Isolates vs. Essences vs. Essential Oils: Everything You Need to Know -

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Essential Oils Blog

Isolates vs. Essences vs. Essential Oils: Everything You Need to Know

By Jessica Cobb, Certified Aromatherapist

Essential oils, isolates, essences…what they are and what they all mean can be confusing (even for us). But we’ve got your back! Today we’re taking a closer look at the differences and benefits of these natural essential oil products.

First, what are essential oils?

Benefits of using essences isolates and essential oilsEssential oils are highly concentrated oils obtained from plants that have the odor and other characteristic properties of the plant (like their chemical constituents). The purest essential oils come from carefully cultivated plants from around the world. Plus, essential oils are actually not oily! They evaporate. Because of this, individuals should not apply them directly to the skin.  

When you take a plant, like Peppermint for instance, and crush its leaf, that distinctive scent is going to come through strongly. That’s because inside that Peppermint leaf are special cells and glands that hold the plant’s essential oil. When you crushed the leaf, you released the oil. These oils don’t always come from the leaves either. Oils may come from the delicate flowers, thin roots, fresh rind, wood, or resin of a plant. There are several extraction processes including steam distillation, hydrodistillation, or expression (cold pressing, used for citrus oils). Other types of natural aromatic extract include absolutes and CO2 extracts.

Thankfully, we live in a time where essential oils can be processed, bottled, and purchased pretty easily. Essential oils are naturally extracted oils from different parts of a plant. But sometimes, it takes a lot of a plant to produce essential oils. For example, some say it takes about 60,000 roses to get just 1 ounce of Rose Essential Oil, which is why Rose Absolute is so expensive!

The majority of essential oils have one, two, or three major constituents that each make up about 20-90% of the oil. There are other minor constituents at about 1-19% each, and many more constituents that make up less than 1% each. These constituents determine what benefits the essential oil will have. 

Benefits of using essential oils

using essential oil benefitsEssential oils are widely known to help with boosting the immune system, warding off seasonal threats, easing discomfort caused by overexertion or the normal wear and tear that comes from aging, helping with skin issues, easing worry, and other concerns. Essential oils can have even more powerful therapeutic benefits when blended correctly.

Get the most of your essential oils by diffusing, either with a diffuser in your room, or a personal aromatherapy inhaler. Topical application is also the best way to get benefits for skin issues and wounds. To diffuse, choose an essential oil with a smell you love, fill your diffuser up with water, add the recommended amount of oil, and turn it on. It’s that easy!

If you want to learn more about diffusers and how to use them, check out these blogs: Diffusers: Style vs. Functionality and How To Clean A Diffuser. Make sure to follow the directions given on your specific diffuser.

So what’s an essence?

essence oils lemonEssence oils are a little different from essential oils. Essences are extracted as part of the process to create fruit juice. They come from either the fruit itself or the peel of the fruit. During the last phase of juice production, the volatile oils float to the top of the tanks where they are collected and distilled to separate them from the water of the juice source, creating essence oils.

The result of this process is that essence oils have a ‘juicier’ scent than their essential counterparts, a little stronger and a little more intense (in a good way!). Because of the strength of their scent, blends using essences may need some adjustments to accommodate your personal scent preferences.

Benefits of using an essence

lemon fruit essence oil plant therapyEssence oils provide very similar benefits to their essential oil counterparts, with the added benefit of a slightly more intense smell. You can use essences interchangeably with their essential oil counterparts in your blends. Plus they will provide the benefit of that big boost to the scent!

You can learn even more about essences in our in-depth Oil of the Month blog post, featuring Mandarin Green, Orange and Lemon essence oils.

Ok, then what’s an isolate and how is it different?

Evoke Thrive and Celebrate sets from Plant Therapy natural scentsNow for isolates. Basically, isolates are isolated parts of natural essential oils. They are specifically taken out because of their scent notes and aromatic qualities, instead of therapeutic qualities.

