Carrier oils are used in quite a number of DIY Personal Care products, ranging from soaps to toners, to oil blends, balms and more. But, what are they? How are they made? What’s the difference between refined and unrefined carrier oils? There’s so many things to learn about carrier oils so here’s a post to help get the journey started!
Carrier oils are also known as “base oil” and “vegetable oil”. They are named as such because they are used to carry essential oils (which have aromatherapeutic and therapeutic benefits) onto the skin. Diluting essential oils is a critical safety practice, especially when using them topically. Nevertheless, this does not mean that carrier oils cannot be used on their own and that they are without their own benefits.
Carrier oils are made via processes like cold pressing, expeller pressed and infusion. The most common process is cold pressing where the oil is extracted via the crushing of seeds or fruits without the usage of heat and chemical treatments. According to Spoon University, “[c]old pressing is simple and does not require much energy. In fact, when oils are produced under lower temperatures (below 122˚F), they retain far more antioxidants and nutrients than they would at higher temperatures”.
Expeller pressed, on the other hand, is a process where an expeller press (also known as a “screw press”) is used to press seeds and nuts through a cavity. Intense friction and continuous pressure is applied to extract the oil. Though, there is no heat added to this process, the application of friction creates heat (around 140-210˚ F).
Infused Oils (also known as “macerated oils”) are carrier oils that has been permeated with one or more herbs either through a cold infusion like we did in this tutorial, or a hot infusion which takes less time. A pro to infused oils would be that it contains the properties of both the carrier oil and the herbs infused into the aforementioned carrier oil.
Unrefined carrier oils are those that have more pronounced colors and fragrances than refined oils. They are only lightly filtered to remove large particles, thus some may appear cloudy or have visible sediments after sitting. This doesn’t compromise quality, though it should be noted that unrefined oils have a shorter storage life compared to refined oils.
Carrier oils can be refined naturally or with the use of temperature treatments, solvent treatments (deodorization), and/or bleaching (fading colour or further removal of scent). In natural refining processes, the carrier oils are more thoroughly filtered and strained than unrefined carrier oils. This is usually done with some additional heat but without the use of chemicals.
When it comes to DIY Personal Care, refined oils are brilliant for formulations that require more stability (ie: skincare) as they have a longer shelf life and may also be more heat-stable. Unrefined carrier oils, on the other hand, are wonderful for soaps and formulations meant for quick-usage.
Carrier oils can be divided into “dry” or “wet” oils. Here, these terms describe the way the carrier oil acts when they come in contact with your skin.
A “wet” oil is any oil that leaves a residue on your skin. The oil lingers on your skin for a longer period and are slow to be absorbed. Common wet oils include sweet almond oil, coconut oil, and castor oil.
In DIY Personal Care (especially soap making and balm making), it’s important to know which carrier oils are “soft” and which carrier oils are “hard” as they contribute to the hardness of the soaps and balms. To put it simply, hard oils are oils that are solid or semi-solid at room temperature (which in this case, would be around 20–22°C as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) whereas soft oils are liquid at room temperature.
We hope this post helps ❤️️
You can find our complete range of carrier oils here as well.
Learn more about carrier oils and some recipes that you can use them in here!
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- Spoon University. n.d. Expeller Pressed Vs Cold Pressed: Which Type Of Oil You Should Choose. [online] Available at: <https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/expeller-pressed-vs-cold-pressed> [Accessed 14 August 2020].
- 2006. The American Heritage Dictionary Of The English Language. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- School of Natural Skincare. n.d. Unrefined Vs Refined Carrier Oils: Which Is Best? | School Of Natural Skincare. [online] Available at: <https://www.schoolofnaturalskincare.com/unrefined-vs-refined-carrier-oils-which-is-best/> [Accessed 14 August 2020].
- Medicalnewstoday.com. n.d. What Is A Carrier Oil? Best Oils And Uses. [online] Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321639#best-carrier-oils> [Accessed 14 August 2020].