As we delve deeper into essential oils you may find yourself coming across some really weird terminology, some of which really don’t make any sense without a little research. One such term I want to share with you today is what’s known as a “folded essential oil”.
What is a Folded Essential Oil?
So what the heck does it mean when someone refers to a folded essential oil? In essence, these are fractionated essential oils, typically citrus based, that have been re-distilled at low pressure to isolate certain chemical components and then concentrated numerous times to create a stronger smelling essential oil. Often, the essential oil goes through this process 5-10 times which creates an oil that has been “folded” 5-10 times. These oils are often seen labeled as 5X or 10X folded.
Terpenes are one of the chemicals removed during the folding process which is beneficial for companies manufacturing their own products that contain citrus based essential oils. This is because terpenes contribute to a shorter shelf life so it’s more desirable for commercial purposes to remove them from the final product. However, for the therapeutic use of essential oils, removing or altering any of the natural components of an oil devalues its healing nature. I personally do not use folded essential oils for this reason.
So what’s the point of folding citrus bases essential oils aside from shelf life issues?
If you read my last article on What You Need to Know About Phototoxic Essential Oils, then you know that cold pressed citrus based EOs contain chemicals known as furocoumarins. These are chemicals that react when exposed to UV light such as sunlight, tanning beds, etc., and can severely burn the skin.
Folding an essential oil removes these photosensitive chemicals making citrus based EOs like sweet orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and bergamot less phototoxic.
Another reason to fold citrus EOs is to enhance and embolden their aroma. Folding can remove unwanted undertones and overtones and bitter qualities, producing an oil with a clear, clean, fresh scent that is sought after in commercial manufacturing.
Folded Vanilla Essential Oil
Okay, so there is no such thing as vanilla “essential” oil but it’s one of the other oils that is often folded to enhance its smell. You can get vanilla absolute or a vanilla CO2 extracted oil that are often used in aromatherapy. These oils have been folded only once because folding vanilla more than once damages its aroma and flavor.
How to Determine if You Have a Folded Essential Oil
Below are some key points on how to know if an EO is folded before buying.
• Availability– If an EO is available for a plant that does not produce “essential” oil it may be folded
• Fragrance– This isn’t a defining factor but if you’re smelling a citrus EO and it smells REALLY potent, it may be folded
• Price– Folded essential oils are typically much cheaper than regular essential oils
• Use– if the oil is unsuitable for therapeutic use it may be folded
Have you ever used folded essential oils?
The pictures I chose for this blog post do not in any way indicate that Young Living produces folded essential oils. I just want to put that out there! I’m using it because lemon is among the citrus EOs that can be folded.
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Thank you for the info! Very helpful.