Monthly Columns

Living the Oily Life

Oils: The Basics



Plants have been around since the beginning of time and their benefits have been harvested, but not to the extent they are known now. The essential oil industry over the past several years has boomed as people started to look more toward non-traditional and less Westernized medicine. If it has worked for millennia, why not now?

Oils can be distilled in multiple ways. Typically there are 2: Steam and expression.

Steam is the most common way. Heat is used with a combo of gentle pressure and this combo causes the essential oils to be released. The oil lays on top of a layer of water and is separated and collected, bottled and labeled.

Expression is often referred to as “cold pressing” as no heat is used. This technique is usually used in oils derived from rinds such as grapefruit, lemon and lime.

Oil distillation is a mix of experience and science. If the steam is too hot it will ruin the batch of oil or if the pressure isn’t enough all the oils won’t be extracted thus wasting some of this amazing gift.

When it comes to application, oils are used in 3 ways typically: Aromatically (scent only), internally (you take within your body) and topically (on your skin). Some oils are only able to be used 1 way, but others are able to be used 2 or possibly 3 ways. Responsible oil producers label their products with how the oil is able to be used. If this is not included, refrain from using it for any other use but aromatically as severe skin irritation or other medical complications can result if used improperly.

The oil I gravitate toward most is lavender. There are multiple varieties of lavender and yes they all smell completely different. In my garden at home I have both French and English lavender plants and they have totally different levels of scent strength and different underlying notes. The lavender oil I use is from Bulgaria. It has a light floral scent and isn’t overpowering. Lavender is noted for its calming properties, helping with relaxing, feelings of tension and with sleep. It can be used topically, internally and aromatically. It has been used since ancient times in Rome and Egypt for anything from cooking to use as a perfume to bathing. I have used it to help bug bites, in a bath to relax after a long day or mixed with peppermint and lemon for allergy relief. Overall lavender is recommended as one of the initial oils for someone to get as they start a foray into oils as it is very versatile in use and not a huge hit to a person’s pocketbook.

After this initial introduction I will introduce individual oils, their history and their uses in upcoming columns. One of my favorite sayings is, “I have an oil for that” and I will be sharing those with you.



About the Author:

Angela Ammon identifies closely with kitchen and hedge witchery, but adores oils, crystals, candle magic and reading anything she can on Wicca and Pagan paths. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up food or treats for those she loves (food is love) or playing in the dirt in her garden with plants with Wiccan roots. Angela is drawn toward Celtic practices and has many Celtic based Wiccan tattoos. It took almost 30 years to figure out why none of the religions she had studied growing up in a very religiously diverse family didn’t click, but when it did everything made sense. Turning an old cedar chest into her alter on top and her storage for candles, herbs, tarot and oracle cards inside her journey started. Reconnecting with many people growing up she realized there were more people in her life growing up that had beliefs based in Wicca than she realized and her circle started to grow. Angela is the social media coordinator for Pagan Pages and is beyond excited to get to know more about other paths and provide her insight from her own path.