What is an essential oil?
An essential oil is the volatile odorous fraction extracted from plants. It can be extracted from different parts of a plant depending on the latter: leaves, flowers, bark, wood, peel, seeds, berries, fruits, bulb…. In short, it is the concrete scent of the plant, the concentrate of its essence.
Why do plants contain essential oils?
As plants can not move and shelter, they had to invent a highly effective protection system that is at the same time antibacterial, antiviral, anti solar…. In summary, plants survive due to their concentration in essential oil.
Essential oils: a unique Mother Nature’s treasure
With our 2.5 hectares officinal garden of about 60 thousand medicinal plants we have realized our passion for aromatherapy and the production of essential oils. The selection of the 5 main cultivated medicinal plants whas been the careful and selected choice elaborated by a specialized agronomist. Only after a careful evaluation of the sun exposure, the soil’s characteristics and the concrete feasibility of being able to ensure the best climate we started to cultivate the lavandin,, real lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme. Sometimes we also harvest helichrysum and laurel but only from spontaneous plants. The helichrysum is born in the mountain areas and is distilled after being obviously harvested in a limited quantity as this is a wild plant. The careful evaluation of the choice of plants was carried out so that the right synergy between the different environmental factors could be exploited to give them the best habitat and to extract the best organic essential oil.
“I have always been fascinated by medicinal plants and I had the opportunity to deepen this theme with my second son’s birth. He was suffering from recurrent otitis, and the osteopath recommended a massage with essential oils. I followed her advice and his otitis began to improve. Not only its concrete physical effect but also the essential oils’ perfume and its psychic effect had amazing results. So I started to follow some training courses for aromatherapy. My passion comes from a personal use that allowed me to experience the many real benefits of using essential oils on a daily basis. At that point, the project of having a farm was born: essential oils accompany every moment of my life. A unique product of a versatile nature that can be ingested, used on the skin or diffused in the environment. It creates an active relationship between smell and mind, an extraordinary power”.
What differentiates Terre d’Eccezione’s essential oils
Terre d’Eccezione is an organic farm certified by the CCPB company which certifies eco-sustainable and organic products all over the world. Its assessment systems are based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. The only food that our medicinal plants are fed with is the grass coming from the cutting, rainwater and sun. Between the rows hundreds of different species of flowers are born that we let “live” in a spontaneous way by manually extirpating only the herbs that could damage the officinal plants.
The plants grow in a completely natural way letting the spontaneous synergy that is created in nature with insects, reptiles and small animals. The medicinal plants are harvested by hand with the scythe. At the end of each flowering, it takes 3-5 days for our team to harvest.. As the harvest takes place, the flowers or twigs are immediately taken to the distillery. For the sage, the thyme, the real lavender and the lavandin the end of flowering occurs only when the flowers have closed and the bees do not have to forage anymore. This indicates that the plant has reached its “balsamic time” which is when the concentration in essential oil is at its maximum.
Rosemary has a mixed harvesting time that does not depend on flowering: the sprigs are ready from April to September with a completely independent balsamic time. It can be determined by passing the hand on the twigs. If they leave a sticky layer, that means that the time of harvest has come.
For rosemary, thyme and sage, harvesting time coincides with their pruning. For the real lavender and the lavandin instead,a stem is left during the harvest that will then be trimmed in September. The lavandin in particular has a tendency to turn into wood. Letting it grow spontaneously would shorten its life. So, by pruning it, we keep the woody part down and help it live longer.
The “natural” method used to extract essential oils: steam distillation
After being hand harvested, the medicinal plants are brought to the distillery without waiting times. We use an ancient distillation method: steam distillation. The plants are placed in large chambers of about 400 kg. During the steam distillation process, the steam rises and moves through this chamber holding the plant material. The temperature of the system must remain within a strict range; too low and the essential oils will not be distilled, too high and there is risk of damaging the essential oils or collecting unwanted, non-aromatic compounds. Temperatures required for optimal steam distillation typically fall between 60° C and 100° C. The combination of heated steam and gentle pressure ruptures small glands that hold the essential oil and allows it to be released. The essential oil is easily carried by the steam into the condensing tube. The vapor mixture then flows through the condenser and cools. The condensed liquid accumulates in the collecting still. After removal from the still, a mixture of essential oil and water will be present. It yields a layer of oil and a layer of water. Because essential oils are not water soluble, the mixture will naturally separate into two layers; a layer of pure essential oil on top and a layer of water underneath*. The watery layer is called hydrosol and is often sold as floral water.
Remember that the floral water can have several uses while the essential oil must be used with care because each one of them has specific properties. The recommended use can be dietary, therapeutic and/or cosmetic. It is always important to inquire and train before using it. An aromatherapy specialist, phytotherapy and natural medicine practitioner can give you directions on the most appropriate ways to use it and get the best of its valuable benefits.
*The essential oil rises to the top (because it is lighter) and is separated from the hydrosol (floral water) and collected.
OUR QUALITY GUARANTEE
Our processing procedures are transparent and sustainable. From the loving cultivation to the careful harvesting up to the delicate processing. For the respect of Nature and for the people’s well-being , a 360 º action
Our Essential Oils are:
- Organic certificated
- Obtained from organic and non-genetically modified plants
- Obtained from plants grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides.
- 100% pure and natural (neither diluted, nor coloured, nor deterpenated, peroxidized or reconstituted)
- Exclusively produced by us
- Produced respecting the environment
- Obtained from flowers harvested by hand
- Botanically and biochemically defined
- Chromatographically analysed
- Vegan-friendly, not tested on animals