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  • Life’s Better With Cocoa Oil (Yes, Essence of Chocolate!)

    chocolate shaped like pumpkins, ghosts, and bats

    High Holy Candy Day (aka Halloween) is less than 2 weeks away. In honor of this most auspicious day of the year I thought it’d be fun to give you the lowdown on Cocoa absolute.

    A Little About Cocoa

    I don’t want to bore you too much, so I’ll keep this short.

    Cocoa comes from the cacao (Theobroma cacao) tree. The cacao tree is a small evergreen (13-26 feet) that’s native to the deep tropical areas of the Americas. It bears seed pods, also called beans, that are fermented to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and chocolate. Mmmm… chocolate.

    fermented cocoa beans and powder

    A Little About Absolutes

    I’ve talked about absolutes before, but I’m going to do a quick review for you:

    • They are NOT essential oils, because they are not created by either steam distillation or cold pressing of the plant material.
    • They are created by either solvent or fat extraction.
    • Today, most absolutes are created by solvent extraction due the intense time, labor, and cost involved involved in fat extraction, also known as enfleurage.
    • Because a small amount of the solvent remains in the final product, it’s best to avoid applying absolutes to your skin without diluting. Generally, a 0.5 – 1% dilution will be safe.
    • Absolutes are not inferior to essential oils, they’re just different.
    • Most absolutes (e.g. jasmine, cocoa) come from plants, or plant parts, that are not amenable to either steam distillation or cold pressing. For instance, you can cold press a cocoa bean all you want but all you’ll get is powder… no oil.
    • Some plants can be extracted as both an essential OR an absolute (but obvs not at the same time) and sometimes they will have different names depending on which they are. A few examples: Rose (the EO is generally referred to as rose otto), Lavender, orange blossom (the essential oil is called neroli).
    • An absolute usually smells vastly different to an essential oil made from the same plant. For instance, I’ve smelled lavender essential oils from various locations and altitudes and, while they all smell slightly different to one another, they all smell like ‘lavender.’ I just purchased my first lavender absolute and it smells wonderful, but it doesn’t scream “lavender” the way the essential oil does. Heck, it doesn’t even say ‘lavender’ in a normal conversational tone.

    Uses For Cocoa Absolute

    It takes you to your happy place. That’s it. Just enjoy the smell.

    Some Fabulous Cocoa Blends

    Since it’s almost halloween, I’m going to focus on “seasonal” blends, but cocoa blends well with anything that blends well with chocolate, like: beeswax absolute, cognac essential oil, coffee CO2 (CO2 extracts are often sold by the same people who sell essential oils and absolutes).

    Try one (or more) of these diffuser recipes this halloween:

    Almond Joy

    1/8  tsp almond extract

    6-7 drops cocoa absolute

    Mounds Bar

    1/8 tsp coconut oil

    3 drops cocoa absolute

    Chocolate Peeps

    3 drops cocoa absolute

    3 drops vanilla absolute

    Peppermint Patty

    3 drops cocoa absolute

    6 drops peppermint essential oil

    Cocoa and Chocolate Trivia

    Did you know:

    • White chocolate isn’t really chocolate (but deep down, your knew this, right?) because it doesn’t contain any chocolate solids. It gets its name from the cocoa butter that’s in it.
    • Cocoa, also called cacao, beans aren’t really beans; they’re seeds from the Theobroma cacao tree.
    • In order to make chocolate, the cacao beans must be fully fermented. So if you’re into fermented foods, you can add dark chocolate to your list of “good” foods. Just sayin’ 🙂
    • There’s little agreement on when or whether to use the word cacao vs cocoa to refer to the beans. However, there are two ways it’s generally used.
      • Some experts use the word cacao to refer to the raw bean, prior to the fermentation process that’s necessary to turn it into chocolate, and cocoa to referr to the bean after fermentation.
      • Other experts use the word cacao to apply to the bean (in any state), and use the term cocoa once it’s in powdered form.