Essential Oils Blog

Organic Sandalwood — DIY Shaving Cream

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Organic Sandalwood has a woody, calming scent that helps to reduce nervous tension.  When applied topically it can help reduce oiliness and cool and soothe the skin.  These properties make it a fabulous addition to shaving cream.

Organic Sandalwood Product Sheet Template

Tropical Paradise Shaving Cream

tropical whipped shaving cream

 

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure ingredients.
  2. Whip Shea butter, Coconut oil, and Sunflower oil until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes, I prefer not to melt soft butters because they can easily overheat and become grainy).
  3. Add essential oils and mix for an additional minute.
  4. Store in an airtight container.

Organic Mandarin–Uplifting Body Wash

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Organic Mandarin smells just like Mandarin oranges.  It’s uplifting, soothes nervous tension, and eases sadness.  It’s a fabulous, gentle, sweet, citrus scent that is perfect for the end of a long day.

Organic Mandarin Product Sheet - Template

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure all ingredients.
  2. Put into bottle.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Store in your bathroom as use as you would a traditional body wash.

This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

 

Farm and Distillery visit in France

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I was recently able to visit both France and Morocco, with the intent of checking out some of the farms that are producing our oils as well as their distilleries, and meet with some suppliers. I was not disappointed. I brought Paul, Plant Therapy’s Vice President, and my 12-year-old daughter Alexa. This kind of international travel can be exhausting but I feel like we accomplished our mission and I want to share some of it with you.

In France we saw the following oil producing crops:

After arriving in Paris and spending the first day and a half visiting traditional tourist destinations (Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Café de Flore, etc), we took the high speed train out to Valence (roughly 400 miles).

Eiffel Tower- Chris and Alexa

We were greeted by our supplier and we drove out into the countryside to visit his farms and distilleries. This was incredibly beautiful. Just like you see in the movies.

Classic French Countryside- photo by Chris

They don’t have lots of farms that are hundreds of acres like we have in Idaho. Their farms are much smaller. Many are only 3-5 acres tucked into a hillside. The first farm we visited was only one hectare (2.5 acres) of Melissa along with some other crops, including corn flower and some lemon thyme.

Melissa Farm

Lemon Thyme- new crop

They will harvest 8 tons of fresh plant material to yield one kg (2.2 lbs) of essential oil. They are pleased with this result but still working on getting a higher yield. Just a few years ago it required 12-13 tons of fresh plant material to yield one kg of Melissa essential oil. By working with the local research program and continually selecting only the best plants, they have been able to increase their yields. The next stop was another field of Melissa that was just planted this spring. They will get a small harvest this fall, but won’t yield much. The Melissa plant can be kept up to 7 years before they have to rotate crops. The highest yield years are from 3-5. After that time the weeds begin to become worse and the maintenance costs are too high. They rotate these crops on a minimum 12-year rotation. 5-7 years in Melissa, 2 years in wheat, then another 5 years in alfalfa.

Melissa (Lemon Balm) Up Close

We drove up into the mountainous areas, passing through the many vineyards and wineries that produce the famous Clairette wines. We saw both Lavender and Lavandin varieties during the day. [a quick note about the lavender varieties- these plants will grow almost anywhere. Also both true Lavender and Lavandin are naturally growing plants. The main difference is that lavender has one spine but many flowers. Spike lavender has many spines but few flowers. Lavandin is a naturally occurring hybrid between the two which basically has the spines of spike lavender and the flowers of true lavender yielding a lot more oil per plant, which in turn makes it less expensive. It was discovered by a pharmacist who named the plant after himself.]  When we got up into the hills we visited amazingly beautiful Melissa fields. The entire valley that these fields are in has been certified organic for over 30 years. There are very few weeds and the crops grow incredibly well.

Melissa Farm in Mountains. With barn.

Melissa Farm- with Chris

Drone Shot in France

We went further up into the hills and took a short walk to a field of thyme. They had just harvested this the week before and the smell of Thyme oil was very pungent. It didn’t look great due to the recent harvest.

Thyme (thymol) in Freshly Harvested Field

Thyme (thymol) in hand

Next we visited the drying warehouse and harvesting equipment.

