Saturday, August 13, 2016

CO2's, part deux (yes, there's more)

During our Mondays with Marge on Facebook last Monday evening, questions about CO2s arose after an in-depth discussion on the various methods of extraction (production).  Marge thought it would be helpful to share more since Tina and several others were seeking further information. 

Marge: Some more about CO2s in general:  if it helps, let's do a general "overview" of the CO2 extracts. The ones I am familiar with come in two general categories (and a third category) we will call "other" (otherwise known as "neither of the above!")

1. The ones you are most familiar with are the CO2 selects that are similar to (but in many ways better!) than the distilled essential oils you are used to. Let's say Frankincense, Lavender, Chamomile, Clove, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Siberian Fir, Sweet Marjoram. In EVERY case that I have experienced, the CO2 extract is aromatically closer to the original botanical, more alive, more vibrant. Just something that your nose would draw you to. These are, in most cases, listed as "CO2 SELECT," i.e., not every component possible is brought over into the extract, only the aromatic components. (primarily the essential oil, is extracted.)

These can be used as you would use the equivalent essential oil, with the same safety rules that you will find for the essential oil. (i.e., Cinnamon Bark is STILL a strong sensitizer and a known irritant, for example.) The advantage to using the CO2 extracts is that in most cases you CAN use less in a blend and get the equivalent result. I'm not saying you HAVE to use less (unless there are specific safety warnings) but that you can, and that you often will want to. We find that, for example, in a blend calling for Sweet Marjoram essential oil (and other oils, it's a blend); we can use 1/3 as much of the Sweet Marjoram CO2 as we did of the distilled oil, and still have the right 'balance' of ingredients and the desired effect. (for the record, I'm talking about our SleepEase Synergy.) So as a rule of thumb, if you want to experiment with replacing an oil you already blend with, with its CO2 extracted "twin" you might try using 1/2 the amount you had been using and see what you think of the results. (This is where using scent strips helps—in creating a blend.) There is not a hard and fast rule, but there seldom is, in blending. Especially blending for a diffuser, rather than topical use. So you start with 1/2 the CO2 and the "regular amount" of other ingredients, and you see what you think of the results. Sometimes the CO2 will overpower the other ingredients. Oops, half as much CO2 was too much. Simply add a bit more of the other components of your blend until you get it where you want it. And make VERY sure to write down every drop you add! We won't discuss how many stunning blends will never be reproduced because someone doesn't remember how many drops of THAT they added. 

Please note, there are some CO2 extracts of blossoms that are not available as distilled oils, and/or absolutes. Linden Blossom comes to mind, and the rare White Rose, Rosa Alba.
Pomegranate CO2

2. CO2 extracted FIXED/Carrier oils. These are not going to be the oils that you normally would use for a full body massage, like Fractionated Coconut or Almond oil, or Jojoba, but rather CO2 extracted versions of luxury skin care oils. Examples would be Amaranth Seed, Chia Seed, Borage, Evening Primrose, Rose Hip Seed, Pomegranate, Sandalwood Seed, Sea Buckthorn Seed. Now, as far as usage on these goes, I have to say “it varies.” The Chia Seed, Amaranth, Borage, etc. CAN be used "straight up" but we prefer to blend them into a facial serum. I'll use the Evening Primrose and Borage seed as examples. Their cold pressed sisters have traditionally been recommended for use in very low percentages in skincare blends, to add richness, to bring whatever specific qualities they offer to a specific blend. They are, I like to say, "ACTIVE carrier oils." The CO2s are the same. I have a lot of clients who use our Pomegranate CO2 alone or full strength, or Chia Seed alone, but we prefer to use them as part of a skin care blend. SOME are highly colored and for that reason you want to use at a lower percentage, or they will stain your skin (or your pillowcase!) Rose Hip SEED oil is reddish. Rose Hip PULP is deep crimson. Sea Buckthorn Berry/Pulp is thick, vegetal, and orange. THIS you will want to use at about 1 to 3 %, not because it will do harm to use it stronger, but because it will take a while for the stain to fade.  

Whether to use the traditional cold pressed fixed oil or the CO2 extraction is truly a matter of taste. To OUR taste, in most cases the CO2 extraction is more quickly absorbed and has a better "akin feel." Clients and staff members have commented on the CO2s leaving their skin feeling velvety, and not greasy.  Also, in many cases the CO2 extracts have had an anti-oxidant added to them by the original producer, giving them a much longer shelf life than their cold pressed equivalent.  Shall we discuss the time I was asked to bring samples of a wide range of carriers to my CCAP class, for the students to experience them all? All went well until the instructor opened the sample of cold pressed Borage Seed. Now, it was well within its (very short) suggested shelf life, and was not, by any means "rancid"...but it was past its prime, perhaps a bit stale smelling?  I was mortified! When I got back to Nashville we disposed of the remaining Borage Seed and never reordered.  Yes, thank you, as a supplier or as an end user, I would vastly prefer a two year shelf life to a six month one!

I'm not sure if these photos really show the thickness, the texture of these Total extracts.  The Calendula is semisolid and very sticky, the German Chamomile is thick, blackish green, and vegetative.  Diluting into your chosen carrier can be a challenge.
Calendula CO2 Total

German Chamomile CO2
3. OTHER...There are CO2 extracts that are closer to herbal extracts—they don't exist as essential oils (can't be distilled, not volatile), or are "total" extractions that contain other plant components in addition to the volatile oils.  Many are herbal extracts that have either an essential oil or a cold pressed oil either. Many of them can be used to produce the equivalent of an herbal infused oil. Calendula Total can give a result that you will NOT be able to distinguish from an excellent infused oil, Arnica, ditto, Helio-Carrot Root, ditto. Rose Hip PULP doesn't exist in another form, it has a tremendous amount of plant nutrients for skincare, and should be used at about 1 or 2% maximum. We try to give ‘recommended usage rates’ or dilutions for this type of extract.  German Chamomile CO2 Total is thick, green, vegetative. At least three times a month someone will email that we sent them an old, dried up bottle of German Chamomile, it isn't even BLUE any more. We will check, and, sure enough, they ordered the Chamomile CO2 without reading the description. 

So those are, as I understand it, the three ‘categories’ of CO2 extracts that have appropriate uses for aromatherapy healing. A lot of the information that we have on these wonderful extracts comes from the various producers, who love to share the properties of their products.  Much also comes from Mark Webb, of AromaMedix, and from  Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes, author of  Complementary Nursing in End of Life Care, a wonderful book that offers far more information than the title would lead you to believe. I look forward to studying CO2 extracts in depth with Mark in October, in Boulder, and to meeting both Mark and Madeleine in Salt Lake City at the NAHA conference.   I hope it helps!

Tina: Yes, it helps thank you very much and I really do appreciate you taking the time to answer my question 😊

Join us Monday night at 8:00 p.m. CDT for Mondays with Marge live on our Facebook page.  Post aromatherapy related questions underneath the MWM graphic before or during the hour.  Missed previous MWM and want to look back at some of the highlighted topics covered so far?  Simply search the blog for previous posts and conversations.

Marge Clark is the owner and President of Nature’s Gift Inc. ( celebrating twenty-one years as a trusted on-line source for pure, authentic essential oils and aromatherapy accessories.

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