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Natural essential oils are extracts obtained from the different parts of plants (leafs, fruit, stems, roots) through distillation. They contain a great quantity of biologically active substances. They look like a type of fat oil but their chemical composition is not treated as such.
Most essential oils have a tangy taste. They are practically insoluble in water, but after being stirred for a while the water takes on their aroma. They dissolve well in organic solvents, alcohol, animal fat, vegetable oils and in natural products (honey, milk, cream). Essential oils themselves can dissolve various resins, waxes, paraffin, rubbers. This is why the oils should not be stored in plastic containers, but in dark glass bottles.
The essential oils are very evaporative. If placed over paper it takes thirty minutes to three hours for them to evaporate. Greasy spots are not left on the paper although if the oil had a color some coloring of the paper may occur. All essential oils are flammable.
The constitution of the essential oils changes considerably depending on the conditions in which the plants were grown, the region in which they were grown, etc. This is why it is very possible the aromas of essential oils of the same type to have different nuances. An example of this is the essential oil extracted from roses grown in Bulgaria. The aroma of the Bulgarian oil is much more pronounced and with higher quality than that of  rose oils extracted in other countries.
Fake oils
The quality and the origin of the oil are an important part of aromatherapy. Unfortunately the great demand for essential oils and the necessity of lower prices have lead to the frequent entry of diluted essential oils in the trade network. Thus the suspiciously cheap oils with unknown origin should be avoided. Some firms, following the fashion in aromatherapy, sell synthetic and semi-synthetic oils with the names of essential oils that in fact do not exist. REMEMBER, essential oils of: violet, apple, lilac, lily, melon, peach, lime, lotus, magnolia, apricot, coconut, mango, banana, kiwi, strawberries do NOT exist. This is why it is wiser to choose firms which guarantee correspondence with the standards or norms in the Pharmacopoeia. Reliable norms are ISO (International Organization for Standardization), BP (The British Pharmacopoeia), etc.
Expiration date
The expiration date of essential oils from wild growing material is unlimited. Furthermore, the “fine” oils, as it is with the “fine” wines, are refined after long storage – rose, neroli, basil, etc. The following oil groups are an exception:
- Citrus oils - orange, bergamot, lemon. Their expiration date is 2-3 years.
- Resinous oils – myrtle, sandal, jasmine, etc. Those oils thicken if stored incorrectly, and therefore their expiration date is reduced.
Most of the firms producing oils from cultured plants set a two year expiration date and for the citrus oils – one year.
Storage rules
The following rules should be followed when storing essential oils:
- The vials containing the oils should be well closed;
- The temperature regime: from -5 to + 30 degrees Celsius;
- The vials should be made from brown glass, 50% darkened.
- If the oil was stored in freezing temperatures, at least 30 minutes should be waited before using it;
- Essential oils are flammable and should not be kept near heat sources;
- Keep away from small children.
The information given here has informative nature only. If you are using essential oils with therapeutic purposes you should explore the theme in more detail through specialized literature or consult an aromatherapist.

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