How Can Aging Helichrysum and Other Essential Oils Make Them Better?
Why would we want to age an essential oil?
In short, some oils just plain get better with age. And Helichrysum is one of our owners favorite oils. He uses it more than any other - and knows that Helichrysum that's been sitting around for a while smells better than that which has just been distilled.
In fact, many oils traditionally go through some sort of aging process. Even Lavender is held by the distillers until it "airs out" a bit before shipping it off to companies like The Ananda Apothecary.
Oils that are made from resins, wood, or generally have a primary 'bottom' note aroma make for great candidates to "get better" with age. It is well known that Patchouli gets better with age - just storing it away for several years brings out it's treasured musty aroma (and significantly increases its price) through an increase in the amount of a compound called patchouli alcohol. (We've actually aged Helichrysum, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Sacred Frankincense, and Sandalwood - see them all here).
As noted above, from many years of experience, we also knew that Helichrysum essential oil got better the longer it was in stock - the aroma improved significantly over time. So we decided to run an experiment to see if we could make a superior Helichrysum by adding some aging factors - and guess what? It got better, both aromatically, and therapeutically as well!
What makes a "good" Helichrysum?
What people think about when they think of helichrysum specifically are a few key compounds: curcumenes (alpha and gamma), neryl acetate, and italidiones. The curcumenes and italidiones are thought to play a crucial role in the regenerative properties of helichrysum. These compounds along with some monoterpenes (alpha pinene) and sesquiterpenes (italicene) that help with antimicrobial behaviors of the oil.
Below are the results of a GC/MS of the same helichrysum both before and after our organic aging process:
What we discovered, and why we now really like the aged oils: we actually began to grow the italidione and curcumene levels as we age the oil! The neryl acetate drops only slightly (0.5%), but the italidiones increase overall by 1.77% and the gamma curcumene levels increase by 1.28%. This result suggests that we are indeed increasing the levels of the therapeutic components of the oil and we are indeed making a better helichrysum with our proprietary physical aging process.
This process only acts through physical processes. No extract compounds, chemicals, or metals are added to increase reactivity we are just gently aging the oil naturally.
We made some more aged products, which all have incredible aromas and therapeutic properties.
- Cedarwood, Atlas Essential Oil (Organic) - Special Aged. This is the finest cedarwood essential oil we've ever had the pleasure to try, and was appreciated by the most discerning connoisseurs at the Alliance of International Aromatherapists conference this year.
- Frankincense, Sacra (Wildgrown) - Special Aged. The aging process has made this a warm, full bodied oil, particularly worthwhile for Frankincense lovers. Sacra direct from the distiller had always had a little higher note, and this is now more rich in middle notes.
- Patchouli, Dark (Organic) - Special Aged. Wow! Every patchouli lover who's tried this LOVES the oil. They say things like "this is the REAL patchouli you could get in the 70's!". It has a full range of notes, with the deeper tones only found in well-aged patchoulis, at a fraction of the cost!
- Sandalwood, Indian (Wildgrown) - Special Aged. This is a very rare oil, and the aging process gives it significant benefits. We once had someone offer us 20 year old Sandalwood. It wasn't enough for us to carry, but it sure smelled wonderful. The aroma of this oil is fantastic, and the aging process has increased the amount of the potentially-therapeutic alpha-santalol (santalols make up the majority of the constituents of Sandalwood essential oil, and in research have been pointed to as the "potentially-active" therapeutic agent.
These oils are available for a limited time only! When they're gone, they're gone! For the oil connoisseur, they really are a must-try just for their aromas, but for any aromatherapy practitioner, they really deserve a special place in your collection.