1.1 Definition and Introduction
Essential oils are mixtures extracted from so-called aromatic plants in the form of oily and liquid substances, but whose molecular composition is different from that of vegetable oils. Essential oils are generally extracted by hydrodistillation or cold pressing; both processes are long and require expertise.
There are many plants and flowers used to produce essential oils, including lavender, rosewood, eucalyptus, ylang-ylang, chamomile, tea tree, geranium, citrus, mint and patchouli.
It should be noted that the essential oil content of plants is generally very low, ranging from 0.01% (e.g. rose petals) to 1%. Thus, to obtain one kilo of pure essential oil, between 4 and 7 tons of rose petals, or 115 to 200 kg of lavender, or 1 ton of orange blossom must be distilled.
The main outlets for the manufacturing of essential oils in the world are perfumes, cosmetics, aromatherapy, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals. The world market for essential oils is growing rapidly, fueled in particular by consumption in Western markets through services such as aromatherapy and the manufacture of fashionable cosmetics.
The world market for essential oils has grown steadily in recent years. The trend towards increased health and beauty spending, combined with a higher standard of living among consumers, are the main factors driving the market. In addition, the increase in cases of depression and anxiety disorders among consumers is considered to be the driving force behind the growing demand for essential oils in the aromatherapy industry. The Portuguese market is expected to grow by more than 27% by the end of 2023.
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