What's Essential oils?
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What's Essential oils?

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What's Essential oils?

Essential oils are liquid products of steam or water distillation of plant parts (leaves, stems, bark,  seeds, fruits,  roots  and  plant  exudates).    Expression  is  used  exclusively for the extraction of citrus oil from the fruit peel, because the chemical components of the oil are easily damaged by heat.   Citrus oil production is now a major by-product process of the juice industry.  An essential oil may contain up to several hundred chemical compounds and  this  complex  mixture  of  compounds  gives  the  oil  its  characteristic  fragrance  and flavour.  An essential oil may also be fractioned and sold as individual natural components. Other processing options can also produce further products that can be sold alongside essential  oils.    The  plant  parts  can  be  extracted  with  organic  solvents  to  produce oleoresins, concretes and absolutes or extracted with a near or supercritical solvent such as carbon dioxide to produce very high quality extracts. These oleoresins and extracts contain  not only the volatile essential oil  but also the concentrated  non-volatile flavour components and these have wide application in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The solvent extraction processes are more difficult and complex than steam distillation and will  normally  be  beyond  the  financial  resources  of  most  small  scale  processors,  but supplying the raw materials to these extraction plants can be a market option.

The most important spices traditionally traded throughout the world are products of tropical environments.   The  major  exceptions to this  group  are the  capsicums  (chilli  peppers, paprika), and coriander which are grown over a much wider range of tropical and non- tropical environments.   Production of spices and essential oils in these wet and humid environments brings special difficulties for crop and product management.  Drying the crop to  ensure  a  stable  stored  product  is  of  particular  importance,  and  in  wet  humid environments this creates the need for efficient and effective drying systems.


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