At Sunstone we make infused herbal oils. What this means is that we take plant material, such as violet leaves or fresh birch bark, and steep it in extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil for a minimum of six weeks. We then strain the plant material and the resulting oil is an infused herbal oil which contains many of the therapeutic benefits of the plant. Infused herbal oils are medicinal oils that are massaged into the skin.
Depending on the plant material used, there may or may not be a strong fragrance to an infused herbal oil. Olive oil is a strong scent and can overpower many of the delicate floral qualities of a plant such as violet. Our Black Birch Oil, for example, has that familiar wintergreen scent, BUT if you are used to using an essential oil which is powerfully fragrant, then our infused oil will not seem to be strongly scented.
We do not make essential or perfume oils. We get many inquires, however, for violet oil and black birch oil from people looking for either essential or fragrance oils. So for clarification here is a brief primer on the differences between the oils.
Fragrance or Perfume Oils
A fragrance or perfume oil contains synthetic chemicals. This is a product manufactured for the scent of the herb only. It is not a therapeutic essential or infused herbal oil. It’s only purpose is to make you or your product smell good. It more than likely does not contain any of the plant material of the herb you are looking for. Fragrance oils usually are fairly inexpensive. Unfortunately, some products such as candles may be labeled with the term “aromatherapy” when they are made with fragrance oils. For true aromatherapy, essential oils are used.
Essential oils are not really oils, but are the plant “essence” that is produced when large quantities of plant material are distilled, usually by steam. Essential oils are used in Aromatherapy and vary in quality. If you are looking for the therapeutic benefits of using essential oils in Aromatherapy, DO NOT just use the cheapest oil you can find. Use therapeutic grade essential oils.
I use only a few essential oils, (e.g., lavendar, tea tree and white camphor), and although I believe in the healing power of Aromatherapy, use of essential oils is not something I promote or encourage.
Why? Because extremely large quantities of plant material are used to create very small amounts of essential oils. When purchasing an essential oil, you are more than likely supporting large scale mono-cropping that uses pesticides. Even organic essential oils require large scale mono-cropping. There are some small farms that produce their own essential oil but those are few and far between because it is difficult for a small farmer to grow that much plant material. Using extremely large quantities of plant material for such a tiny amount of product is not in line with “walking lightly on the earth” or living within a small footprint.
If a retail site lists an essential oil as their own product be sure to ask if they manufacture it themselves or are they reselling. Those interested in the small scale and home-based manufacture of essential oils should visit Jeanne Rose’s website. She is an aromatherapist who has long taught about essential oils, including home distilling.