There is a lot of information available on the many different uses and applications of essential oils. However, some of you might be pondering the most basic question, “What are essential oils?” Learn more about the history of essential oils, how they are made, what they are made of, and some of their primary forms of application.

Essential oils began in ancient Egypt and were initially used for the process of mummification. Frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cedarwood, juniper berry, and spikenard were all used to preserve the dead. These were considered extremely precious resources at the time and often traded as currency with comparative value to precious gems and metals. The Egyptians continued to refine these materials and eventually became masters of the perfume trade, the most famous advocate being Cleopatra, seducing both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony.

The word essential refers to the “essence” of a plant’s fragrance. All essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic liquids which contain easily evaporated chemical compounds from the plant they come from. In laymen’s terms, essential oils are the purest form of a plant’s smell, minus the water which makes up most of a plant’s biology. The traditional style of essential oil extraction from a plant is through steam distillation. This is a relatively simple process of combining mashed plant resources with water, then boiling off the water to leave only the condensed remaining liquid. The oil is then collected and bottled for use. Since these concentrated extracts contain little to no water, they tend to evaporate incredibly quickly without leaving a stain or residue. These properties make them perfect for topical uses, internal uses, and distillation.

Topical use involves applying the essential oil to your skin and allowing the oil to absorb into your body. This technique is used to treat a specific area like a burn or a scrape and depending on the type of oil used can provide a cooling, calming, warming, or stimulating sensation. Internal uses are ingestion of essential oils, typically with cooking or flavoring a drink. The most common oils for this application are lemon, orange, basil, and peppermint. Be careful to research which essential oils are safe for consumption as some of them are not safe to eat or drink. Typically, most essential oils are distilled in a diffuser, which combines drops of whatever essential oil or oils you want with water to generate steam. This steam then disperses into an area and can be breathed in. This process is called aromatherapy and is primarily useful to induce relaxation. Everyone reacts differently to unique scents and oils, so experimenting with different combinations and applications will give you insight into which ones make you the most relaxed.

Hopefully, this has been a clear overview of what essential oils are and how they are used to both stimulate and soothe your senses. Keep in mind that Zija’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. However, using essential oils in your everyday life is a great way to vitalize your body and mind or unwind at the end of a chaotic day.