Frequently Asked Questions

ESSENTIAL OIL  & AROMATHERAPYY RELATED QUESTIONS

Gritman's Grading System (What is the GCC)?
What are essential oils?
How do essential oils work?
What are therapeutic grade essential oils?
How many drops are in a bottle of essential oils?
What methods are used to get essential oils out of the plant?
What should I know about purchasing and storing essential oils?
What does adulterated essential oils mean?
How can you ensure that your oils are not adulterated?
What is the difference between organic versus non-organic?
What is the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils?
How do you tell if an oil is natural or synthetic?
How to properly store and care for your essential oils?
What is Aromatherapy?
What is a certified aromatherapist?
What are fixed or carrier oils?
How do you use essential oils in aromatherapy?
How do essential oils work?
What is therapeutic blending?
How do you blend?
What are some common ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy?
What is Intuitive Essential Oil Therapy?
How does intuitive differ from classical aromatherapy?

What are essential oils?
Historically alchemists in medieval time first used the term "essential oil" from the word quintessential or the fifth element corresponding to the spirit or soul. Its meaning was never meant to suggest essential to life nor is it even a real oil. Essential oils only act like oil in water making them insoluble. The modern day definition generally means the smallest most volatile parts of the aromatic plant which is thought to be the by-product of plant's metabolism that aids in its own immune system. The Plant's Body Odor!

How do essential oils work?
Essential oils enter the body in several different ways. They are absorbed through the skin passing into the circulatory system. They can also be inhaled, passing into the blood stream through the lungs or by causing signals to be transmitted through the nervous system directly into the limbic system of the brain. Smelling or diffusing the oils into the air is a basic way to transmit the oils. Massage is also a very popular method of working the oils into the body, but here a fixed oil is needed.

What are therapeutic grade essential oils?
The essential oil market is not regulated by a government agency. The quality varies tremendously from company to company. The industry has begun to self-regulate with pressure from consumers. Gritman was one of the first to classify their oils called the Gritman Classification Code or GCC.

How many drops are in a bottle of essential oils?
Our normal bottle size we sell is either 5 ml or 1/6 oz. and 10 ml 1/3 oz. Depending on viscosity 1/6 oz. bottle will have anywhere between 100 to 125 drops. A 10 ml bottle will have anywhere from 225 to 250 drops.

What methods are used to get essential oils out of the plant?
Distillation - The most common method for extracting essential oils is by steam distillation. You get only the volatile and water insoluble parts of a plant. Most essential oils are extracted by using this method.
Expression - A method for extracting essential oils by pressure. Citrus oils are extracted by using this method.
Solvent extraction - A method for extracting essential oils used when the oils would be damaged or destroyed using expression or distillation. Jasmine is an example. A solvent (such as hexane or heptane) is used to pull or dissolve the plant. The solvent is extracted for the creation of absolutes, concretes, and resinoids.

What should I know about purchasing and storing essential oils?
If you go into a store and all the oils are priced at $4.95, most likely they are fragrances and/or adulterated synthetically and not essential oils. Also, to help ensure that you are getting high quality oil; it is important that the bottle clearly states the botanical name (genus species). Common names can be misleading. Several different plants can have the same common name.
The country of origin is also important. The same variety of plant grown in a different country can smell differently. Take for example, Lemongrass from South American and Lemongrass from India. The Indian Lemongrass has a milder smell and is not has irritating to the skin as the Lemongrass from South America. The Gritman label gives you all this, plus, the Gritman Classification Code (GGC), which explains how it was processed and what grade or quality it is, along with the common name, scientific name, and country of origin. Most of all, it is important that you trust the company from which you purchase oils. Do they answer your questions? Do you feel comfortable with them? Can you trust them to tell you the truth?
Once you get home with your essential oils, always store essential oils out of reach and sight of children and pets. Essential oils are highly concentrated and could make them sick if they ingested an entire bottle. Essential oils are best stored in dark, airtight glass bottles, and away from light and heat. Some oils have indefinite shelf life, like Patchouli, juxtaposed to Orange which usually has a shelf life of up to 2 years.

What does adulterated essential oils mean?
Adulterating is adjusting or altering the oil in some way. It is a legitimate practice in perfumery and food processing to stretch or standardize the smell or taste of an oil. There are five different ways this is done. Stretching by adding alcohol, adding terpenes from another oil, adding a cheaper oil to an expensive oil (such as adding Lemongrass to Citronella), adding a colorless and odorless synthetic product, or by substituting an oil for another cheaper oil (such as Lavandin being sold as Lavender). These are all ways that essential oils can be adulterated.

