British ColonisationHaving been used for virtually thousands of years by our ancestors, essential oils are deeply embedded in cultural life around the world. They are veritable beauty and health care remedies, added to creams, ointments and salves, but also to perfumes, deodorants and insect repellents. Essential oils do not only smell good, but actually influence our physical as well as emotional wellbeing. They can have antidepressant, antibacterial, stimulating, detoxifying, uplifting and relaxing properties, or simply be calming, soothing, purifying or nourishing for the skin.

Essential oils are much more volatile and aromatic than vegetable oils. Most of them are not oily or thick in texture, but are very liquid, almost like water; however they are not soluble in water but only in alcohol or in vegetable oils. According to the texture of the plant parts used, extraction methods vary from vapour-distillation, extraction, maceration, enfleurage and cold pressing. In Mauritius, distillation is used as the only method to obtain essential oils. Famous tropical oils include Lemongrass, Frangipani, Ylang Ylang, Vetivert and Camphor; some of which are blended and mixed into the NaturEssence Sprays to enhance the effects of the flower elixirs.

The natural colour of most essential oils is a clear or golden tan, with exceptions such as deep blue chamomile or red St John’s Wort. In tropical climates like Mauritius, the sun shines on the plants more intensely. As a result, the oil is not only of a superior fragrance, but also of a more intense colour. Bright golden Lemongrass and yellowish Ylang Ylang are good examples for this.

In order to make sure one buys genuine essential oils, it is best to go and meet those who produce them. At Jardin de Clavet, visitors are invited to take a stroll around the premises and have a look at the plants as well as the still, before meeting at the shop, where they can not only enjoy the scent of the oils, but also buy those they like best. As Clavet specialises in the production of rare oils, you might make exquisite finds such as Japanese Cedar (Sugi), Calamondin (a mix of Kumquat and Tangerine) and Pink Pepper (very invigorating), but also traditional island fragrances such as Lemongrass and Ylang Ylang.

Another still is found at Domaine des Aubineaux in Curepipe, where Camphor from century-old trees and Citronella are distilled and visitors welcome. Essential oils make special souvenirs; bringing tropical vibes into your life long after the holiday is over.

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