Drying Tables in production barn

Harvesting Equipment- non-woody plants

They use this machine for non-woody plants like Melissa (it won’t work on woody plants like Lavender, Thyme, Rosemary, etc.). The plant material is cut by blades on the front, which you can’t see in the photo because they have been removed, and it runs up a belt into the hopper. They drive the machine right into the warehouse where it is unloaded and moved around by overhead cranes on beams. If they are making the crop into a tea, they will put it on drying tables and blow air up from below. If they are being distilled, they will harvest it and take it to the distillery the same day. Outside this warehouse we saw some Clary Sage plants.

Paul with volunteer Clary Sage plants

These plants are just volunteer and got here by hitching a ride on the harvesting equipment when it left the field. For some plants the oil molecules are on the outside of the plant on the trichome, while others are inside. For Clary Sage, I was able to zoom in with a lens attached to my phone and get some up close photos of the oil itself.

Clary Sage up close

Clary Sage- zoom showing oil drops

As we continued on we visited scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Juniper trees. These are wild harvested in the area. They are also certified organic because they are growing on organic wool farms. When the farms need to clear some land for more sheep grazing they will call this essential oil distiller and they will harvest the trees rather than just using them for firewood. For the pine they will chip up the branches and needles, but for the Juniper they will do just the bark. It is chipped up into ½” chips and then steam distilled. They will then return the distilled plants to be composted on the land. They are very acidic and the land is naturally alkaline so it works well.

In this large distillery the trucks will back into the upper floor and dump the plant material on steel plates. They use an overhead crane to load the large hoppers.

Distillation Facility- on 2nd floor with Paul

Overhead Crane Attachment

The large hopper is 5,000 liters and can hold roughly 8 tons of fresh plant material. The smaller one is 3,000 liters and can hold approximately 6 tons of material. One thing that is unique about this distillery vs the others that I have visited, is that these units are heated by exchange, rather than direct steam. What looks like a boiler is actually full of heated mineral oil, which then heats the water that is pumped into the bottom of the vessel. It was originally set up like this because it used to be against organic regulations to introduce direct steam to the plant, because they include anti-oxidant agents to the water to prevent calcium buildup which could cause an explosion. It is also quite efficient. Once they heat the oil up it will maintain a high temperature for 24 hours. Once the plant material is finished they will use an overhead crane to remove the sieve from the hopper and dump it into a waiting truck to be composted.

The actual distillation will not take long- maybe an hour- but then the cleanup and changeover process takes around 6 hours to complete. If they harvest more than they can distill in one batch, they must spread the plant material out so it doesn’t get too hot. If it is left in a pile, it will start to become hot enough within an hour that it will start to distill on its own and the oil will be lost. If they suspect storms are coming they will harvest a couple of days’ worth and spread it out to distill during the storms.

Oil Separator at Distillation Facility

We were then taken to the processing plant where we ate lunch. Our host had ordered the following 4 pizzas: salmon, goat cheese, ravioli, and some type of spicy meat with peppers. I am not a particularly adventurous eater, but we all got full.

Lunch Time with some unique pizza

This is an impressive facility with many moving parts. Because they are a pharmaceutical grade facility, they have very stringent rules. We were required to suit up before moving on.

Alexa in the lab

In the Lab at essential oil facility

They have a full in-house testing facility and elaborate samples storage system. When the bulk oils are brought in they get checked in, samples taken and then get put into a large cone tank. They let them settle for 48 hours then drain off the bottom of the tank to remove any sediment and/or water left over.

Settlement tank at processing facility

They will then pump the oil out through a filter to remove any small particles. Depending on the oil it will then be put into drums and moved into cold storage which is kept at 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

They also distill products on site. Some essential oils as well as hydrosols.

Hydrosol distillation units at facility in France

The hydrosols have their own section of the plant and are processed in a similar way, except that they are filtered through a much smaller micron filter and also UV filtered. I was also intrigued by their custom designed and built mobile distillation units. They have one smaller unit that can go on a large roll-off truck (pictured) and a much larger one that fits on 3 semi-trucks. They will drive these units right out into the field and harvest and distill right on site. This is a unique concept and a bit revolutionary. It is run by a large diesel generator and the only thing they need from the farm is fresh water.

