EDUCATION

GRADES OF OILS

While searching for essential oils on the internet you may come across some companies claiming to be approved by the ISO or to comply with guidelines established by AFNOR or to be GRAS approved and even companies  to have Certified Pure therapeutic grade /  FDA approved.  What does this mean and how does Spark Naturals fit in or what is our standard. 

Here are the terms:

ISO (international organization for Standardization. An organization that publishes international standards for everything from food safety, medical devices, social responsibility, risk management. Guidelines not laws. 

AFNOR  french national organization for standardization (similar to ISO) 

GRAS - FDA term for "Generally Recognized As Safe"

FDA Approved - FDA does not "approve" health care facilities, laboratories, or manufacturers. FDA does inspect product manufacturers to verify that they comply with good manufacturing practices. FDA approves drugs and pharmaceutical items. Essential oils usually fall underneath and are marketed as "supplements"

 Supplements : Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors are not required to obtain approval from FDA before marketing dietary supplements. Before a firm markets a dietary supplement, the firm is responsible for ensuring that the products it manufactures or distributes are safe. Any claims made about the products are not false or misleading, the products comply with federal food, drug and cosmetic act and fda regulations in all other respects. 

 Therapeutic Grade :  There is no governing body that regulates essential oils or supplements. Companies have trademarked terms such as "Certified Pure" & "Therapeutic Grade" to created a standard which they own and no one else can have to create a perceived value for their products. Therapeutic grade is  a loose term and the only real way to judge a quality oil is through chemistry and science. 
 
SPARK NATURALS:  We at Spark make a promise.  We sell Quality! We don't compromise or take a crop when we know it is not to our standards.  We trust our experience and we trust or suppliers & distilleries. We are in this for the long haul, we stand for our customers and we stand by our products. We sell 100% pure essential oils and natural products. If it has a carrier oil, we will tell you. If you don't like it send it back for a refund. We want to be your go to... we want to have your trust!

 

HISTORY OF OILS

Essential Oils are the naturally occurring volatile oils obtained by steam distillation or cold pressing (expression), having the characteristic aroma of the plant part from which it was derived. These 100% pure oils are “neat”, meaning they have not been processed, diluted or manipulated in any way with solvents or other additives. Although a particular species of plant, harvested and distilled for its essential oil during a particular growing season in a specific region, may produce a fragrance differing from the same species grown in a different region, but many of the main chemical markers and physical specifications may be very similar.

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.

EXTRACTION

Naturals citrus fruit essential oils are 100% cold pressed. Our other essential oils are typically 100% steam distilled. On the right is a rough diagram of how part of this process works.

Other extraction processes include:

  • Enfleurage
  • Expressed Oils.
  • Steam Distillation.
  • Solvent Extraction.
  • Fractional Distillation and Percolation.
  • Carbon Dioxide Extraction.
  • Phytonic Process.

Enfleurage: Enfleurage is one of the oldest methods of extracting essential oils and is rarely used these days because of its high cost. It involves placing the flower petals on a layer of glass that is first spread with a thin layer of fat called "chassis". The volatile oil diffuses into the fat, then the fat is collected and the oil is extracted from the fat using alcohol.

Expressed: Expressed or Cold pressing of Essential oils is done without any solvents or heat of any kind. Most citrus oils are done this way as the diagram above shows. 

Distillation: Steam distillation uses hot steam to release the aromatic molecules from the plant by opening the areas where oils are kept in the plant material. the oils evaporate into the steam. The steam is a controlled temperature to allow the oil to escape without burning the plant. The steam then passes through a cooling system that forms a liquid where the oil and water are then separated. 

Solvent Extraction: solvent extraction is used for botanicals that typically have a very low yield of essential oil. Maceration, enfleurage & hypercritical CO2 are forms of solvent extraction.

Fractional Distillation and Percolation: Fractional distillation separates component parts or chemical compounds by their boiling points by heating them to a temperature at which one of the compounds will vaporize. Usually the parts have boiling points that differ by less than 25 deg. C. 

Carbon Dioxide Extraction: 

Supercritical carbon dioxide is used as the extraction solvent for creation of essential oils and other herbal distillates. Its main advantages over solvents such as Hexane and acetone in this process are that it is non-toxic and non-flammable. Furthermore, separation of the reaction components from the starting material is much simpler than with traditional organic solvents. The CO2 can evaporate into the air or be recycled by condensation into a cold recovery vessel. Its advantage over steam distillation s that it operates at a lower temperature, which can separate the plant waxes from the oils. (wikipedia)

Carbon Dioxide extraction is also how they extract caffeine from coffee beans.  sCO2 is forced through the green coffee beans which are then sprayed with water at high pressure to remove the caffeine.

Phytonic Process: The Phytonic process is a one of the newest methods of extracting essential oils using non-CFCs (non-chlorofluorocarbons). It is also called Florasol Extraction and the oils are referred to as phytols.

GLOBAL SOURCING

Sourcing: At Spark, we source our oils and products from all over the world! Below is a map highlighted with the regions we source from. Each botanical/plant is sourced from the best region on earth for that specific species to flourish and grow. We are constantly reviewing crop calendars, GC/MS testing, and weather patterns that may effect a crop to ensure the best oils and products for you - our customer. 

Does Spark own its own farms? 

Spark Naturals does not own their own farms. The reason for this, is so that we retain the ability to reject a crop if it does not meet the standard of quality that we demand. Many times when companies own farms, they have to commit to the crop regardless of the outcome. We choose not to go this route, and receive our oils directly from the distillers after thorough testing has been done to ensure quality is never compromised.