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Oils

 

About Enfleurage essential oils

We strive to bring you only the highest quality essential oils for your aromatherapy, culinary, vibrational or perfumery needs. Most of our oils are directly sourced from the farms and stills. We buy organic whenever feasible and otherwise rely mainly on small family farms, local gatherers, and small cottage industries. Many of our costlier oils are GC tested for purity and we grade our oils based on smell, taste, colour, and vibrancy as well. I travel through the world as much as possible to see growing practices and distillations for myself. Nothing is added to our essential oils and hydrosols. No preservatives, no isolates, no “enhancers”, no alcohol. What you get is the aromatic soul of the plant. Purely.

Are all our oils organic?

Not all oils are available with an organic certification. You should question anyone who claims all of their oils have it. The reasons are two-fold. One, some countries simply don't have the infrastructure. Somali frankincense is a good example. The second reason is the cost. Many small producers cannot afford the high annual fee for certification. This has no bearing on whether pesticides were used or the state of the ground water. It's just not affordable. In some developed countries such as France land is certified organic for wild gathering. This is really great, but it doesn't diminish other wild harvests, which may occur in equally pristine areas but without the certification. Also, sometimes organic certification doesn't really mean anything. If someone clears a patch of old growth forest, for example, and plants eucalyptus trees there instead, then perhaps, according to that country's laws, nothing has changed, since the land is still covered with trees, despite it now being a monocrop of a foreign species. This area will not have had any pesticide usage, as it was forest, and now will not need any for eucalyptus. So technicially this land can be certified organic. Truly this happens

Where do the wild crafted oils come from?

These botanicals are generally harvested from remote areas such as the Laurentian forest of Quebec, the Omani desert, the Himalayan foothills and the Lao jungle. In all cases the harvesters are local people with a direct interest in the harvest and their future. Every effort is made to insure that these harvests are legal and ethical, including any plants listed as endangered species.

What type of farms do we deal with?

In most cases, we deal only with small, family farms, and co-ops. Most of these cannot offer organic certification, although most of them grow without pesticides or inorganic fertilizers. However, this is in all cases, a choice on the part of the farmer. It is nonsense to think that because someone lives in an undeveloped country and is poor, that they cannot afford fertilizers and pesticides. Those are the very people large companies such as Monsanto focus on. Toxic condiments are cheap.

Do we offer "Therapeutic grade"?

Yes, of course. But this is a meaningless statement as there is no standard explaining what that is. There are generally accepted terms of "food grade," and "commercial grade," and "pharmaceutical grade" but not "therapeutic grade." Pharmaceutical grade is grown specifically for the pharmaceutical industry, and requires essential oils to be treated as medical products, with exact levels of constituents, and not much variation. This is at odds with the spirit of aromatherapy, and the wild and variable nature of the oils we deal with. Food grade should mean more than it does. Commercial grade is a very low standard (as far as natural therapies are concerned,) and allowances are made for adulteration and "nature identical." We offer the best oils I can find; our standards are extremely high and all of our oils are pure, fresh, and possessing their therapeutic properties, as well as being suitable for culinary use where applicable. But I will not pretend that there is any "grading system" in place.

Absolutes, Essential Oils and Enfleurage?

Technically, essential oils are water or steam distilled. Although we have a tendency to call all of the oils "essential oils" for convenience, these are three different things. The distillation process requires boiling, and water boils at 212º, (100C.) Some flowers won't put up with this and their fragrance breaks down. The solution is to use a medium with a lower boiling temperature than water. This is usually hexane. The end product is called an absolute, and the scent is often bigger, richer and more complex than an essential oil. Absolutes are great for perfumery, not appropriate for culinary uses. Some people use them in aromatherapy, and some don't. The argument is usually that absolutes retain some hint of hexane, which is not physically the case, but vibrationally it's possible. Sometimes, you will find a hexane smell when you open the bottle of an absolute - this usually evaporates off quickly and is mostly found with absolutes from developing countries where the hexane quality standard is not so high. It's up to you to decide for yourself if you want to include absolutes in your aromatherapy practice, but you won't find a jasmine or carnation essential oil, just the absolutes. Enfleurage is our new extraction process and we are happy to offer oils made by a modern version of thia process. This involves a gentle coaxing of aromatic molecules into palm oil, which is allowed to saturate over time and then is washed with alcohol, which is then distilled to separate out the oil.

About our Incense?

Our incense and exotics change frequently. We offer Japanese and Indian incense sticks but the majority of our incense is natural and in raw bulk form. Frankincense, Myrrh, Benzoin, Copal, and the like are exudates from trees and bushes. Bakhurs are local Arabian incenses from the Gulf. Sometimes we get small batches of something I find in Marrakech, perhaps. Or someone might bring me from Sudan. Or perhaps I might return with a sampling of Bakhurs from the Sana'a market in Yemen. And we have many varities of frankincense. And usually we have a few different agarwood grades as well. Most of these incenses need to be burned on charcoal.

