Eco Living: Vanilla!

My newest eco living article on anb mall has been up for a while! Last month’s article was on vanilla. I have written an article on how to make vanilla extract, vanilla glycerite (a nice extract made with glycerine, perfect for those who don’t want an alcohol based extract) and vanilla infused oil. Great for baking and skin care! The flavor and scent of home made vanilla extract, glycerite, and oil are outstanding: much better than store brought. Best of all: no unwanted additives!

Vanilla is one of my favorite scents to use in skin care. Many companies use synthetic vanilla because of the expense of most vanilla products. There are many vanilla products that are used in skin care. For water based products, you may want to use the extract or glycerite. The infused oil can be used in any product containing oil.

Many people claim to sell or use ‘vanilla essential oil’, but don’t be mislead. Vanilla essential oil (so the pure substance, extracted by steam distillation) does not exist, since the distillation process does not yield an essential oil. So if someone claims they are using a steam distilled vanilla essential oil, they are (at best case) a little confused and are really using a different vanilla product, or (at worse case, sadly more often true) they are really using vanilla fragrance oil, which is a synthetic fragrance.

However there are vanilla absolutes (traditional and also organic/non-hexane), vanilla co2 extracts (various vanillin content, available as a co2 total and co2 select), and vanilla oleoresins (various concentrations, I’ve used 5x and 10x folded ones) available. All of these contain essential oil in them (they are not steam distilled but extracted by other methods), but also contain other natural chemical components, and each chemical component is at different concentrations (so these different substances share some similar properties and some different ones too). They all smell strongly of vanilla but the scent of each is different. The absolutes (which many people mistaken call an essential oil) and co2 extracts are very expensive (usually well over $100 an ounce wholesale/bulk for high quality, authentic ones). The oleoresin is more moderately priced and more affordable, though it is water soluble.

I use vanilla infused oil made with real vanilla beans in some Earth Alkemie products like Paradise perfume. It is expensive because (as noted in my eco living article) I use way more organic vanilla beans than what is typically in many vanilla products, for a super strong scent. Plus I use organic beans too, which is even more expensive. Pricey but well worth the effort and cost! I also use other vanilla ingredients like the oleoresin in Cinderella Mask, Morning Mask, Chocolate Truffle Buttercreme, Heaven Herbal Cleanser, Vanille Lavande Buttercreme, and Chocolate Dreams. Many of these products will be available when I reopen, though some will have minor reformulations (basically to remove the gluten containing ingredients, since I no longer eat it or use gluten in my skin care).

I love the oleoresin, and though I plan to keep on using it for some of the products, I am thinking of switching to the co2 extract in a couple of the products (because of the luscious, very intense vanilla scent, and since vanilla oleoresin is technically water soluble though I’ve made it work in oil based formulations ;P). The only draw back is that co2 extract is anywhere from 4 to 5 times the price of the oleoresin, but the couple co2 extracts I’ve used are a much more potent and stronger vanilla scent.

For more vanilla notes (on different species, tips on storage of vanilla beans, and vanilla powder, check out my eco blog)!

Stay tuned, I will be posting more links to eco living articles (I missed posting a few) very soon!

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Li is a long time environmentalist and the owner of Earth Alkemie, an all natural skin care and mineral makeup company.