Aura Cacia - Essential Oil Refreshing Sweet Basil - 0.5 oz. (15 mL)
Spicy and herbaceous, basil provides an emotional lift and mental inspiration. Try diffusing Aura Cacia Essential Oil Refreshing Sweet Basil to dispel after-lunch lethargy. Basil is thought to be native to Asia and Africa, but many culinary forms are now grown throughout the world.
Essential Oil Basics
Essential oils are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic essences of plants. Scientists agree that essential oils may perform more than one function in living plants. In some cases they seem to be a part of the plant's immune system. In other cases they may simply be end-products of metabolism. Essential oils contain hundreds of organic constituents, including hormones, vitamins and other natural elements that work on many levels. They are 75 to 100 times more concentrated than the oils in dried herbs.
All the countries of the world provide essential oils, making aromatherapy a truly global therapy.
Not all Oils are Created Equal
Some plants, like rose and jasmine, contain very little essential oil. Their important aromatic properties are extracted using a chemical solvent. The end product, known as an absolute, contains essential oil along with other plant constituents. Though not a true essential oil, absolutes are commonly used for fragrancing cosmetic products like fine perfumes.
There are also significant differences between synthetic fragrance oils and pure essential oils. Synthetic fragrance oils are produced by blending aromatic chemicals primarily derived from coal tar. These oils may duplicate the smell of the pure botanical, but the complex chemical components of each essential oil created in nature determine its true aromatic benefits. While synthetic fragrance oils are not suitable for aromatherapy, they add an approximation of the natural scent to crafts, potpourri, soap and perfume at a fraction of the cost.
Aromatherapy practitioners need pure essential oils of the highest quality. Important criteria to consider when selecting essential oils include the following: 100% pure and natural, country of origin, growing season, extraction method (e.g., distillation, expression), plant part used and the reputation of the company providing the oils.
Gems of Nature
Pure essential oils, like precious jewelry or fine wine, are gems of nature -- the quintessential life force of aromatic plants, sometimes called the "soul" of the plant. People who truly appreciate the qualities of pure essential oils consider each drop a precious jewel to be savored, enjoyed and protected.
Essential oils absorb into the fluid surrounding the cells beneath the skin's surface for a variety of effects including deep cleansing, nourishing, rejuvenating and balancing. Essential oils also diffuse into the air to provide olfactory benefits.
Extraction of Essential Oils
To extract essential oils in the most effective manner while preserving their therapeutic benefits, they are either distilled or expressed. The two methods are briefly explained below.
Pure essential oils are most commonly extracted from plants through the process of steam distillation. In this process, steam is introduced into a distillation chamber which contains the plant material. The steam breaks down the plant tissue, causing it to release its essential oil in a vaporized form. The vaporized essences, along with the steam and other substances, pass into a pipe through cooling tanks. The vapors return to liquid form and are separated from the water and captured as pure essential plant oil.
Expression, also known as cold pressing, is done exclusively with citrus oils. In this method, the oil-containing outer layer of the fruit is pressed and filtered to yield pure essential oil.
It takes 50 pounds of eucalyptus, 150 pounds of lavender, 500 pounds of rosemary, 1,000 pounds of jasmine and over 2,000 pounds of rose to make a single pound of essential oil! The price of each essential oil is directly related to the amount of plant material needed for distillation.
Essential Oil Quality
Every Aura Cacia essential oil must pass a battery of tests to ensure its authenticity, quality and purity. They perform four major tests in the scientific analysis on every essential oil:
Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GCMS)
Gas chromatography separates the individual constituents of an essential oil and measures the amount of each constituent present. It confirms an oil's botanical identity by comparing presence & amount of each constituent. GC can screen for non-natural or missing constituents, or constituents occurring in unnaturally high ratios, signifying adulteration. With the addition of mass spectrometry capabilities in 2007, Aura Cacia testing capabilities have reached a new high. MS specificially identifies the constituents in essential oils by name and pinpoints the adulterants that are commonly used.
Measures the weight of an essential oil at 25 degrees C. Every oil is made up of a unique constituents. At a given temperature, these constituents have a predictable weight. If an oil has been adulterated, the weight may be thrown off.
