"Luxury is a state of mind".
Expensive essential oils embody a luxurious olfactory experience. Picture the elusive Damask roses, yielding drops of Rose Otto essential oil with an intoxicating aroma that epitomizes romance. Venture into moonlit groves for Jasmine Absolute, a fragrance derived from handpicked jasmine blossoms, capturing the essence of nocturnal allure. These opulent essences, whether Melissa, Neroli, or Helichrysum, carry narratives of botanical rarity and artisanal craftsmanship, their prices reflecting the dedication of loving labor and the delicacy of nature's aromatic treasures.
Embracing these elixirs is embarking on a sensory journey where each drop unveils stories of distant landscapes. Each scent is a tribute to the artistry of nature and the alchemy of extraction. In the world of expensive essential oils, every drop is a masterpiece, encapsulating the very soul of flora in a luxurious olfactory symphony.
Why are these oils so expensive? First a little explanation of distillation.
Steam distillation is a widely used method for extracting essential oils from plant materials. Steam passes through the plant material, causing the essential oil to evaporate with the steam. The steam and essential oil mixture is then condensed back into a liquid, with the essential oil separating from the water. The final product is a concentrated form of the essential oil, which can be collected and used for various purposes. The leftover water is called a hydrosol. Steam distillation is favored for its efficiency in preserving the aromatic compounds of the plant while avoiding the use of harsh solvents.
Effleurage is a traditional technique used in the extraction of essential oils from delicate flowers, such as jasmine or rose. This method involves gently pressing the flowers onto a layer of odorless, solid fat or oil. As the flowers are pressed, the essential oils are transferred to the fat, creating an infused mixture. Over time, the fat absorbs the aromatic compounds from the flowers. This process is repeated with fresh flowers until the fat is saturated with the desired fragrance. Finally, the scented fat is dissolved in alcohol to extract the essential oil, leaving behind a highly concentrated and fragrant product. Effleurage is valued for its ability to capture delicate floral scents without subjecting the flowers to heat or steam, keeping the properties of these fragile botanicals intact.
In aromatherapy, Absolutes refer to highly concentrated, aromatic substances extracted from plant materials, typically flowers, using a solvent extraction method. Unlike essential oils obtained through processes like steam distillation, absolutes are derived through a more intricate process.
The extraction of absolutes involves immersing the plant material, often delicate flowers, in a solvent, such as hexane or ethanol. This solvent dissolves the essential oils present in the plant, creating a highly concentrated solution. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving behind a thick, waxy substance known as the absolute. The final product retains the complex fragrance of the original plant material.
Absolutes are commonly used in aromatherapy and perfumery for their rich and true-to-nature scents. They are particularly favored when dealing with flowers that may not withstand the high temperatures associated with steam distillation. Popular examples of absolutes include rose absolute, jasmine absolute, and tuberose absolute. It's important to note that while absolutes are prized for their aromatic qualities, some may contain trace amounts of the solvent used in the extraction process, and they are generally used in diluted forms in aromatherapy applications. Make sure you make note of what solvent is used for extraction when you’re buying absolutes.
A Few Considerations
Red flags on essential oils that are all the same price.
Ever noticed prices for different essential oils vary greatly? The price of essential oils is directly tied to the cost of the plant material, the plant material to essential oil yield ratio, and how labor-intensive the method of extraction is.
Most oils that are expensive are made from small, delicate flowers when a lot of plant material is needed for a small amount of oil. Be very wary of any cheap floral oils. The chances that these are authentic oils are very slim. Most likely they are fragrance oils or adulterated with carriers.
We all know it’s hard to gauge size when you buy online. Many of these oils start coming in 5 ml. The bottle may look great online, but this is only .17 of an ounce or about 100 drops of essential oil. It’s a great size if you just want to splurge a little, know that when it shows up it’s shocking how small those bottles are.
Overall Methods for using Expensive oils
Thankfully with most of these oils, a little goes a very long way. When using in a blend one or two drops are all you need. Most of these oils come as a 3% dilution in jojoba oil. When you order a 1 oz bottle about a 5th of a teaspoon is the essential oil, and the rest of the 97% is jojoba oil.
If your recipe calls for water, consider using the hydrosol of the plant instead. Hydrosols aren't exactly like essential oils, but they share some similar properties. Rose water and orange blossom water make fantastic facial toners in their own right. I don't whip up lotions all the time, but when I do, it's always in small batches. And let me tell you, using a floral hydrosol like rose, jasmine, or orange blossom instead of plain water gives your lotion an extra boost. You still get all the plant benefits without breaking the bank on a $200 bottle of lotion. It's a win-win!
