Cold pressed oils and essential oils are two completely different products. Their uses are also extremely different. Cold pressed oils are fatty oils extracted from seeds, nuts or fatty fruits such as olives (scientifically, olives are a fruit). These oils are usually used in cooking. Essential oils are highly concentrated, intensely fragrant and extracted from aromatic plants such as lavender. They are only rarely used in cooking; the are more often used in perfume or therapeutic products.
Cold pressed oils are made by compressing seeds, nuts or fruit that have a high oil content. The oil is literally squeezed out of the plant products. Historically, stone wheels were used to press out the oil. Modern oil extraction wheels are usually made out of stainless steel. The plant material is ground to a paste, then mixed with water. The mixture is stirred mechanically, and then further pressed or put through a centrifuge to separate the solids from the liquids. After this, the oil and water are separated.
An Essential Process
Essential oils are usually made by steam distillation. A large amount of aromatic plant parts such as flower petals or fragrant leaves are mixed with water over heat. The steam created is then condensed by cold pipes or vessels in the still. The resulting liquid contains both the essential oils of the plant material and water, which are then separated. It can take more than an acre of land to grow enough plants to produce one kilogram of essential oil.
How Cold Pressed Oils Are Used
Cold pressed oils primarily have culinary uses. Because they are of higher quality and better flavor than oils produced by heat or chemical extraction, they are frequently used as salad dressings or dipping sauces, but can also be used for frying and other hot cooking methods. A secondary use of cold pressed oils is as a neutral base for other ingredients in cosmetics and therapeutic products such as massage oils. These may contain essential oils as well as cold pressed oils.
How Essential Oils Are Used
Essential oils are used extensively by the perfume industry, in aromatherapy products, toiletries including shampoos and soap, and in cosmetics. They are also used to scent household cleaning products. All essential oils are anti-microbial to some extent and possess medicinal properties particular to the plant they were made from.