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Where Do Essential Oils Come From?
WHERE ESSENTIAL OILS COME FROM Sourcing the Sweet-Smelling Stuff Call it a pseudoscientific fad or a medical revolution; either way, essential oils are more popular today than they have ever been. Though research on the efficacy of lavender, ginger, and the dozens of other sweet-smelling oils is conflicting at best, people are using them at an astonishing rate. In fact, according to Stratistics MRC, essential oils were a $5.91 billion industry in 2016 and are expected to reach $12.85 billion by 2023. Whether you’re an essential oil acolyte or fly into a rage at the faintest hint of bergamot, your mind is probably already made up about aromatherapy. The question remains, though: Where does all this delicious-smelling stuff come from? Most essential oils are derived from a process called steam distillation . Soon after harvest, the plants are placed on a mesh inside a sealed still, into which steam is injected. As the steam rises
Tea Tree oil comes from the leaves of melaleuca alternifolia , commonly known as narrow-leaved paperbark, a short, bushy tree that produces white, fluffy flowers in the spring. The trees are endemic to Australia, but today are usually farmed in New South Wales or Queensland. Bergamot is distilled from the peels of lime- green bergamot oranges, or citrus bergamia . Most of it comes from coastal areas around the Ionian Sea. Whatever you do with it, use it sparingly on your skin — it can amplify skin damage from the sun!
and envelops the plant, it breaks it down and lifts its constituent components up through a tube and into a condenser. The condenser cools the resulting vapor and collects it in liquid form at the bottom. Since essential oils do not mix with water, they float on the surface, where they’re siphoned off, bottled, and shipped off to a distributor. There are other methods, such as expression (aka cold pressing), but because steam distillation is so easy to do, most essential oils you see on the shelf will have gone through this process. Lavender essential oil is harvested from sheaves of lavandula angustifolia , that purple herb you see all over gardens across the United States. There are lavender farms all over the world, from California to Japan to Brazil, but the biggest world producer of lavender is, interestingly, Bulgaria.
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