Measures direction, left or right, and the degree to which light rays bend or rotate as they pass through an essential oil. Every oil is made up of unique constituents, which predictably influence the direction and degree to which light rays bend as they pass through the oil. If an oil has been adulterated, the degree of rotation may be thrown off.
Measures the speed at which light passing through an essential oil is refracted. Every oil is made up of unique constituents. These constituents predictably influence the speed and number of degrees at which they refract light. If an oil has been adulterated, the speed and degree of refraction may be thrown off.
Aura Cacia's in-house biochemist, Dr Denys Charles, Ph.D., has spent the last 10 years studying and analyzing the composition of essential oils - learn more about Dr. Charles and his work.
Essential Oil Safety
Essential oils are very concentrated. Their safe use requires they be treated with care and respect. The user should be knowledgeable about their properties and actions before any use. Most personal applications require drops rather than ounces.
- Always read and follow all label warnings and cautions
- Keep oils tightly closed and out of the reach of children
- Never ingest essential oils
- Don't use undiluted oils on your skin (Dilute with vegetable oils such as sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil)
- Skin test oils before using. Dilute a small amount and apply to the skin on your inner arm. Do not use if redness or irritation occurs.
- Keep oils away from eyes and mucous membranes.
- If redness, burning, itching or irritation occur, stop using oils immediately.
- Angelica and all citrus oils make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. Do not go out into the sun with these oils on your skin.
- Sweet fennel, hyssop, sage and rosemary should not be used by anyone with epilepsy.
- People with high blood pressure should avoid hyssop, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy
Bitter Almond, Basil, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Hyssop, Sweet Fennel, Juniper Berry, Marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rose, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Wintergreen
Allspice, Bitter Almond, Basil, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Sweet Fennel, Fir Needle, Lemon, Lemongrass, Melissa, Peppermint, Tea Tree and Wintergreen
Aura Cacia FAQ's
Is separation in avocado oil a sign of a quality problem?
No. Haziness in avocado oil is of no consequence and is, in fact, an indication of natural, unrefined oil with the complete beneficial constituents. As with any skin care oil — but especially pronounced in avocado oil — if the oil is exposed to cold temperatures, some precipitation and cloudiness may be visible. This cloudiness — most apt to occur when the oil is shipped in cold weather or stored in very cool warehouses stores — is NOT an indication of poor quality, age or rancidity. Quality problems are indicated by an off aroma and elevated peroxide value. (All Aura Cacia skin care oils are checked for acceptable peroxide levels before being bottled and induction sealed to maintain freshness.) Usually the cloudiness can be eliminated by placing the bottle in a warm water bath. Also, any precipitate in the oil will melt and go back into solution when applied to skin because of body temperature.
Is it a problem to have essential oils freeze?
No. Since essential oils don't contain water, they don't actually freeze. What happens is that the cold temperature causes one or more constituent to crystalize. The quality isn't affected although sometimes the crystallized constituents may not go completely back into solution once the oil is "thawed," resulting in a "cloudy" appearance. Placing the oil in a warm location or warm water bath will eliminate the cloudiness.
What is an absolute? Is there any solvent left in the absolute?
Absolutes are not true essential oils although they are aromatic, volatile and used in aromatherapy and perfumery. They are produced by alcohol extraction, after which the alcohol is removed by vacuum distillation. The extraction is done on something called the concrete—a thick, fragrant material extracted from the plant with a hydrocarbon solvent such as hexane. The concrete contains the essential oil as well as fatty acids and waxes. Alcohol dissolves the essential oil, and the non-fragrant components either precipitate or are filtered out. This method is used for delicate plants (usually flowers) where heat distillation would damage or distort the essential oil or for plants with a very low essential oil content making distillation impractical. The most used aromatherapy absolutes are jasmine and rose. Absolutes such as carnation, hyacinth and gardenia are used in high quality perfumery. Their GC testing shows that one to two percent alcohol may be left in an absolute. They have found no traces of any of the chemical solvent used to make the concrete.
What is a hydrosol?