Portable distillation unit- state of the art design

After returning to the office to discuss business, we were taken back to the train station where we headed back to Paris.

High Speed Train in France

We stayed the night in Paris and left for Morocco the following morning. Stay tuned for that blog post in the future!

Chris Jones
Plant Therapy

Organic Lavender Fine–Himalayan Bath Bombs

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Organic Lavender Fine is such a pure, gentle smelling Lavender.  It promotes rest and relaxation, revitalizes the skin, and releases worry and tension.  These properties make it ideal to add to a warm bath to wash your worries away.  Scroll to the bottom for a great chart about Organic Lavender Fine.

DIY Magnesium bath bomb

These bath bombs are packed with magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron.  The addition of Organic Lavender Fine truly makes this a physically and emotionally relaxing experience.

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure and mix dry ingredients.
  2. In separate bowl measure and mix oils.
  3. Slowly pour oil into wet mixture and mix well (I added my oil in three different parts).
  4. Firmly press mixture into each side of the mold with extra.
  5. Press sides together.
  6. Tap each side gently with spoon to help remove from mold.
  7. Set on cookie sheet until completely dry.
  8. Add one to each bath for a relaxing, skin loving, magnesium filled, luxurious soak!

Organic Lavender Fine Product Sheet - Template

This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

 

Plant Therapy Organic Certification

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usda

On May 10th, 2015 Plant Therapy became a certified organic facility through ECOCERT ICO, an inspection and certification organization fully accredited through The National Organic Program (NOP). As our line of certified organic products continues to grow, we wanted to take a moment and discuss what this really means to your, our customer.

As a company, we have always been passionate about helping to conserve our precious natural resources and reducing environmental pollution. The next time you order a bottle of your favorite essential oil that holds the USDA certified organic seal, you can feel confident in knowing that your purchase is contributing to this goal.

At Plant Therapy, we have always believed in exceptional quality and the purest of ingredients. It has always been of the utmost importance for us to know everything about the farmers, distillers, suppliers and plants. By having this additional certification, we can also proudly say that we are adhering to the strictest of standards to bring you quality organic ingredients.

Some of these standards include:

No GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms are prohibited in organic products. This means that an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds and an organic producer can’t use any ingredients containing GMOs.

Clean soil: The land where the products are grown must not have had any prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

No harmful pesticides: Crop pests, weeds, and diseases are controlled primarily through physical, mechanical and biological efforts. If for some reason these methods are not working, a biological, botanical or synthetic substance that is approved on the National List may be used.

All organic, all the way: Operations must use only organic seeds and other planting material.
When you purchase a certified organic product, you are also helping to conserve biodiversity, ensuring that our natural landscapes and their ecosystems are maintained and intact for generations to come.

At Plant Therapy, we are committed to supporting these conservation efforts and to be able to offer to our customers certified organic options.

To learn more, visit these links:

For a list of all of our certified organic products, please follow this link:

Plant Therapy Organics

Throughout this week, keep an eye out for some exciting product profiles and recipes on our new certified organic releases!

Frankincense Carteri CO2 — DIY Muscle & Joint Rub

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The process in which CO2’s are extracted enable the essential oil to maintain constituents that may not be present through steam distillation.  Read more about CO2 Extracts here.

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Download Printable Frankincense Carteri CO2 Chart Here

Frankincense Carteri CO2 is excellent for sore muscles and aging joints.  It is also fabulous for mature skin and can be used in this serum found here.  Use it to promote clear breathing; 2 drops Frankincense Carteri CO2, 2 drops Eucalyptus, 1 drop Rosemary, 1 drop Spruce into your diffuser.

