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Difference between essence and essential oil: what is an essential oil and what is an essence? Production techniques and differences in meaning.
The meaning of essencediffers from that ofessential oilfor manufacturing techniques only. The difference lies in a simple technicality so in the common jargon the two terms can be used synonymously.
Difference between essence and essential oil
Foressencewe refer to the set of various chemical constituents present in the organelles of the plant, in its organs of synthesis, collection and secretion, namely in the "fruits".
Essential oil defines exactly the same group of substances but when these are extracted from other parts of the plant such as flowers, leaves and bark.
Typically, thedifferences between essential oil and essencecan also be reduced in terms of extraction techniques:
- - for the production ofessences the technique of cold pressing.
- - for the production ofessential oils steam distillation is generally used
- - in some cases the active ingredients are extracted with a solvent enfleurage process. With this extraction technique we speak ofabsolute oils.
The differences between the two terms are only useful when more essential oils are obtained from the same plants.
To give a practical example, let's talk about the chemical components extracted from orange.
When it comes toessence of orangeit refers to the essential oil obtained by cold pressing of the orange peel.
On the contrary, if we talk aboutessential oil of orange, if the term is used without different clarifications, it will refer to the essential oil obtained with the steam distillation technique of twigs and leaves of the same plant.
Still, we can talk aboutabsolute orange oiland this time we refer to Neroli oil extracted with a process of enfluage of orange blossoms.
Essential oils and steam distillation
Steam distillation consists in the extraction of the aromatic particles of the plant through the heat of water vapor.
Flowers, leaves, bark, branches, roots ... do not come into direct contact with the water but with the steam produced by the water itself. The hot steam will extract the active ingredients and oncecondensedwill give rise to a mixture called hydrosol, often known asfloral water. Hydrolates are mixtures given by water and essential oils, once extracted, all that remains is to separate the concentrated active ingredients from the aqueous component.
Essences and cold pressing
Theessencesthey are the same active principles of the plants but this time they are extracted with a process ofcold pressing, very different from the extraction with heat current that takes advantage of high temperatures.
The fruits of the plants cannot undergo the distillation process and for this they comecold pressed, that is to say that the fruit is reduced into a mixture from which theessential oil which in this case is calledessence. Normally the temperature used for extraction is between 27 ° C and 49 ° C to preserve as much nutrients as possible and ensure better quality of the oil.
Differences between Essences, essential oils and absolute oils
As anticipated, sometimes the chemical constituents extracted from plants in oily solution are calledabsolute oils. In these cases, the extraction technique used involves the use of solvents.
Solvent extraction (enfleurage) often uses ethanol. The plant parts of the plant are treated with ethanol (or other solvent) in order to extract the active ingredients contained in them. Finally, the solvent is removed by evaporation at room temperature (ethanol, as well as the other solvents used, is extremely volatile) so what remains is theoil pure obtained from the plant.
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The diagram above shows the steam current extraction process described by the essential oil manufacturerNaissance.