What Is An Essential Oil?


Let’s take a closer look at what an essential oil actually is. The term ‘essential oil’ can be a bit confusing once you start to research aromatherapy, so I hope to clarify that definition before we start adding more terms. Essential oils got their name from two basic observations. First they were believed to be essential to the life of the plant. Second, they didn’t mix with water, so therefore it must be an oil. Right? Well, almost. It is hydrophobic (doesn’t mix with water) but it is not a true oil–it doesn’t contain any fat. This is important to know because later on we will be talking more about true oils for massage and as “carriers”. Aromatherapy is practiced using essential oils and absolutes via diffusion or topical application. All essential oil applications require a “carrier” system or ingredient. Diffusion is the application of essential oils through inhalation. No physical contact is made with the essential oils. The “carrier” in this case is simply air. There are different types of diffusers that can be used. Which is best is a matter of personal preference and the quality of the equipment you choose. For basic uses, a cotton ball or tissue is enough to hold a drop or two of essential oil to inhale from time to time. Topical applications (applying directly to the skin) require the most attention to choosing, whether your are purchasing a product that contains essential oils or one that you want to add essential oils to. The product itself would be considered the “carrier”. A carrier can be water, a vegetable oil ( which are used for massage), a lotion, or any other personal care product. I’ll cover oils in depth in the next section.

Alchemista Aromatherapy Sanctuary

6955 North Oracle Road,

Tucson, AZ 85704

Phone. 520-867-6501