The sandalwood situation

A sad situation but one we need to look at with clear eyes. There is a tiny amount of sandalwood oil from India, Santalum album. But this is not available. It is strictly controlled. If you are curious about the annual export allowance of legal Indian sandalwood, then please go and negotiate the Indian government websites. Basically, you will not find Santalum album from India anywhere. There is none coming from Mysore, none from Tamil Nadu, and none from any "recently opened forests in Kerala." What I suspect (but admittedly have no concrete proof of,) is that this sandalwood oil comes from Africa, from Tanzania perhaps, and comes up by sea through the port of Cochin and that would technically make it "from Kerala" if you stretch it. Africa is still an easy place to steal natural resources from, as long as you have the transportation solutions. Minerals, gems, timber, whatever, it's all there, and most countries don't have a lot of luck safeguarding these. So there is not much sandalwood coming out of India at the moment and I'm afraid this also means no attars. Mitti, rose, jasmine, etc, all attars are supposed to be made with sandalwood. I investigated these in Jan-Feb 2008 and found plenty of plasticizers and phthlates in the attar distilleries in Kannauj. You can read about it on my blog if you like. Naturally, every distiller had an excuse about how attars were available both with sandalwood and chemically but I think this is really absolute rot. I tried to set up a situation where I would personally buy sandalwood logs at the auction, escort them up to the distilleries of Uttar Pradesh and stay for the entire distillation. At any price. Despite assurances to the contrary, this proved to be impossible. So no Indian sandalwood, no attars. Sorry. Sandalwood is being replanted, although in what numbers in India I don't know. He is a slow growing tree and so not as attractive financially as agarwood. There is plenty of sandalwood coming from plantations in Australia, though, (usually Santalum spicatum and nothing really like the lovely warm soft sweetness we know as sandalwood, but sustainable.) You can also find oil coming from the South Pacific--Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, The Society Islands, etc. Whether or not these are sustainable I have no idea. We used to have a very nice one, from a certified plantation, but over the years this gradually lowered in quality until we couldn't buy it any more. And I see so many places with South pacific oil that I wonder if it's all plantation oil. I have no idea. The other place we are seeing oil from is Indonesia. We have some very nice Santalum album in the store right now. It is supposed to be from plantations but I have not yet seen these. That's all I can say on the world sandalwood situation.

The agarwood situation

This has now progressed to where there is basically no wild wood left. However, there are a lot of farms--millions of trees under cultivation and they are fast growing trees. Meanwhile, there's a huge scrabble to find, keep and patent the infecting process. I have mixed feelings about these cultivated trees, and we still have wild origin oil in the store. There is a huge amount of slash and burn occurring in most of the world's forests, certainly in Laos. But this is not due to agarwood harvesting, and occurs despite the harvest, not because of it. I do not think it deserves the label "endangered" as it's one of the most heavily planted trees in Southeast Asia. For more information on this please see my article: Agarwood - Is it Endangered?

The frankincense situation

There is not a lot of Omani frankincense gum available. This is due to a few circumstances. Some people say overharvesting. Some say climactic changes and there might be elements of both here but I think the main issue is that the Somali harvesters have been thrown out. Most of the world's frankincense comes from Somalia and Somalis are the acknowledged experts for anything related to frankincense. Omanis as a rule don't like the labour involved with harvesting frankincense. So the Somalis have traditionally done it. But a couple of years ago the Omani government started to send the Somalis back to their country. The trade, however, continues. There are plenty of small boats, dhows, bringing Somalia's frankincense harvest to market. Remember, there is not much commerce in Somalia. The infrastructure of Somalia is a mess. Mogadishu is a ruin, and there is not much possibility of selling anything to an international market from there. So it's better to just pack it into boats and sail up to Yemen or Oman with it. I'm not too sure about the legality of this trade, but it doesn't really matter. The point is that most frankincense is Somali, and has a distinctive smell from the Omani. Most frankincense, even that found in the Salalah frankincense market, is Somali in origin, and I suspect even many of the vendors don't know this. The resins look almost identical, and although there are differences, these have to be learned over time. It's all sold as Omani, as local gum though. So even though it does exist, the supply of Omani resin is not reliable enough to supply big essential oil suppliers. I spend most of my time in Salalah, distilling frankincense, and I can say that I would be surprised if anyone else had this oil as it takes lots and lots of time.

Real, non-adulterated agarwood oil?

Yes, agarwood has been my obsession and specialty for 14 years. I have traveled all over the world for it, and have personally witnessed the entire chain, from raw material gathered through the bottling of the oil. We also test every batch by GC. But the main test, once again, is smelling, and how long the fragrance lasts.

Animal products

We don't usually have these, due the way these are "harvested." As far as I know, all extractions of musk, castorum, and civet are cruel and not something we will support. I do not believe in the stories of "ethically harvested" musk or "cruelty free"civet. However, when animal products can be gathered, then we are delighted to have them. Ambergris is usually found on beaches, although I think perhaps the whaling industry, especially in Japan, may also seek ambergris. But our ambergris is Arabian. The other animal product we carry is African Stone which is the concentrated fecal matter of Africa's Rock Hyrax.

More useful information

I really do travel to these places. We have many suppliers, from many countries, and one of the reasons I started this business was because I found this interesting and I love to travel. I know many companies claim that their oils are personally researched and collected from faraway places but ours actually are.

Prices can change without notice The essential oil market is a volatile one! Planetary conditions and the dynamics of climate, whether political or geographical can play havoc with availability and prices.

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and Paypal for next day shipping

We usually manage to ship the same day, or the next business day