After steam or water distillation of an essential oil, the leftover water from the distillation is called a hydrosol. Hydrosols are mostly water with the water soluble components of the plant not found in the essential oil. They usually contain a very tiny bit of essential oil —at least enough to give the hydrosol the faint aroma of the oil. They are considered great additions to skin toners and sprays, masks and lotions where they are valued for their astringent, soothing and rejuvenating qualities. Because they are almost all water, they are can be used directly on the skin without dilution.
What does the "otto" mean in Rose Otto?
Rose otto is the steam or water distilled essential oil of the fresh petals of the damask rose (Rosa damascena) and is considered the finest rose oil in the world (and also the most expensive). Also known as attar of rose, rose otto has an intensely warm, rich, deeply rosy scent. The term otto is derived from Ottoman. It was during the rule of the Ottoman Empire that rose oil production was spread to the many Ottoman provinces, including—in the mid-fifteenth century—certain areas of what is now Bulgaria. These areas were ideally suited to rose flower production and soon became the major producer of rose otto—which they continued to be until after World War II. Today Turkey provides about 75% of the world’s production of rose otto.
Where do most oils come from?
Essential oils come from all over the world. Most essential oils are distilled on the farm or near where the plant is grown. Therefore, essential oils tend to come from the regions of the world where the plants are cultivated. Besides North America, many oils come from Europe and Southeast Asia.
Do many oils come from the United States?
There are some essential oils such as peppermint, spearmint, Texas cedarwood, dill (used in dill pickle production), wintergreen and the citrus oils that are commercially produced in the U.S. However, most are produced in other parts of the world, often in limited areas that provide the particular requirements of the plant from which they are made.
What is the difference between a fragrance oil and an essential oil?
Essential oils are distilled from the leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, tops, or fruits of plants.They are the highly concentrated, volatile, aromatic components of the plants or plant parts from which they are distilled.A fragrance is a combination of various natural and synthetic aroma chemicals, created in the lab by an aroma chemist. Fragrances attempt to mimic the aroma of an essential oil or the aroma of a plant that doesn’t have an essential oil (an apple for example), or to create an entirely new scent.Fragrances are used in perfumery and to scent all types of products such as toiletries, soaps, room fresheners, paper, tobacco products and paints.Only pure essential oils should be used in aromatherapy.
Where are the best places to apply oils for absorption?
Essential oils can be applied almost anywhere on the body (avoid the eyes, of course). However, the fastest absorption occurs on sensitive areas where there is only a small amount of hair. The soles of the feet, armpits, palms of the hand and genitals are the best areas for application of oils. Always make sure that oils are properly diluted before applying to the skin. Sensitive areas such as the armpits and the genitals, while effective in terms of absorption, are also easily irritated.
Can you use oils in food products?
Essential oils have long been used as flavorings in food. Although they don't recommend using essential oils for flavoring food at home due to safety concerns, many commercially prepared products are made using essential oils for flavor.
How safe are oils in food?
When used appropriately, pure essential oils are safe to use for flavoring food. Because people often mistake using essential oils as the same as using baking flavors, They do not recommend their use in home food preparation. Safe amounts to use depend on the oil and the use, but generally they are added to a dish by the drop rather than by the teaspoon the way baking flavors are used. And not all essential oils are considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA) and those that are not, should never be ingested.
What causes photosensitivity and what oils cause it?
Oils that contain furocoumarins can cause skin reactions if used on skin that is then exposed to ultraviolet light. These photosensitive reactions may be as mild as slight reddening of the skin, while severe cases can result in acute lesions known as bullock dermatitis. This dermatitis will resolve itself in a few weeks; however the accompanying hyper-pigmentation (brown spots on the skin) can take months or years to fully disappear. Bergamot, which contains the furocoumarin Bergapten, is especially likely to cause reactions. They sell bergapten-free bergamot (Bergamot BF) to eliminate this risk. Other oils they carry that might cause photosensitive reactions include angelica root, ginger, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin orange and tangerine.
Can you put undiluted oils directly on your skin?
In general this should be avoided, and oils should only be used with a recommended dilution based on the particular situation of the person and use of the oil (usually 1 to 3%). A few oils, including lavender, tea tree, ylang ylang and sandalwood, are mild enough to be considered for direct application, but even with these oils, They recommend doing a skin-patch test and using caution.
