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Soap Making Forum > The Soap Making & Craft Forum > Aromatherapy, Herbs and Essential Oils > Herbal & aromatherapy terminology reference guide
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:48 PM   #1
AlchemyandAshes
 
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Default Herbal & aromatherapy terminology reference guide

HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE
And How These Terms Apply To the Soap Making World…


I have seen a lot of various, and incorrect, usage of terminology pertaining to the use of herbs and essential oils in soap making. I thought I’d write some brief descriptions as a reference guide for those not familiar with this terminology, and hopefully shed a little light on the correct terms to avoid confusion. The following definitions and references pertain solely to the use of Aromatherapy and Herbs in soap and body product making and not their medicinal counterparts.

AROMATHERAPY
Definition: The use of essential oils and natural aromatic botanicals for psychological and physical well-being. †

ESSENTIAL OIL
Definition: any of a class of volatile oils obtained from plants, possessing the odor and other characteristic properties of the plant, used chiefly in the manufacture of perfumes, flavors, and pharmaceuticals. †

Essential Oils are not just fragrance. They are highly concentrated essences of the plant or matter from which they are obtained, containing any beneficial or detrimental constituents of that plant or matter.

Essential Oils are obtained by various extraction methods, most common being Distillation, Solvent, and Expression. The method used is determined by the botanical that is being used in the extraction. As I’ve seen in various posts, you cannot “make” an essential oil by soaking an herb in a fixed oil. This is called an Infusion (see below).
An Absolute is the most concentrated form of fragrance obtained when distilling a Concrete. Some common Absolutes are Vanilla and Jasmine. A Concrete is made from the solution containing both solvent and dissolvable plant material that is filtered and the filterate subjected to low pressure distillation to recover the solvent for further use. The remaining waxy mass is what is called the concrete. A Floral Wax is a by-product of the production of Absolutes and are solid and aromatic waxes. Natural Resins are exudations from trees. Prepared resins are oleoresins from which the essential oil has been removed. An Oleoresin is the natural resinous exudation from plants or aromatic liquid preparations extracted from botanical material. Some soapers are familiar with Rosemary Oleoresin, an antioxidant that is used as a rancidity inhibitor in fixed oils. I have seen references to “Essence Oils”, and while usually meaning “Essential Oils”, I have seen this term used to describe Perfume Oils, Hydrosols, Essential Oil Blends, Fragrance Oils, and the like. If you are interested in purchasing an ”Essence Oil” for soap making, make sure you ask the manufacturer or retailer which of the above it is.

Some Essential Oils that should be never be used in any product that comes in contact with the skin (and most, should never be used at all) are: Bitter Almond, Boldo Leaf, Calamus, Yellow Camphor, Horseradish, Jaborandi Leaf, Mugwort, Mustard, Pennyroyal, Rue, Sassafras, Savin, Southernwood, Tansy, Thuja, Wintergreen, Wormseed, and Wormwood. (The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood, 1991)

If you choose to use Essential Oils in your soap making or body products, please educate yourself on their properties, contraindications, and proper usage rates. There are plenty of reliable sources – some authors to look for are Robert Tisserand, Kurt Schnaubelt, Valerie Ann Worwood, and Julie Lawless. You can also check out these websites:
http://www.aromaweb.com
http://www.essentialoiluniversity.com
http://www.roberttisserand.com

CARRIER OIL (also known as Vegetable Oils, Base Oils or Fixed Oils)
Definition: Fatty acids derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.
Carrier Oils are used to dilute essential oils, CO2s and absolutes before applying to the skin. They are also the “base oils” we use to make soap, such as Olive, Palm, and Coconut to name a few.

HYDROSOL (also known as Flower Waters)
Definition: the aromatic water that remains after producing an essential oil via steam or water distillation.
Hydrosols are less potent than Essential Oils, but do contain some of the same properties as Essential Oils. They are frequently used in water based formulas, like lotion.


FRAGRANCE OIL (also known as Perfume Oils, Aromatic Oils, Potpourri Oils)
Definition: synthetically reproduced aroma compounds that are diluted with a carrier like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil.
Many people use “Essential Oils” and “Fragrance Oils” interchangeably. This is incorrect. Though some Fragrance Oils are blended with Essential Oils, or are derivatives of Essential Oils, they are not one and the same.


INFUSION
Definition: An oil produced by steeping the macerated botanical material in oil until the oil has taken on some of the material's properties. A liquid extract, as tea, prepared by steeping or soaking.
In soap making, we are usually infusing base oils with herbs to (hopefully) receive some skin benefit from that plants properties. Infused oils are also used in salves and lotion, cream, and serum making. You will usually not obtain any scent in an infused oil, with the exception of some of the more resinous herbs, like Rosemary for example.


DECOCTION
Definition: A herbal preparation made by boiling the material and reducing it to a concentration.
A decoction could be used in CP soap making at trace (or after cook in the HP method), provided you subtract the amount of your decoction from your liquid used for your lye solution. A decoction could also be used in any water based formula, such as lotion.

TEA
Definition: any of various infusions prepared from the leaves, flowers, etc., of other plants, and used as beverages or medicines. †
A tea is basically a water infusion, and weaker than a decoction. Many soapers use tea as their liquid in their lye solution, or as the water base for their lotions or creams.

MACERATION
Definition: to soften or separate or be softened or separated as a result of soaking.†
Herbs and botanicals can be “macerated” to use in decoctions and infusions. This is usually a method used with barks and roots.

EXTRACT
Definition: a solution or preparation containing the active principles of a drug, plant juice, or the like; concentrated solution. †
Many extracts are produced using alcohol as the extraction fluid, like Vanilla Extract used for cooking, while some have a water base. It is best to find how the extract is produced so you can properly use it in your formula.

TINCTURE
Definition: a solution of alcohol or of alcohol and water, containing animal, vegetable, or chemical drugs. †
I only add the term “Tincture” as it applies to herbal preparations, though there is really no use for them in soap making due to the alcohol content. I have seen references to tinctures as fragrance, and wanted to make that distinction.

† denotes http://www.dictionary.com used for definition.
Other references for definitions:
http://www.essentialoil.co.za
http://www.aromaweb.com
http://www.naturesgift.com
http://www.camdengrey.com

~Shawnee Kircher
Alchemy & Ashes Soaps, Salves, and Such


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Old 11-21-2012, 09:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Thanks for taking the time to post this! It is very handy to have all of these terms defined in one place.


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Old 11-21-2012, 11:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Excellent post - thank you Shawnee!
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:12 AM   #4
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Thank you for the post. I'm deleting this same post in the other sections as I think it has been covered here and is in the right section for everyone to read . We don't really need it posted 5 times.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:13 AM   #5
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Default HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Great handy reference! Thank you, Shawnee!
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Relle9: I was reposting per Hazel's directions...I can forward you the PMs if needed.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:42 AM   #7
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Quote:
Originally Posted by Relle9
Thank you for the post. I'm deleting this same post in the other sections as I think it has been covered here and is in the right section for everyone to read . We don't really need it posted 5 times.
Yep! I asked her to do it so people who only browse the CP section or only browse the MP section could see it. No problem. I'll just pester Shawnee to repost.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:15 AM   #8
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

Ok, no probs .
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:57 PM   #9
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My bad. I forgot to mention to Relle that these posts were going to be stickies.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: HERBAL & AROMATHERAPY TERMINOLOGY REFERENCE GUIDE

very nice post


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