A range of oils and extracts is often used to make essential oils, but many are also used as a substitute for other traditional oils.
Now, researchers at the University of Alberta are investigating how to combine essential oils from two different species, and find a way to use them together in a way that does not damage the plant.
The research, published in the Journal of Organic Chemistry, is the first to combine the essential oils of rosemary and a variety of other plants.
It also gives a more detailed view of how essential oils are made.
“The idea is to look at how essential oil compounds are made in nature,” says lead researcher Paul C. Kramm, an assistant professor of chemistry and a professor of plant sciences at the university.
“Essential oils are molecules that have no known chemical structure, but which are able to bond to each other to form the essential oil.”
Essential oils are usually made by distilling the plant’s essential oils with water or alcohol.
Krumm and his colleagues wanted to learn more about how essential water and alcohol molecules work to make plants’ essential oils.
They started by looking at the structure of the plant essential oils themselves.
When essential oils react with water molecules, they form molecules that can bind to water molecules.
This binding creates the structure that makes the essential water molecules stick to eachother.
The team also looked at the structures of the essential alcohol molecules.
When they added essential alcohol to the water molecules of plants that contain rosemary (or other plant essential oil), they created the compounds that bind with the water.
They found that these essential alcohols could also form molecules with water-binding properties.
The researchers found that they could use this process to combine rosemary essential oil and other plant plant essential ingredients with water to create a new class of essential oils known as water-soluble essential oils (SWEOs).
In this case, they created a class of water-saturated essential oils called essential water-containing essential oils or SWEOs.
The group is currently exploring whether this process can also be used to combine other plant-based essential oils in a similar way.
The next step is to further investigate how essential alcohol and water-derived essential oils interact with each other and what the chemical properties are of these molecules.
Kromm hopes that this work will help researchers better understand how essential substances are made and how to extract them from the plant, and hopefully make the essential elements from plant essential compounds more accessible to the world.
“We are trying to answer questions that are important to us in our research,” he says.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.