DIY Pain Salve

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure your oil and beeswax into a half pint jar. Place the metal band from the jar in the bottom of a pan of water. Then place your half pint jar on it. I have had jars crack sitting on the bottom of the pot, so I now use this method to reduce the risk of cracking.
  2. Melt the oils with the beeswax, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the oils and wax are melted, carefully remove to a space on the counter. I lay out a dish towel to protect the counter. Stir in your essential oils.
  4. Allow the salve to cool, with the lid on so the oils don’t evaporate out. Leaving the salve set until fully cooled will ensure a smooth final finish on top!

Frankincense Serrata CO2– DIY Yoga Spray

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The process in which CO2’s are extracted enable the essential oil to maintain constituents that may not be present through steam distillation.  Read more about CO2 Extracts here.

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Download printable Frankincense Serrata CO2 Chart Here

With Frankincense Serrata CO2 it is left with a very complete scent. It has a green and woody aroma that is so pleasant that it can even be used on it’s own.  It is often used in perfumes as the scent is so appealing.  This oil is used in many forms of therapy as it is prized for it’s meditative and mind clearing abilities.

These properties make it ideal for use during yoga and meditation.  I use this recipe as a room spray, as well as a linen mist applied directly to my non-slip yoga towel.  It helps me to relax and gather my thoughts, no better way to start your day!

To use in your diffuser use 3 drops Frankincense Serrata CO2, 2 drops Cardamom, 2 drops Lavender Fine.

DIYYoga Spray

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure ingredients.
  2. Add all ingredients to spray bottle.
  3. Shake and Spray!

This post contains affiliate links which support Africa Heartwood Project. This means they will receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. To learn more about Africa Heartwood Project click here.

German Chamomile CO2 — DIY Face Serum

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The process in which CO2’s are extracted enable the essential oil to maintain constituents that may not be present through steam distillation.  Read more about CO2 Extracts here.

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Download printable German Chamomile CO2 Chart Here

In the case of German Chamomile CO2, Matricine is maintained in the extraction process where it is lost when steam distilled.  Matricine is one of the components most sought after for sensitive, dry, or reddened skin.

You can replace the carrier oils with those you prefer however I find that the carrier oils I chose really help with the intended purpose of each recipe.  See recipe options for all skin types at the bottom.

DIYFace Serum

What you’ll need for dry, reddened, sensitive skin;

What you’ll do;

  1. Measure all ingredients.
  2. Put into bottle.
  3. Secure lid.

To use;

Apply to face each night, massage into skin.  Enjoy a well moisturized and balanced looking complexion!

Recipe ideal for mature skin;

Recipe ideal for oily, blemished skin;

 

DIY Massage Oil (masculin scent)

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The memories associated with the scent of conifer trees brings me to a place of such peace and relaxation.  Throw it into a massage oil with properties to relax my tight muscles and I’m in a euphoric place!  Whip up this great blend for yourself, it has a deep masculine scent that is a perfect alternative to the typical floral massage oils.  I’ve also been adding this to my epsom salts for a super relaxing bath (just be careful getting out of the tub as the oil can make it slippery).  Balsam Fir is such a wonderfully versatile oil, plus it smells amazing.  You can use it for; uplifting yet soothing mood boost, calming muscles and joints, open and support your upper respiratory system, as well as aid in balancing emotions.  Bonus chart at the bottom.

DIYBack WoodsMassage Blend

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Pour everything into your bottle.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Shelf life of 1 year if stored properly.

Balsam Fir Product Sheet Template

Soothe Tummy Trouble (DIY Inhaler)

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Soothe Tummy Trouble

Cardamom is my favorite new oil!  I just went on a 6,000+ mile road trip.  I suffer from motion sickness, cleaning up vomit from the car (or worse, my kids) is something that I would really like to avoid!  I also know, from past experience, that we’ll probably end up eating something on the road that doesn’t settle well.  I decided that a blend for an upset stomach was a necessity for our first aid kit.  I’ve often used dill, which makes me crave pickles, so I really love the more gentle scent of cardamom.

What you’ll need;

What you’ll do;

  1. Place new wick on bottom of glass cup or bowl.
  2. Drop essential oils onto wick.
  3. Use tweezers to pick up saturated wick and place inside inhaler.
  4. Push bottom into place.
  5. Use as needed for occasional digestive upset.