Oh, here's another cool trick: if your recipe calls for water, you can brew up an herbal tea and use that instead. Think of using herbs like Melissa, rose, or jasmine. They work wonders in adding some extra botanical goodness to your final product. It's like giving your formulation an herbal infusion, and it adds a unique touch to your creations!
Using Plant Material
Keep in mind, that a big chunk of the cost of essential oils comes from the hefty amount of plant material needed to produce just a tiny bit of oil. But hey, you can still harness the benefits by using the actual plant material in your formulas. For example, ground-up blossoms make for a super gentle scrub that leaves your skin feeling amazing. And if you're whipping up a roll-on, try immersing some plant material in oil to kickstart the extraction process. It's a savvy way to get the most out of your ingredients and create some seriously effective products!
Substituting essential oils for the pricey ones is also a smart move. But here's the thing: when you're substituting, don't just focus on the scent alone. Take a deeper dive and consider why you wanted that specific oil in the first place. Think about its properties and what benefits it brings to your formula. Then, try to pick a substitute oil that shares similar characteristics. That way, you're not just getting the aroma you desire, but also the therapeutic properties that originally drew you to the expensive oil. It's all about making informed choices and getting the most out of your ingredients!
What are the most popular expensive oils?
Rose- $800 per oz 60,000 petals to make 1 oz. of oil
Rose essential oil offers a range of therapeutic benefits, including emotional well-being. It’s a wonderful oil to alleviate stress and anxiety. It is widely used in skincare for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, promoting a healthy complexion and potentially reducing signs of aging. Most members of the rose family are wonderful astringents. In aromatherapy, rose oil induces can alleviate headaches. Additionally, it has antibacterial and antiviral properties, supports hormonal balance, is considered an aphrodisiac, and may contribute to respiratory health.
Substitutions- There’s not much that can substitute for the divinity that is rose. However,
Palmarosa serves as a cost-effective alternative. To boot it has eco-friendly qualities as it can be cultivated efficiently, even in the wild. Rich in geraniol, a primary aroma constituent found in rose otto essential oil, palmarosa offers a similar scent profile at a more accessible price point, making it a popular choice in various applications.
Neroli- $354 per oz 1,000 lbs of orange blossom flowers to produce one pound of essential oil
Neroli essential oil, extracted from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, boasts several therapeutic benefits. This fragrant oil is known for its calming and mood-enhancing properties, making it effective in alleviating stress and anxiety. In skincare, neroli oil exhibits anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities, promoting healthy skin and aiding in the reduction of skin irritation. Its sweet and citrusy aroma is often used in aromatherapy to induce relaxation, uplift mood, and alleviate insomnia. The scent of Neroli is truly one of my favorites. Neroli essential oil is also recognized for potential hormone-balancing effects, making it beneficial for menstrual discomfort. Additionally, it possesses antioxidant properties, supporting overall well-being.
Substitutions- To substitute neroli go for a blend of floral and citrus. Petitgrain, orange, davana, lavender, ylang-ylang, or a blend of all these make wonderful choices. By exploring these alternatives, you can achieve similar aromatic and therapeutic benefits to Neroli essential oil while staying within budget constraints.
Melissa $280 per oz Three tons of lemon balm to produce about 500ml
Melissa essential oil, derived from Melissa officinalis, offers versatile benefits. Known for its calming and stress-relieving properties, it promotes relaxation and mental clarity. The oil supports skin health with its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, addressing skin conditions. Melissa oil is believed to have antiviral qualities, aiding immune system support, and it may also help with digestive issues.
Substitutions: Citrusy and soft, lemon, citronella, lemongrass, and verbena make lovely substitutions for Melissa's essential oil.
Jasmine $390 per oz 2,000 lbs of jasmine flowers to produce 1 lb of oil.
Jasmine essential oil, derived from the jasmine flower, offers diverse therapeutic benefits. Widely used in aromatherapy, its sweet aroma promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and uplifts mood. The oil supports skin health, moisturizing and soothing the skin with antioxidant properties. Recognized for its aphrodisiac qualities, jasmine oil enhances romantic experiences. It may also have respiratory benefits, alleviating symptoms of coughs and congestion.
Substitutions- There are a few substitutions for jasmine geranium, jasmine, bergamot, and marjoram, or patchouli are suitable substitutions for jasmine essential oil.
