Category Archives: Essential Oil Uses

Distillation Manipulations

Ylang ylang blossoms

In my blog post about naturals (Part 1), I talked briefly about distillation. Distillation is the process whereby we get nearly all of our essential oils, cold-process being the other method that is used for citrus oils. In many cases, distillation begins at the beginning and continues to the end with temperatures and timing strictly controlled for highest quality and to yield a blend of desirable constituents. Various combinations of distillation techniques may be used to adjust oils, remove undesirable components, and otherwise produce a desirable and commercial product.

Fractional Distillation

In the case of the ylang ylang flower, the distillation process is interrupted at very particular times to yield different products. The distillation of ylang ylang is an example of fractional distillation. By timing the distillation carefully, four different fractions can be separately created. Generally referred to as ylang ylang extra, ylang ylang I, II and III they are quite different in fragrance with the extra being quite sweet and ethereal for perfumery while the 3rd is more suited to making soaps, the other fractions are less commonly used. Over the course of about 24 hours, distillers interrupt the process and pull off each fraction separate from the others. During the first 1 to 2 hours the essential oil is collected and separated as the ‘Extra’. Using experience, fragrance, and specific gravity measurements distillers remove the other fractions in their time. Or, distillers may simply continue the distillation uninterrupted to create the ‘complete’ which is sometimes referred to as ylang ylang VOP or Very Old Process.

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Using Essential Oils for Animals

DSCN2592 piper in orchids

Piper Smelling the Flowers Copyright Elise Pearlstine

We have been making and selling natural dog products for over five years now – basically since our rescue dog Piper came home with us. She came from Puerto Rico by way of the Broward County Humane Society.  She was about six months old and completely traumatized by her experiences during her young life.  Fortunately, once she adapted to our home and to us, she was comfortable being handled as long as she wasn’t startled. I learned early on to hold my hands open and down and never approach her with my hands over her head. She was in surprisingly good condition except for a couple of raw, itchy spots on the backs of her legs.

To treat her I spent some time looking at soothing, skin-friendly, anti-inflammatory essential oils that would be gentle on her skin and came up with a preliminary list.  Fragrance for the blend was also important but Piper was too worried about unusual activities so I didn’t want to evaluate fragrances with her.  Enter Ruby – our little dog who is not afraid of anything.  Ruby and I tested a variety of essential oils in this fashion:  I would dip a strip in the dilute oil and hold it out to Ruby.  If she was interested and sniffed more it would go on my list under yes.  If she turned her head away we had a ‘no.’  Soon I had a formula for a gentle, healing skin balm. Continue reading