How to smell like a cookie: Extracts vs. Essential Oils

 Geeks are Cute. 

Geeks are Cute. 

As you probably know already, we're really into reading and researching labels.  Call us super-geeks, but hey, we'd rather know what we're putting on our bodies!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes an ingredient list will have "{insert flower here} extract" and sometimes it will say "{insert flower here} essential oil"?  What exactly is the difference?  So glad you asked!

Essential oils are the concentrated aromatic compounds of a plant, that is, the yummy, delicious smelling parts. Separating this from the rest of the plant is usually done through steam distillation.  If you're a geekier geek than we are, read about steam distillation here

 Now. Extracts.  Put in the simplest of terms, extracts are kind of like a tea.  Get the plant and boil in water or oil for a long time. You can also do this in alcohol (not the drinking kind.  Or maybe the drinking kind?  We've never tried - if you do, let us know how that went!) and this is called a tincture. 

What's the main difference between the two?

Well, both can be used for aromatherapy, but only essential oils have true medicinal properties.  Essential oils are also a lot stronger and more concentrated, and for that reason, very few essential oils should be put directly on the skin with no carrier oil.  Lavender oil and Tea Tree oil are examples of two essential oils that you can put directly on the skin. 

Essential oils are also a lot more expensive because it's darn difficult to separate the oils from the plants!  One thing extracts and oils have in common?  They both can be used as a non synthetic, all natural perfume.  So instead of buying fake vanilla perfume, just raid your baking cabinet and use some high quality vanilla extract and smell like a cookie all day long…