Isolates are often taken from essential oils using fractional distillation. This method involves the separation of a liquid into fractions using differing boiling points. As the oil heats up, the vapor rises into a long column above the still. The vapor is repeatedly condensed and re-evaporated as it moves toward the top, which distills the vapor many times. Because of this, the column can be tapped at various levels to draw off different fractions. This “isolates” different parts of the oil with different scent notes.

This process of isolation is also useful for some carrier oils. For example, Fractionated Coconut Oil is technically an isolate, which is why it stays liquid at room temperature.

Benefits of isolates

Essential oil bottle with dropper and green leaf

Using isolates, along with essential oils and natural compounds, you can get a much wider variety of natural amazing scents to use to create perfumes and home scents. The important thing to note is that these are still natural products! Isolates give us an opportunity to make even more unique blends that are completely natural and unlike anything we’ve tried before.

Plant Therapy made the decision to carry products that use isolates when we created our exclusive Evoke line of home fragrances designed specifically to pair emotions and scent.

If you want to learn more about isolates, you can read even more about them in this blog post.

54 thoughts on “Isolates vs. Essences vs. Essential Oils: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Great information! The essence oils are amazing smelling. I’m hoping to see a Pineapple Essence in the near future.

  2. Such awesome information! I have often wondered what the difference was between oils and essences and if they can be used interchangeably. Thank you so much!

    1. Angela, they absolutely do! Essences have very similar chemical profiles and pose the same concerns and have the same dilution rate recommendations 🙂

  3. Great post as it cleared up a lot of confusion for me, which started when the fruit essences were released, followed by the isolates line of products! Thank you!!!

  4. Thanks for this information. It answers so many questions. Hopefully one day I can expand my collection to include some essences and maybe isolates too.

    1. Bailey, yes they do because their chemical properties are very similar. If there are phototoxicity concerns, we make sure to mention it on each product’s page 🙂

    1. That would be a great one to have! I know we have no immediate plans to carry mango, but we always take customer input into consideration 🙂

  5. I didn’t realize there were so many different options with essential oils. I’ve learned so many new things reading your blogs. Thanks !

  6. Thank you for blogging about this! I have been a little confused about this since the fruit Essence set has come out! Now I really want to try them!

  7. Great explanation. Said in a way that is easy to understand. Thank you for your passion to educate your customers. It is much appreciated. ♥️PT

  8. Great information!
    This cleared up my confusion and is going to help me when deciding which products to purchase. I’m completely out of lemon, and now I have to buy BOTH the lemon essential oil AND the lemon essence! I just love the lemon scent, and now that I can get that intensified, look out world.

  9. This blog post is amazing. Thank you for clarifying the differences, and pointing out the similarities! This post was very easy to understand and I’ve already sent it to several friends to help them understand as well. Thanks!

  10. Thank for explaining this in a way that’s understandable! When the fruit essences were released I was utterly confused as to what an essence was compared to other oils. This definitely clarified things!

  11. Thanks a lot for this article. I’ve always wondered about isolates and frankly wasn’t a fan thinking they were cheaply made. Thanks for the education this was really informative.

  12. Thank you for such a great explanation of the differences between oils, essences and isolates! Very clear and educational!!

  13. This is informative. I wondered why the ingredients of evoke and home fragrance line are shown different. And now my question is answered. Thank you.

  14. This was a very interesting blog and I learned something new about isolates and essences. I am interested in trying the essences for their stronger smell .

  15. Thank you for this summary! I have to admit I’m still a bit confused about isolates – on to the next blog post!

  16. Thank you for this, hooehopef others read and will know the difference especially with the new line PT has come out with.

  17. A very educational blog. Thank you for explaining the differences. My knowledge of EOs and its kind is growing by the day! Well done, PT!

  18. I have been conditioned to turn the other way when seeing natural fragrance listed on a product. I’m glad that you guys clarified the specifics. I can’t wait to try the Evoke line. They sound wonderful, and I’m sure a lot of work was put into these.

  19. Thank you for educating me on my journey to making body butters and soaps. I never knew what an isolate was or what it can do. This education is wonderful!

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