Are oils safe during pregnancy?
Some oils may be safe to use in small amounts during pregnancy. However, it is safest to avoid their use altogether unless under the direction of a licensed health care provider. However, if using essential oils in pregnancy, reduce the amount normally used by half and avoid using them at all during the first trimester.
What country grows the most lavender?
Lavender is grown in gardens in temperate climates around the world.Commercial production of lavender for distillation was centered in Southern France for many years but now occurs in a number of countries. Places producing the most lavender essential oil today are France, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Australia andthe Mediterranean region. Aura Cacia lavender comes from Ukraine and organic lavender oil is from Bulgaria.
Are German and Roman Chamomile related?
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) are different plants of the same family. As herbs, they are both considered kinds of chamomile with similar properties. As essential oils, they are also similar but differ in one significant respect. German chamomile oil has a blue in color that comes from a constituent called chamazulene, a potent anti-inflammatory which is produced during the distillation process. Roman chamomile has little or no chamazulene, and therefore lacks the blue color and anti-inflammatory properties.
Is Wild Chamomile related to either of them?
Wild chamomile (Ormenis mixta) is not a true chamomile and the common name is somewhat misleading. It probably got its name because of some similarities with the German or Roman chamomile, but it is significantly different in aroma and chemical composition.
How is Lavandin different from Lavender?
Lavender oil is distilled from the flowers of Lavendula angustifolia, or true lavender. Lavandin is a cross between true lavender and spike lavender. Lavandin oil has a higher camphor content than lavender oil. It is used on sore muscles and for its sanitizing and deodorizing properties. Lavandin is less expensive than lavender oil and is more abundant. It is often used as an adulterant to, or substitution for, true lavender essential oil.
Why does Aura Cacia use jojoba oil in so many products?
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax rather than a true oil, and it is very similar to the sebum of the skin. Because it forms a light, non-greasy layer that does not clog the skin’s pores, they find it to be a wonderful ingredient in all types of skin preparations. And because it is not a fat, it doesn't go rancid and thereby helps extend the shelf life of other oils to which it has been added.
What are the most adulterated oils?
According to the extensive testing they have done at Aura Cacia, the following essential oils are the ones that are most often adulterated: Lavender, Rose otto, Neroli, Rose absolute, Jasmine absolute, peppermint, bergamot, clary sage, myrrh, frankincense, juniper, clove, cinnamon bark, anise, oregano, thyme, rosemary, vetiver, wintergreen, ylang ylang, cedarwood, geranium, patchouli, sandalwood, melissa. Unfortunately, if an essential oil is not on this list, that doesn't mean that it has never been or won’t be adulterated—only that it is less commonly adulterated in their experience.
What are the most common solvents used to adulterate essential oils? Do they pose any health concerns?
Solvents used to adulterate essential oils are generally colorless and odorless and therefore not easily detectable without resorting to gas chromatography testing. Solvents they have found in essential oils include:
- Diethyl Phthalate(DEP)
- Propylene Glycol(DPG)
- Isopropyl Myristate(PEA)
- Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol(PEA)
- Butylated Hydroxy Toluene(BHT)
- Methylene Chloride
- Benzyl Chloride
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone
These solvents range from relatively benign (ethanol) to very hazardous (toluene) chemicals. Regardless of individual health effects, they do not belong in essential oils and could effect both the health benefits of the oils and may cause allergic or toxic reactions in some individuals.
Solvents are extremely hard to detect without GC (gas chromatography) testing. At Aura Cacia, they GC test every shipment of their oils to make sure that each essential oil they sell is 100% pure and unadulterated.
Why do some Peppermints smell different than others?
There are several reasons why peppermint oils may smell different. Assuming that the oils being compared are actually pure, unadulterated essential oil from Mentha piperita, the most likely reason is that one is a redistilled oil while the other (which they offer) is a natural and complete essential oil. Redistilled peppermint oil is used to flavor foods and is the flavor component in baking flavors and extracts (like theirs), while complete peppermint essential oil is appropriate for aromatherapy use. Redistillation is done to remove some of the heavier, slower to evaporate components of the oil giving it a more intense menthol aroma right out of the bottle. The complete oil has all of the oil's components, giving it a more complex, but less menthol, aroma. Oils may also smell different if the peppermint has been stretched with other cheaper mint oils such as corn mint or boosted with the addition of synthetic menthol.
