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What is a Folded Essential Oil?

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citrus fruit

Citrus Fruit

Robin Macdougall / Getty Images
Definition: A "folded" essential oil is an essential oil that has been further distilled and concentrated from its already highly concentrated form. Citrus oils (like orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime, tangerine, blood-orange, mandarin, and bergamot) are the most commonly found in "folded" versions, and the most common "folds" are 5-fold and 10-fold.

The main benefits of using a folded oil are:

  • They are more concentrated/stronger oils.
  • They are more likely to be "purer" scents - more closely resembling the fruit/plant that they were distilled from. Often they are called "sweeter" "juicier" or "bolder."
  • The terpenes that are removed as part of the distillation process are more volatile and prone to oxidation. Since the terpenes have been removed, the essential oils will last longer, both in your soaps or candles and in the bottle.
  • The terpenes are also what make the essential oils phototoxic (causing sensitivity to the sun). This is not a problem for soap, since it is a "rinse-off" product. But in "leave-on" applications like lotions and lip balms, you don't want to use phototoxic essential oils. Since the terpenes are removed as part of the process, folded citrus oils are o.k. for use in "leave-on" applications like lotions and lip-balms. (Because each distiller and manufacturer may have different processes for distillation, be sure to verify this with your essential oil vendor, though.)
  • Because the distillation is a physical, not a chemical, process, you don't lose any of the "natural" claims on your products.
So, as you can see, the folded essential oils are just stronger, purer, but still natural, versions of the originals, and make good choices for usage in candles, soaps and bath & body products.
Examples:
My essential oil blend uses 5-fold orange essential oil

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