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The Difference between Essential Oils and Terpenes

Essential Oils vs. Terpenes - Differences and uses

What comes to mind when you think "essential oils"?

Take ten seconds. I'll wait.

What'd you come up with?

Maybe "products"? “Different plants"? "Medicinal effects"?

Whoa, there.

You can't think about the medicinal value of essential oils without also considering their terpene profiles. That's because the oils you're buying get their healing qualities in large part from their terpene content.

In this post, you'll learn all you need to know about essential oils vs terpenes, including what this difference means for your health and your brand.

Check it out.

Essential Oils vs. Terpenes: The Simple Version

Flowers & Terpenes

We know you've got meetings and emails and Netflix reruns to binge (we're guessing Breaking Bad if you're reading this).

Here's the TL DR version geared toward you visual readers:

Imagine an organic soup broth. Don't go make soup to cure your munchies. You'll do it at the end.

Now, you can break the broth into individual ingredients. These individual ingredients give the soup its aroma, flavor, and the potential effect on the human body. But too much or too little of a necessary component, like black pepper, salt, etc., can really spoil the smell and taste.

In this analogy, the broth is the essential oil. The "individual ingredients" are the individual terpenes.

The conclusion:

Terpenes are the main organic compound (ingredient) that give essential oils (the soups) their aromas, flavors, and medicinal benefits (1). Different terpenes yield different aromas, flavors, and benefits.

How can you use this juicy information?

Use individual terpene isolates to control the aromas, flavors, and medicinal effects of your products, like essential oils, creams, or food. In other words: make your own soup. (Ok-now go eat.)

Keep reading for some of the science behind it.

The Truth About Essential Oils

Pure Terpenes

Essential oils are the aromatic (and arguably medicinal) liquids obtained through the processing of certain aromatic plants. They are often named for the botanical from which they came. For example, we derive rose oil through the distillation of roses.

While essential oils aren’t directly necessary to sustain human life, we refer to them as "essential" because they're considered to represent the pure essence of the smell or flavor of a particular plant species.

The thing is, essential oils aren’t actually responsible for this.

These highly concentrated plant elements do appear in liquid form, but refining processes like steam distillation remove materials like fatty acids, which are major constituents of the fluids we have classified as ‘oils’.

Brands tend to refer to essential oils as ‘pure’ due to the rigorous extraction processes required to obtain them. But they are actually combinations of different chemicals. As PubMed says:

Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Even the oils from varieties of plants within the same species may have chemical compositions different from each other. (2)

You can divide the chemical composition into two main groups, mostly based on the presence of oxygen:

1) Hydrocarbons - A molecule composed entirely of carbon and hydrogen. Subsets include secondary metabolites like terpenes (monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes)

2) Oxygenated Compounds - Including esters, oxides, phenols, aldehydes, ketones, and alcohols

Unlike the combinations of terpenes and other chemicals that comprise essential oils, Abstrax terpenes are 100% pure. There is nothing in our Alpha-pinene, for example, except undiluted Alpha-pinene. Beta-caryophyllene contains pure, unadulterated beta-caryophyllene. Likewise, our blends are combinations of virgin terpenes.

What does this mean for you?

Conclusion: You Need Terpenes, NOT Essential Oils

Understanding Terpenes : Soup Analogy

Using pure terpene isolates and isolate blends allows for much more precision and control than using essential oils or selective breeding of whole plants when formulating products. I mean, imagine trying to guess how much of an ingredient should go in your recipe over and over again.

Instead, you can use precise measurements of the terpenes as flavor or aroma agents, as well as for their medicinal value, instead of guessing.

If you're trying to scale your brand and need a large number of different terpenes, never settle for mystery soup.

Enjoy our award-winning, custom blends, or feel free to formulate your own masterpiece from our quality ingredients.

We'd be happy to help you through any step of the process.


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