Chocolate aromatherapy ingredients, istockphoto, used with permission
Chocolate aromatherapy ingredients, istockphoto, used with permission

Chocolate is one of my other passions in life, albeit not the most healthy of passions!  So, when I decided to add some chocolate aromatherapy products to the Sedona Aromatherapie webstore, I wasn’t particularly happy to find that a lot of chocolate aromatherapy products contained non-natural ingredients.  So began my search for more natural ingredients that I could add to my own chocolate aromatherapy products!  This year, I am planning to add several new chocolate aromatherapy products to the webstore, some of which are still in the experimentation stages (sometimes the best part of making new products!).  To celebrate our forthcoming, improved chocolate range, today’s post concentrates on some of the ingredients I have found, and used, in our chocolate products.  Enjoy!

Where Does Chocolate Come From?

The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao)is the source of chocolate in its raw form.  The cacao tree is a member of the Sterculisceae botanical family. It is a small, tropical tree which is native to Central and South America and the West Indies. Since its “discovery” by Spanish explorers in the late 17th century, the cacao tree has been extensively cultivated in other tropical places such as West Africa, Ceylon and Java too.

However, ancient people, such as the Mayans, knew the medicinal value of the cacao tree long before Spanish explorers took back samples of the plant to Europe. They used the seeds of the cacao tree, cocoa beans, for many health ailments (such as wounds and snake bites), in addition to using the beans as a form of currency for trading.

The cacao tree is the source of three natural ingredients that you can use in making chocolate aromatherapy products.

Cocoa Butter

The use of the cacao tree for making cocoa butter is not a new concept; cocoa butter was first made from the cacao tree in 1695. Cocoa butter is made from cocoa beans extracted from the cacao tree but the seeds go through a complex process of hulling, roasting and hot expressing before cocoa butter is finally extracted in a form that is used for cosmetic purposes.

Cocoa butter is actually a solid fat with a rich, chocolate aroma. Many cosmetic makers then heat up the fat in order to “melt” it together with other butters and oils (such as shea butter or sunflower oil) before a finished product is produced.

Cacao Absolute

I mentioned cacao absolute in Friday’s post but here is the extract again about cacao absolute.  It is also made from the cacao beans of the cacao tree; it has a rich, dark chocolate aroma. However, this produces an absolute, and not an essential oil.  An absolute is extracted in a different way to an essential oil and does not contain 100% “natural” ingredients. Absolutes are made from a concrete by alcohol extraction (a concrete uses a hydrocarbon solvent to extract the oil from the plant).

Although solvents are introduced into the equation, and therefore eliminate some of the therapeutic properties that an essential oil retains, it is more preferable to use an absolute over a synthetically produced fragrance oil for cosmetic making because it does actually contain some plant properties.

Chocolate Essential Oil

It used to be that the majority of essential oils that were extracted from plants were either extracted by distillation or cold expression. However, new methods of extraction are tested all of the time and today you will find several essential oils that are extracted via carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide extraction leaves no trace of the carbon dioxide in the final essential oil that is produced but many of the therapeutic properties of such oils have not yet been tested over a long length of time, unlike distilled essential oils.

In the course of my research into ingredients for chocolate aromatherapy products, I came across a CO2 extracted essential oil of Theobroma cacao; it has a sickly sweet, chocolate aroma (in comparison to the absolute).

I have found that you need to warm up both cacao absolute and the CO2 extracted chocolate essential oil before adding them to your product.  It takes both time, and a number of experiments, to figure out how your chocolate aromatherapy products will smell and act in terms of aroma and consistency.  You will also want to add in some other body butters, vegetable oils and perhaps essential oils to come up with your perfect chocolate aromatherapy creation!  But that’s the fun part, isn’t it? 🙂

References:

  • Price, Len, 1999, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, UK: Riverhead Publishing
  • Author’s own experience and training

If you like to make your own aromatherapy beauty products, but prefer to have some guidance in doing so, why not take a look at the Sedona Aromatherapie Make-Your-Own Products Kits in the webstore?  I will be adding to these kits in the coming year, so check back again!  Or watch out for the Sedona Aromatherapie Foundation Course in Aromatherapy set for a late Spring 2012 release date.

In the meantime, don’t forget that February’s special offer is 10% discount on all of our chocolate aromatherapy products between 2/1/12 and 2/14/12!  Just enter code AROMAROMANCE10 at the webstore checkout.

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