infused oils that are created for medicinal purposes can be used to make other products such as salves in order to reap the benefits that way. This is not the case for many essential oils, which can be toxic if consumed and many essential oils also cause skin irritation when used topically.

 

Essential Oils

An essential oil is quite different. This oil comes directly from the plant or herb that it is made out of and there is no carrier oil involved. This means the product is much more concentrated.

The Process

There are three basic methods by which essential oils are produced and they include steam distillation (the most common and most affordable), expression imagesand also extraction. During the process of steam distillation the plant is exposed to steam. This heat causes the essential oil in the plant to evaporate. When the hot vapors are cooled, this results in condensation of water vapor and the oil. These two products do not mix together so they can be easily separated. A few drops of the concentrated oil is then supposed to be diluted into a carrier oil. It is always best to use essential oils with the help of a homeopath, naturopath or herbalist  who can direct you on the right way to use a product. 1 drop of peppermint essential oil is like drinking 30 cups of peppermint tea. Caution must be taken.

Undiluted essential oils have an incredible healing ability when used properly and sparingly without causing any harm. We use them in some of our products as well since essential oils will reinforce therapeutic affects by adding more power to the finished product but never in any of our Infused Herbal Oils.

More information on organic infused oils and essential oils can be found on the Just Skin Food website. Currently nine different certified organic herbal oils are part of the Just Skin Food product line and they are all made with certified organic herbs as well as organic olive oil. Four organic essential oils are available as well.

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