Helichrysum $90 per oz
Helichrysum essential oil, derived from Helichrysum italicum, is prized for its diverse therapeutic benefits. With potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it promotes skin health by soothing irritations and aiding in wound healing. Above all others, this is the one I see the most results in expediting the healing process. The oil also addresses pain, including muscle aches and headaches, and is believed to have anti-allergenic properties for respiratory relief. In aromatherapy, Helichrysum oil supports emotional well-being by reducing stress and uplifting the mood.
Substitutions- Helichrysum is a magical oil. Therepuedically yarrow is a good substitution. Lavender, tansy, chamomile, and even frankincense are good choices for substitutions.
Other Expensive Oils
Champaca- $2,200 per oz
Champaca essential oil, extracted from the Michelia champaca tree flowers, is prized for its exotic fragrance and diverse therapeutic benefits. Used in aromatherapy, it promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and enhances mood, creating a calming atmosphere for practices like meditation. Champaca oil is believed to have aphrodisiac effects, contributing to emotional well-being and romantic experiences. While traditionally associated with skincare benefits, further research is needed. Responsible use, proper dilution, and consultation, especially for individuals with specific health concerns or during pregnancy, are recommended when using champaca essential oil.
Tuberose- $1600 per oz
Tuberose essential oil, extracted from Polianthes tuberosa blossoms, is prized for its rich floral fragrance and diverse therapeutic benefits. Widely used in aromatherapy, it promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and enhances mood, creating a sensual and exotic atmosphere. Tuberose oil is believed to have aphrodisiac effects, contributing to emotional well-being and intimacy. While primarily valued for its fragrance, it may also offer skincare benefits due to its potential antioxidant and moisturizing properties. Responsible use, including proper dilution and professional consultation, is recommended, especially for individuals with specific health concerns or during pregnancy.
Frangipani- $1500 per oz
Frangipani essential oil, derived from the aromatic flowers of the Plumeria genus, offers a rich and exotic fragrance characterized by its sweet, floral notes with warm tropical undertones. Renowned for its intoxicating scent, Frangipani oil is cherished for its ability to evoke feelings of romance, sensuality, and joy. Beyond its captivating aroma, this oil holds therapeutic properties that promote relaxation, uplift the mood, and instill a sense of emotional balance. It is often used in aromatherapy to alleviate stress and promote well-being. Additionally, Frangipani oil is valued in skincare for its moisturizing, soothing, and anti-inflammatory benefits, contributing to a healthy complexion. In perfumery, it serves as a luxurious ingredient, adding depth and complexity to fragrances. Overall, Frangipani essential oil is a prized aromatic treasure celebrated for its beauty and versatility.
Elecampane- $560 per oz
Elecampane essential oil, derived from the roots of the Inula helenium plant, exudes a warm, earthy aroma with subtle spicy, and sweet undertones. Revered for its medicinal properties, this oil is prized for its expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects, making it a valuable tool in supporting respiratory health. Often used in aromatherapy formulations, Elecampane oil aids in clearing the respiratory system, easing coughs and congestion, and soothing respiratory infections. Additionally, it offers digestive support by stimulating digestion and alleviating discomfort. With its grounding and calming qualities, some believe it can also help reduce stress and anxiety, making it a versatile addition to holistic wellness practices. However, caution should be exercised in its use, particularly in proper dilution and consideration of individual sensitivities.
"Luxury is not a necessity to me, but beautiful and good things are". Anais Nin
In the enchanting world of expensive essential oils, each precious drop carries the essence of botanical rarity and artisanal craftsmanship, weaving tales of loving labor and the delicate treasures of nature's aromatic symphony. From the alluring aroma of Damask roses to the nocturnal allure of Jasmine Absolute, these opulent essences beckon us into a sensory odyssey, where every scent is a masterpiece in itself—a tribute to the artistry of nature and the alchemy of extraction.
As we journey through this fragrant tapestry, unraveling the secrets of distillation and effleurage, we discover the profound significance of each drop—a testament to the dedication of those who harvest and craft these botanical elixirs. With every inhalation, we are transported to distant landscapes, where the essence of flora unfolds in a luxurious olfactory symphony, captivating our senses and stirring our souls.
So, let us embrace the allure of expensive essential oils, for they are more than mere fragrances—they are windows to the soul of nature, inviting us to savor the beauty and complexity of the botanical world. In the world of expensive essential oils, every drop is a masterpiece, a testament to the wonder of nature and the boundless creativity of the human spirit.