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Technology for extracting Indian essential oil

Apart from being the second most populous country in the world, producing and exporting pharmaceuticals, India is also famous as the runner-up in the essential oil market. Essential oils have many different stories and histories, but they have been used for a long time in ancient civilizations. The main function is to treat, beautify and serve rituals for thousands of years. iCare Pharma will synthesize numerous studies and discoveries about the history and technology of essential oil extraction in India

I. History of formation

Essential oil is a liquid that is made from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots or other plant components. Essential oils are like the sap of a tree. Because reliability brings vitality, energy and 100 times stronger than dried herbs. Most essential oils are transparent, with the exception of some essential oils such as patchouli, orange, citronella, lemongrass and yellow or amber.

With a history of 5000 BC, essential oil is known as a treasure of nature. Traditional Indian medicine, called Ayurvrda, has been practiced for more than 3,000 years, with aromatherapy massage being one of the main stages. In particular, during the Bubonic plague outbreak, Ayur Veda was successfully used in the replacement of ineffective antibiotics.

In the mid-19th century, essential oils were focused on research and became a holistic and universal treatment in many countries around the world. It is also India’s leading strength field combining therapies from traditional Ayurveda medicine


India has a history of thousands of years in making essential oils
India has a history of thousands of years in making essential oils

II. Methods of extracting natural essential oils in the world

Unlike aromas synthesized from laboratory chemicals, pure natural oils are extracted from different parts of plants by Indian experts using a variety of methods.

2.1 Distillation

2.1.1 Rule

The steam seeps through the cell membrane of the essential oil storage unit, inflates and breaks it up, and pulls the essential oil out of the material. Because essential oil is a compound insoluble in water, it is very volatile

2.1.2 Advantages

Simple process, compact equipment, easy to fabricate. At the same time, the distillation of essential oils has a fast separation time and can be suitable for many essential oils

2.1.3 Limit

Only essential oils can be extracted from sources of oil that are relatively high in content;
For products that are susceptible to heat (pyrolysis, polymerisation, etc.) because essential oils contain compounds that are susceptible to thermal effects;
It is not possible to separate wax or resin according to the essential oil (when these ingredients retain incense);
The product contains some oxygen-containing components, easily lost due to redistribution in water;
It consumes a lot of fuel and cooling water; There should be some remedies.

In order to achieve high distillation efficiency, compact equipment and less altered essential oils, some of the following measures are combined:

Direct distillation of raw materials in containers so that they do not touch the bottom, touch the walls, do not touch the water (except wood or roots)
Reflux distilled water back to the distillation device.

Distillation of essential oils is a fairly common method
Distillation of essential oils is a fairly common method

2.2 Extraction

2.2.1 Extract by volatile solvent

This method is carried out on the principle that the solvent penetrates the cell membrane, dissolving the essential oil. Osmosis occurs until equilibrium is reached. Thus, the extraction process is the process of diffusing the constituents of essential oils from raw materials into solvents. Commonly used solvents include kerosene ether, hexam, ethylic ecther, chloroform, dichlorometane, ethanol …

The advantage of this method is the simple and mechanized equipment process. At the same time, extraction by volatile solvent for high performance, refined essential oil products and more pure. In some cases, extract some flowers with a solvent petroleum kerosene – a solvent-derived after-collection product for myrrh, with the characteristics of fresh flower flavor, used as a good fragrance.

However, solvent extraction is quite toxic, so now, India has applied the method of using supercritical CO2 to extract high-value oils. Extraction with supercritical CO2 gives essential oils a smell similar to the raw material, which is much greater than that of other extraction methods. However, the price is very expensive, 5-10 times more than conventional extraction methods, only used for precious oils

Extraction with supercritical CO2 produces high quality finished products
Extraction with supercritical CO2 produces high quality finished products


2.2.2 Extract using a non-volatile solvent

The use of volatile solvents has many limitations, such as the use of many solvents and solvents that are easily leaked, so in some cases people use vegetable oil or grease (deodorized) for extraction. For example, using almond oil and oil to extract essential oils from flower sources such as orange blossom, lemon, tangerine, grapefruit … Instead of using oil, fat; Using wax with low melting point will give the product the scent.

2.3 Cold pressing

2.3.1 Rule

The pressing method is usually for sources of essential oils and is easy to obtain. For example, the outer layer of citrus fruits: orange peel, lemon, tangerine, grapefruit, octopus.

2.3.2 Resources

The skin of the raw materials must be fresh because the cells next to the essential oil bag are still tight. Therefore, when pressed, the essential oil bag will burst and the oil will easily leak out

2.3.3 Method

When pressed, both pressed and sprayed water to cool down to protect essential oils and to collect essential oils in time, because with this irrigation water will make the oil cells bulge, so it cannot be absorbed into the oil. For easy separation of essential oils, 2% NaHCO3 solution can be added, to limit the process of creating fruit plastic solution.

The residual residue usually contains about 20-30% of the essential oil. To take the essential oil thoroughly, continue to attract steam distillation to obtain this residual essential oil (type 2 essential oil). The method of pressing for products is of a higher quality than the method of steam entrainment because it limits the effect of heat.

Cold pressing for materials that are easy to extract essential oils
Cold pressing for materials that are easy to extract essential oils


III. Interesting story about the most famous oil processing in India

Located on the banks of the Ganges River, the town of Kannauj, has been trying to preserve the secret to producing essential oils, traditional Indian perfumes, for centuries. Known as the “Grasse of the East”, Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh was once a thriving town on the trade path between India and the Middle East. This is a center for traditional perfume production as well as sandalwood oil extraction. Rose essential oil is the most expensive and most popular, priced around Rs 1,200 ($ 21) for 10ml with a long lasting sweet scent. Just one vial can be used for the whole month.


Rose essential oil is still extracted manually in an Indian craft village
Rose essential oil is still extracted manually in an Indian craft village

According to the people of Kannauj, only fragrances refined by natural methods will keep the scent long and absolutely no harm to health. This is what makes this flower essential oil so different from all of today’s synthetic synthetic fragrances. In addition to the special passionate aroma, Indian rose oil is also famous for the meticulous investment from time to effort in each distillation stage. It takes up to 4 tons of fresh roses to extract 1kg of pure rose essential oil.