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Hydrolysis in Essential Oils
Jeanne Rose

          Hydrolysis is “a chemical reaction in which water reacts with another substance to form two  or more substances. This involves ionization of  the water molecules as well as splitting of the compound hydrolyzed; example is the conversion of natural fats into fatty acids and glycerin by reaction with water, as  occurs  in one stage of soap manufacture.” ——Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, 7th edition.

            “or Esters may be  hydrolysed to the alcohols and carboxylic acids from which they are  derived. Any significant degree of hydrolysis occurring in an essential oil will inevitably lead to spoilage from  the unpleasant odors of  the carboxylic acids formed.” ——The Chemistry of Essential Oils  by David G. Williams.

            “Using copper somewhere in the distillation process will retard the growth of bacteria and retard the formation of sulphur compounds that result from hydrolysis which will improve odor.” ——The Aromatic News, Winter 03/04 issue, Copper in History and  Distillation.

            In soap making, essential oils need to be added when the mixture has gone from the fat and lye stage to the soap and glycerin stage and when  the mixture  is cool enough but not cool enough to accept the essential oils. This will eliminate negative hydrolysis and the changing of the essential oils  in soap-making.

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©Author's Copyright and Jeanne Rose,

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