Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The chemistry of essential oils: Overview

I don't think it would be helpful to talk about essential oils without talking about the chemistry, so I'm going to take a few days to review what we find in these oils. If you're interested in learning more chemistry, this'll be a two-fer as we delve into the various molecules we might find in the oils and why they work they way they do.

We find a ton of interesting molecules in essential oils, with the most common being terpenes and terpenoids; sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenoids; phenylpropane derivatives; phenols; ketones; esters; aldehydes; alcohols; and oxides (to name a few!). Anyone who thinks that essential oils are "chemical free" are completely wrong, eh?

I'll be covering these in order...for the most part...starting with terpenes in a few minutes. I did write a post on this in the past, so I've updated it and will be posting it in about 5 minutes!

If you have any questions related to the chemistry of essential oils, I ask that you put them in this thread so I can find them easily!

All right - we're off! See you in a few moments!

2 comments:

Jodi said...

Hi Susan,
Do you like and/or use Balsam Peru Essential Oil? (INCI: Myroxolon Pereirae) One of the constituents is cinnamic acid.
I bought some, have used it and love the scent! I am concerned now because I just came across some information that indicates it is a top allergen. Although, It hasn’t bothered me yet.
http://www.makingcosmetics.com/articles/09-allergies-to-cosmetic-ingredients.pdf
http://www.iacdworld.org/skin/contact.htm
I'm not sure about those sources and would love to hear what you think. Thanks so much for your continued passion!
Jodi

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jodi. No, I don't use it. I don't tend to like most essential oils that are earthy in nature - they really bother my nose! Something can be a potential allergen and not bother you! For instance, I can eat wheat with reckless abandon, but it might hurt you if you're cursed with celiac disease. Potential doesn't mean actual! So if you like it, use it!