How can you ensure that your oils are not adulterated?
Gas-Liquid chromatography, GC, and Mass spectrometry have become popular ways to test oils for purity. They will basically tell you if there are any synthetic components in the oils. Sadly, these tests are difficult to read if you are not trained properly or the machines are not calibrated correctly. Oils also can vary from growing season to growing season, so a lot of times profiles for an oil can vary from season to season. Here at gritman, we actually had a chemist tell us he could make the report say whatever he wanted to say in order to get the results he needed. So it is important to trust who tests your oils because the process is costly and drives the price of the essential oils up.

Other ways to tell an adulterated oil is through your nose. As you build experience with different oils, you will be able to tell if Lemongrass or a synthetic component was added to Citronella. Also essential oils, as with the example of citrus oils, are volatile and evaporate quickly. If you notice the oil is leaving a residue behind it is likely been adulterated with a carrier or fixed oil.

What is the difference between organic versus non-organic?
It has become very popular in aromatherapy to use only organic oils. In our experience, organic may not necessarily mean better. When oils are steam distilled, offensive or harmful pesticides are left behind. The pesticide reside is too big to pass through the distillation process. The only way pesticides could get through is if plants were newly sprayed at harvest time. The likelihood of this is slim. Also organic plants tend to be happy plants and do not have the yield(quantity) or quality of more conventionally grown essential oil plants. If a plant is steam distilled, it may not be the best idea to go organic. However, we do recommend using organic citrus essential oils. They are not distilled, but expressed, and can have pesticide residue in the oils. Ironically, citrus oils are cheap and most people will not buy the organics.

What is the difference between essential oils and fragrance oils?

Fragrances are not essential oils and some people do not like using synthetic products with fragrances, as they can create allergic reactions. Essential oils are natural products, usually steam distilled from plant material, and most people seem to be able to handle essential oils more easily.

How do you tell if an oil is natural or synthetic?

If it comes in a clear bottle, is inexpensive, with a powerful scent, and has a fruit name (apple, banana, cherry, coconut, grape, watermelon) or a floral name (lily of the valley, hyacinth, sweet pea, wisteria, honeysuckle) then it is safe to say they are fragrances. Those are dead give always that it is not an essential oil, but a fragrance (synthetic) cooked in a lab. True essential oils are always in a dark bottle with varying degrees of prices. A bottle (10ml) of true steam distilled
rose essential oil is over $100. Then some oils can be inexpensive, like peppermint essential oil at $5. Essential oils come in a variety of scents. They can be very pleasant to smell, as well as medicinal, and there are some that do not smell good at all.

Once you have determined if you have a fragrance or an essential oil, there are a few things you need to know about the essential oil before you buy it. Usually good essential oils are sold with common and scientific names so you can identify the plant source. There should be the country of origin. This lets you know from where the oil is coming. Then there should be information on how the essential oil was processed; usually this will be through steam distillation. I would ask the supplier questions if any of this information were missing from the label.

How to properly store and care for your essential oils?
With a little care and understanding of how oils work, you can maintain your oils for years. Keep them out of the light, heat, and moisture. Keep the lids on when not in use. Keep oils out of windows and strong light. Keep your oils cool or refrigerated. Keep your oils in dark bottles.

What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of therapeutic oils extracted from natural plant matter in order to encourage good health and well being. These therapeutic oils are often referred to as essential oils and fixed (or carrier oils). Essential oils are extracted from trees, flowers, shrubs, and herbs from all over the world and have their own unique chemical makeup. Fixed oils are extracted mostly from nuts or vegetables, and are composed mostly of fatty acids.

The term aromatherapy can be very misleading. Products in our stores with labels like mango shampoo, strawberry candles, honeysuckle bubble bath, and others profess to be aromatherapy products just because they have a scent. A true aromatherapist would question the ingredients. Most are made with fragrances. Fragrances are synthetic materials made in laboratories. Essential oils are not synthetic, but come from real plants, usually through steam distillation.

What is a certified aromatherapist?
As of yet in this country, like in most alternative or complementary therapies, there is no legitimate board for aromatherapy certification. In Canada, England, and parts of Europe there are schools one can attend. Training can take 2 to 4 years. In America, by reading books, anyone could call themselves an aromatherapist. Recently the term "certified" aromatherapist has become popular to counter this. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) has set up guidelines on becoming a certified aromatherapist. Gritman's Essential Oil School has taken these into consideration. Certification can vary greatly. It the responsibility of the students to weigh all of their options to see what program serves them best.

What are fixed or carrier oils?
Aromatherapy is not only about essential oils. Aromatherapy, especially in massage, involves the use of fixed oils. In aromatherapy, vegetable oils are called "fixed" or "carrier" oils. These are the names given to vegetable oils usually expressed from the seeds, fruit, or nuts of a plant. These oils are not volatile and are fatty. Examples are olive, safflower, and sweet almond. Fixed oils, by themselves, have their own set of values and therapeutic properties, and can be used with or without essential oils. If you blend essential oils with fixed oils, the fixed oils should constitute the bulk (90-95%) of your blend.

How do you use essential oils in aromatherapy?

