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What are Essential Oils?
An essential oil is described as a volatile material derived by a physical process from an odorous plant material of a single botanical species.
Where do they come from?
Essential oils occur in the plant kingdom in flowers, leaves, roots, stems, bark and fruit. Often a plant that produces an essential oil may do so in only one part, such as jasmine from the flowers. Others, like the bitter orange tree, produce three different essential oils: petitgrain from the leaves, neroli from the flowers and bitter orange from the fruit.
What are they used for?
Often the use of essential oils is associated with aromatherapy. However, this accounts for only about 5% of essential oils produced in the world.
The primary users are:
What are their main functions?
Each oil is unique in its chemical structure. Some, like the rose, have over 200 chemical compounds. The essential oil is a byproduct that is produced through the metabolism of the plant. Its functions are to attract pollinating insects, prevent damage from animals, act as a cooling mechanism and to protect against viral attack.
How do they work for us?
All pure unadulterated essential oils have one common property: they are all antiseptic. From that point, each oil offers a variety of unique properties such as being an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, bactericide, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, deodorant, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, emollient, expectorant, fungicide, germicidal, hypertensive, hypnotic, hypotensive, insecticide, mucolytic, nervine, relaxant, rubefacient sedative, soporific, stimulant, sudorific, vasoconstrictor, vasodilator and vulnerary.
Are all essential oils organic?
Basically yes, they are organic in chemical structure. However, the plants that essential oils are derived from are not necessarily grown organically or pesticide free. The oil must be “certified organic” by one of the governing soil associations, deemed to be grown in organic soil and pesticide free. This certification takes place every year - soil and plant material must be tested.
What Exactly Is a Vegetable Oil?
All vegetable oils are defined as lipids and are mainly composed of fatty acids. Fatty acids are the major building blocks of fat in human bodies and foods and are important sources of energy for the body. They are also important in the building and maintenance of healthy cells.
Saturated Fatty Acids
Saturated fatty acids are mostly of animal origin such as red meat and dairy products and tend to be solid at room temperature. (e.g. lard, butter, cheese). The three most common saturated fats in food are myristic, palmitic and stearic acids.
Physically these acids are liquid at room temperature. They are found in olive oil (mono) and safflower seed, sunflower seed, sesame, soybean, wheatgerm and corn (poly). They contain linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids which are collectively known as essential fatty acids because they are essential to life. None of these are produced by the body and must be obtained from outside sources.
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) are called the Omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid is the main omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and is found in most cold pressed vegetable oils. A deficiency of linoleic acid can lead to eczema-like skin eruptions, loss of hair, excessive sweating with thirst, susceptibility to infections, poor wound healing, arthritis, and heat and circulatory problems.
Alpha linolenic acid is found in high concentrations in vegetable oils such as linseed and canola. When it is metabolized in the body, linolenic acid forms a number of members of the omega-3 fatty acid family. A deficiency of linolenic acid is known to cause muscular weakness, lack of co-ordination, tingling of arms and legs, disturbances of vision and behavioural changes.
I noticed that some of your products contain vegetable wax. Is this dangerous?
The vegetable wax used in our products is a natural wax derived from palm and coconut oil. It contains no other ingredients. Sometimes vegetable waxes are referred to as Lanette wax. One form of Lanette wax (Lanette S) contains SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate). We have never used this form of Lanette wax.
What is GeoGard Ultra?
Geogard® Ultra (INCI name: Gluconolactone and sodium benzoate) is a natural preservative that has been designed to offer broad spectrum protection in personal care and cosmetic formulations. It consists of a naturally occurring food additive (glucono delta lactone,) derived from corn, and a food grade preservative (sodium benzoate, the sodium salt of benzoic acid) along with a trace amount of calcium gluconate as a processing agent. Geogard® Ultra is accepted by ECOCERT as a preservative in certified organic cosmetics. The gluconolactone component is used in the food and cosmetic industry as a moisturizer, antioxidant and chelant. Gluconolactone is not derived from genetically-modified crops. The microorganisms used in the fermentation process are not genetically modified.
This natural preservative is globally approved at formulations of 2% (which would result in only 0.495% sodium benzoate). We use 1.0% to 1.1% Geogard® Ultra in all of our formulations that require a preservative.