HARVESTING ESSENTIAL OILS
When harvesting the raw material, from which essential oils are extracted, timing is very important. The work begins around 4:30 a.m. in Madagascar, where they harvest the blossoms of the ylang-ylang tree; in France, where they grow Jasmine; in Bulgaria, where they pick the damask rose. By 9:30 a.m., the essential oil content of the petals are reduced by as much as 50%.
These precious flowers must have their petals processed immediately after harvest. Many essential oil producing flowering tops and leaves, such as: chamomile and lavender, are dried and shipped to other countries for distillation.
Essential oil moves around plants, not only on a daily basis, but on a seasonal one, as well. Palmarosa essential oil is made from a grass that must be harvested before its flowers appear; Clove oil is made from flower buds after they have been picked and dried; Pepper essential oil is made from the unripe berries; Coriander is harvested when it is fully ripe. The delicate, white jasmine flower is carefully picked before it is one day old; the sandalwood tree must be thirty years old and thirty feet high before its essential oil is fully developed.
It takes eight million hand-picked jasmine blooms to make one kilogram of ‘absolute’ from which the essential oil is made. Skill is required to coax the essential oil from the particular part of the plant in which it resides. Fennel and Aniseed store their essential oil in the intercellular spaces in their tissue. Some species have particular oil cells, or resin cells, like Cassia and Cinnamon. Lemons and Oranges form oil reservoirs when the walls of secretory cells gradually disintegrate. Other plants, like rosemary and sage, have glandular hairs, glandular cells, or glandular scales on their surfaces that contain pockets full of essential oil.
Extraction methods include: steam distillation, expression, and solvent extraction. Depending on the extraction method used, some essential oils can be expensive. They are worth the price. One doesn’t need a great deal of an essential oil; usually 3 to 10 drops, per use. Essential oils are truly the most concentrated life essences known to man.
Essential oils are a part of world-wide trade, coming from diverse destinations: Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Java, Reunion, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Zanzibar, and more.
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Scents & Scentuality
By Valerie Ann Worwood