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Carrier Oilsfor Aromatherapy
No essential oil should be used directly on the skin without being mixed (diluted) into a carrier oil with the exception of Lavender and Tea Tree. (Even here though I would dilute if possible to avoid the possibility of sensitization).
Carrier oils are also known as base oils, massage oils, vegetable oils, and fixed oils. They are called "fixed" because they are not as volatile as essential oils but are still prone to evaporation and oxidization. There molecules are larger than essential oils and therefore stay in the plant rather than being easily released like essential oils. Unlike essential oils, carrier oils are greasy and will leave an oily mark on absorbent paper.
The best carrier oils are cold or "expeller" pressed. This is done by placing the nuts or seeds in a large press which turns and squeezes out the oil which is then filtered. Other oils are solvent extracted using heat and hexane and many aromatherapists do not like to use these. Due to the heating the oil loses most of its nutritional content. Most vegetable oils found in the supermarket are heat extracted and not cold pressed. Be sure to buy from a reputable dealer in order to get the proper quality.
Cold pressed carrier oils will retain their vitamins, minerals and fatty acids which are beneficial to the skin and our overall health.
How long a carrier oil will last depends on its fatty acid content. The higher in saturated fat it is the longer it lasts. Saturated fats are more stable than unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated oils are usually heavier and somewhat sticky whereas unsaturated oils are lighter. For example, Coconut Oil has the highest saturated fat content and is actually solid at room temperature.
The following list will give you an idea of the shelf life based on the saturation level:
Cocoa Butter 50
Olive Oil 20
Peanut Oil 20
Wheat Germ 18
Rice Oil 17
Corn Oil 17
Walnut Oil 16
Soy Bean Oil 15
Sesame Seed Oil 13
Almond Oil 5-10
Apricot Kernel 5-10
This is just a partial listing of some carrier oils. You can see right away from the chart that Coconut oil will last much longer than Almond or Apricot kernel.
In order to keep the carrier oils as long as possible it is necessary to keep them in a cool, dark place. Many people keep them in the refrigerator to help prolong their shelf life. Vitamin E is known to help inhibit oxidation and add to the shelf life of carrier oils. 1-2 caps of Vitamin E added to 2 oz of carrier will help to extend the shelf life as well as adding 10% jojoba. These are both good extenders.
We mentioned earlier when speaking about skin care that carrier oils can also be mixed. This would be done for a number of reasons.
Of course, some carrier oils are fine to use 100% without dilution on the skin, such as grapeseed or jojoba in perfumes.
Carrier Oil Properties
Common Name: Evening Primrose Oil
Latin Name: Oenothers biennis
Shelf Life: short
This oil is high in GLA which makes it valuable for the healthy functioning of body tissues . It is a fine textured oil which is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose. It is a golden yellow color and is rich in vitamins and minerals.
It is an excellent moisturizer and can be used for conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, PMS, and menopausal symptoms.
This is an excellent oil for dry, aging or chapped skin.
Store away from light and heat. Expensive oil which you would probably prefer to dilute with another less expensive carrier oil.
(Read Aromatherapy Course for more information)
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