What exactly is spiking?
Spiking is a form of adulteration where a specific constituent (either synthetic or from a natural source) is added to an essential oil to make the oil seem of higher quality.
How should essential oils be stored? How long do they last?
Most essential oils are good almost indefinitely if stored in closed, glass bottles away from heat and light. However, a few oils such as citrus and conifer oils have a shorter shelf life due to certain constituents that react to oxygen in a way that degrades the oil over time. These oils are best used within a year of opening.
Does Aura Cacia distill its own essential oils?
They have distilled oils for research purposes, but it isn't practical for us to distill for production—they couldn't consistently meet either the quantity or the quality requirements for Aura Cacia oils if they attempted to distill the oils themselves. Most essential oils are best when distilled on or near the farms where the plants are grown.
Some companies claim their oils are distilled in better ways. Is there any truth to this?
Essential oils can vary in quality depending on how well they were distilled, but this is one of many factors in oil quality. Others—such as where and how the plants were grown, seasonal variation in weather, soil differences, and harvest times and handling—can also affect the quality of an essential oil. The most effective way to monitor all these complex factors is to analyze the end product rigorously with a wide variety of tests to determine its quality. Relying on any single factor, such as distillation, cannot guarantee quality.
What is a therapeutic grade oil?
There is no such grading system for essential oils. This term is sometimes used by companies as a marketing term to try and differentiate aromatherapy oils from essential oils used in flavoring and food. Aromatherapy oils should be pure, complete and unadulterated — whereas oils used for other purposes may be enhanced, redistilled or in others ways manipulated to make them more suitable for their intended purpose. But because the term isn't based on established standards or regulation, it can be—and often is—used without regard to the quality of the oil.
What is a food grade oil?
Essential oils, when used in food may be required by the manufacturer to conform to the Food Chemical Codex (FCC), thus making them “food grade”. Essential oils in compliance with these standards can be the same essential oils used in aromatherapy as long as they are pure, unadulterated and complete oils. If they have been manipulated in any way to meet an FCC standard, then they are no longer suitable for aromatherapy use, even if they meet the technical standards to be considered food grade oils.
How often do you test oils?
They test every preshipment sample of essential oils before making a purchase. Then, after they purchase an essential oil, every shipment is tested to make sure it continues to meet all quality and purity standards.
How effective is testing?
A conscientious testing program conducted by qualified essential oil experts that includes both physical (sensory evaluation, optical rotation, specific gravity, specific gravity) and chemical (gas chromatography) testing can determine whether an essential oil is pure, unadulterated and authentic. To determine the effectiveness of any testing program, one must know what tests are conducted as well as the qualifications of the people who set the testing parameters and specifications, conduct the tests and interpret the results. And of course, to be effective, any testing program must test a representative sample from every shipment of every essential oil.
Their thorough testing program—which includes gas chromatography (GC) testing for every oil—provides an extremely high degree of assurance that their oils are 100% pure and unadulterated. They are completely confident in their quality testing and offer a quality guarantee so their customers will share that confidence.
Is there any difference between an organic oil and a non-organic oil?
Organic oils come from plants that are grown, harvested and distilled in accordance with organic practices. Non-organic essential oils come from plants that may have been grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. In addition, non-sustainable farming practices may have been used – in other words practices that do not protect the soil, water and animal life. Little or no chemical residue from such practices may be present in the essential oil, however the reason why many people prefer to buy organic products is a long-term commitment to the health and sustainability of our planet.
What oils make the most effective insect repellants?
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends only one essential oil as an effective mosquito repellant based on scientific research, lemon eucalyptus.However the EPA also acknowledges citronella as an effective repellent.Others oils have been used traditionally to discourage various insect pests including eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint (ants), cedarwood (moths) and juniper (fleas) and spike lavender (lice).