Essential oils enter the body in several different ways. They are absorbed through the skin passing into the circulatory system. They can also be inhaled, passing into the blood stream through the lungs or through the nose to the brain causing signals to be transmitted directly to the limbic system in the brain. Smelling or diffusing the oils into the air is a basic way to transmit the oils. Massage is also a very popular method of working the oils into the body, but a fixed oil is needed.

How do essential oils work?
Essential oils enter the body in several different ways. They are absorbed through the skin passing into the circulatory system. They can also be inhaled, passing into the blood stream through the lungs or by causing signals to be transmitted through the nervous system directly into the limbic system of the brain. Smelling or diffusing the oils into the air is a basic way to transmit the oils. Massage is also a very popular method of working the oils into the body, but here a fixed oil is needed.

What is therapeutic blending?
Most of the time when discussing blending, it is in reference to perfume making. But there is a tremendous difference between perfume blending and therapeutic blending. Whereas perfume blending is most concerned with the final resulting scent and has no concern to therapeutic value; therapeutic blending focuses on creating a blend that will aid with a particular emotional or physical condition. It concentrates more on the final result than on the aroma of the blend.

How do you blend?

Start creating blends using essential oils only. After you have finalized the blend, then you can dilute it by adding the carrier oils.
When starting a new blend, start out small. Use 5, 10, 20, or 25 total drops of essential oils. By starting small, the risk of wasting essential oils is lessened.
Keep a notebook of all blends you make. List each oil you used, how many drops of each oil, the date you made it, how long you let it sit, and any other information about the blend you made. Don't throw any of it away. Keep a record of every blend you make, even the bombs.
Label each blend clearly. If you don't have enough room on the label to do so, label it with corresponding numbers on the label and in your notebook.

Blending Percentages:
When working with blends, in order to assure your clients' safety, never use more than a total of 10% of essential oils in your blend. This is the percentage used in commercial massage blends. In sprays, lotions, and other products, the essential oil percentages can be as low as 1%. 1/3 oz bottles have approximately 250 drops in them.

Amount: (Total Blend) 5-10% Dilution: (Essential Oils to Add)
1/6 oz (125 drops) 6-12 Drops
1/3 oz (250 drops) 12-25 Drops
1/2 oz (375 drops) 25-37 Drops
1 oz (750 drops) 37-75 Drops
2 oz (1500 drops) 75-150 Drops
4 oz (3000 drops) 150-300 drops
8 oz (6000 drops) 300-600 drops

What are some common ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy?
Massage oil is created by mixing a fixed oil or prepared massage cream and essential oils. This can be applied as full body, hand, or foot massage. The ratio is usually 1oz of oil or cream to 25-30 drops of oil. You will find that with most of your clients, 1 oz of a fixed oil will be more than enough for the massage, and you will actually have some massage oil left over.

Compresses are cloths soaked in about 15 drops of essential oil and hot or cold water. Wring the cloth and place it on the area needing healing. Hot compresses are used for muscular pains and cramps, and cold compresses are used for swelling and headaches.
Diffusing is dispersing minute particles of essential oils into the air by heating water that contains essential oils. You can usually buy diffusers from your essential oil supplier. However, this can easily be done by simmering a pot of water on the stove and adding your essential oils to the warm water.
Misting is combining water and essential oils to a spray bottle. Shake and spray the air in your home, work, car, or on your animals and yourself. The ratio is usually 1 oz of water to 25-30 drops of essential oils.
Steam Inhalation is used to help breathing. Take a bowl of hot water, add 4-8 drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, place a towel over your head, and breath deeply for about 5 minutes.
Bath therapy is adding the essential oils to your bath water. Draw a warm bath, and add the blend before you get into the water. Stir the water vigorously to mix the oils with the water. It is best not to use soap, just the oils, as you will soak and breathe the oils. The oils are also absorbed through the skin.
After Shower Spray a form of misting, and is used when the client doesn't’t want (or cannot) lay in the bathtub. After the client has showered, take your mister and spritz the body with the blend.

What is Intuitive Essential Oil Therapy?
Simply it is a way for your body to heal easily and effortlessly. With the use of a pendulum, oils are selected to help you move through physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues. Once your energy field is reviewed and the oils are selected, a story is woven to support you through your individual needs. Then you are given instructions on how to use the oils in a bath, massage, or other healing modality

How does intuitive differ from classical aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy deals primarily with your physical and emotional well being. Aromatherapists prescribe oils much like a doctor prescribes medication. In intuitive essential oil therapy the oils are allowed to come forward and play a more of a dynamic role in intuitive therapy. The client also takes an active role in his or her own healing. The intuitive therapist is much more interested in your energy field and your emotional, spiritual, mental bodies as well as the physical body.

For more information on this practice look e-mail Amy at athena@gritman.com or call 1-888-GRITMAN.