“Distillation is a fundamental aspect of alchemy. Alchemy is the foundation of chemistry, and you can think of chemistry basically as alchemy with the magic taken out,” said Eric Scott Bresselsmith.
Bresselsmith is the founder and owner of House of Aromatics, an artisan essential oils distillery based in Boulder, Utah. Bresselsmith uses distillation and chemistry to create natural products for health, hygiene, and cleaning. He will be teaching a free class on the basics of essential oils at Moonflower Market this weekend.
Bresselsmith’s interest in natural healthcare began in the late ‘80s when he was in charge of sheep and cattle on an organic farm.
“I had to learn how to care for them naturopathically,” he said.
That learning process nudged him to rethink his personal choices about food and medicine and to explore a holistic approach.
“Then I applied it to my family,” he said, “and when my son’s mother got pregnant I took it upon myself to take care of her health, and then my child’s health, through natural ways – through good food and good medicine.”
He went on to study with an aromatherapist and eventually dove into distillation in 2008.
“I had no idea; I just kind of went for it, and have been really pleasantly surprised at how forgiving the process is, and how simple it is. And then just how powerful the actual essential oil, the medicine, if you will—just how powerful that really is,” he said.
The class will cover fundamental concepts including how to distinguish artificial flavors and fragrances from naturally derived ones, the importance of high-quality oils, and how to safely use them.
“One drop of essential oil equals a football or a basketball-sized amount of plant material,” Bresselsmith said, warning that oils should never be ingested unless directed by a certified aromatherapist.
The class content will also depend on the interests of the attendees.
“It’s always an open dialogue,” Bresselsmith said. “It’s really guided by the participants.”
The class is not, however, a distilling how-to workshop, which Bresselsmith said would be much more than he could cover in an hour and a half class.
“If anyone is interested in distilling, it would certainly pique their interest,” he added.
Moonflower has been carrying House of Aromatics products for several years. Store manager Derek Whitworth says they’re popular with customers, and they fill a niche overlooked by larger manufacturers of essential oils. He pointed out that more widespread brands typically carry varieties like lavender and eucalyptus, but Bresselsmith harvests and distills plants found in southern Utah, like Douglas fir, White fir, and juniper. Whitworth said Bresselsmith sometimes uses foliage from discarded Christmas trees to create his oils.
“He’s using things that are from this environment,” Whitworth said. “People around here have been using these plants for wellness for a long time.”
Whitworth recalled a shopper belonging to a Native American tribe who told him that snakeweed, one of the varieties of House of Aromatics essential oils, is a traditional healing plant for native cultures in the region.
Bresselsmith’s classes are also quite popular, according to Whitworth, and his events can be packed.
“He’s a really great musician, too,” Whitworth said, adding that Bresselsmith often brings his guitar to his lectures.
Bresselworth has years’ worth of experience and knowledge to share, and each of his classes is a little different, depending on the background of his audience and the questions they ask. But he will make sure to emphasize a few key points.
“The primary thing that I always want people to leave with is knowing the importance of quality essential oil,” Bresselworth said.
Where: Moonflower Market, 39 E. 100 North
When: Sunday, Dec. 8, at 5:30 p.m.
Regional distiller will give primer on essential oils at Moonflower Market
“You can think of chemistry basically as alchemy with the magic taken out.”
– Eric Scott Bresselsmith