Why doesn’t Aura Cacia have health benefits on their labels?
Aromatherapy products are regulated by the FDA as cosmetics and must conform to cosmetic labeling regulations.Aura Cacia labels all products in compliance with regulations in order to protect you and your customer.Not all companies comply with the law – that’s why you will often see competing products making claims or statements about the product’s supposed benefits that you won’t see on an Aura Cacia label.
About Aura Cacia
Aura Cacia began in 1982, it has been a leader in aromatherapy sales and quality -- as well as a key source of expert information that has fueled the widespread awareness of aromatherapy that they see today.
A key to Aura Cacia's leadership is sourcing pure, authentic essential oils -- dealing face-to-face with the people growing the plants and extracting the essential oil whenever they can. Frequent trips to places like Europe, the Ukraine, Oregon and Australia to visit suppliers and processors illustrate their commitment to finding the best sources for their oils.
They also test every oil they receive to make sure it meets their high standards. Their industry-leading testing program -- which now includes gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) -- allows us to guarantee that they are providing you with the highest quality essential oils available. Whenever possible, they offer oils that are certified organic as well.
Aura Cacia makes aromatherapy accessible with innovative ready-to-use products that let even beginners realize the full benefits of their 100% pure essential oils in a variety of ways that can easily be a part of any lifestyle.
Aura Cacia cares about aromatherapy and the people who use it.
Aura Cacia Philosophy
At Aura Cacia, their goal is to make aromatherapy easy! They offer an extensive selection of high quality essential oils and aromatherapy products for all ages and spaces.
They accomplish this with:
Source to the Shelf Strategy. Their own ethical and sustainable sourcing program, Well Earth, in addition to their in-house sophisticated testing capabilities, allow us to guarantee the purity of their essential oils. Only pure essential oils deliver true aromatherapy benefits, and they refuse to carry anything less.
A pure-as-can-be ingredient standard. They use the most natural and organic ingredients available and avoid 100% synthetic-derived ingredients when possible. They strive to deliver the best aromatherapy experience possible to their customers.
Full ingredient disclosure. Every ingredient used in each Aura Cacia products--down to the individual essential oils--is listed in order of its quantity in the ingredients. You will never see vague terms such as "botanical fragrance" in their ingredient lists. They want their customers to know exactly what they are getting when they purchase their products. View an Aura Cacia label.
Environment-friendly policies. They keep the environment top-of-mind when selecting ingredients and packaging materials for their products. They strive to use recyclable packaging, minimize excess packaging, and utilize post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials when possible.
Animal-friendly policies. Aura Cacia products are not tested on animals and contain no animal by-products with the exception of beeswax.
Aura Cacia History
Aura Cacia was founded in 1982 in Weaverville, California. The founders realized the power of essential oils and began spreading the word about aromatherapy. The more people learned, the more they demanded essential oils and other natural aromatherapy products -- a process that is continues today.
When Frontier Natural Products Co-op purchased the company in 1993, Aura Cacia was well-established as the market leader in aromatherapy. Frontier had been selling essential oils in response to member requests since 1978 and already had expert quality testing and sourcing capabilities in place. The combination of established quality expertise and the market leadership of the Aura Cacia brand melded into a popular, premium-quality aromatherapy line.
Aura Cacia continues as the quality leader in aromatherapy today via their Source to the Shelf Strategy. Their ethical and sustainable sourcing program, Well Earth, and their in-house sophisticated testing capabilities, allow us to guarantee the purity of their essential oils. In the face of increasing adulteration and quality exaggeration in the marketplace, this is peace of mind for their customers.
Well Earth Sustainable Sourcing Program
At Aura Cacia, they take sustainability very seriously. Through their Well Earth sustainable sourcing program, they strive to develop new ethical-sourcing partnerships and ensure the raw materials and packaging components they buy are provide in a sustainable manner.
What is Well Earth?
A proactive program to find and develop ethical sources of high quality products.
What are the components of Well Earth?
- Worker Safety and Fair Treatment
- Sustainable Growing Practices
- Environmental Stewardship
- Community Involvement
- Essential Oil Safety & Quality
- Internal Inspection of all facilities in country