We are all very familiar with Lavender essential oil, but what about Lavender CO2? With the increased availability of CO2 extracts on the market, it is interesting to compare their similarities and differences.  Today we take a look at Lavender.

Common to both

Name: Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)

Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)

Plant Description: An evergreen, woody shrub, grows up to 3 ft tall with grey-green, narrow, linear leaves and blue flower spikes.

History/Folklore: The Romans added Lavender to their bath water to relieve fatigue and stiff joints.  Medieval Europeans considered lavender to be a herb of love.  Lavender was mentioned by Dioscorides, Galen and Pliny.  The Romans traditionally used it in the preparation for childbirth.  The midwife would trace a cross with the dried crushed leaves over hot coals so that the room would fill with its fragrance.  Queen Elizabeth I is said to have used lavender as a perfume and in a tea to treat her frequent migraines.  While Charles VI of France apparently had his seat cushions stuffed with lavender.


Method of Extraction

CO2 :  Carbon dioxide as the `solvent` to extract the viscous liquid from the dried flowering heads.
Essential Oil:  The essential oil is steam distilled from the fresh flowering tops.

Colour and Appearance

CO2:  A fluid and rich yellow oil.  (Kerkhof)
Essential Oil:
Almost colourless to pale yellow.  (Burfield)


CO2:  An intense floral, woody, lavender scent.  (Kerkhof)
Essential Oil:
 Light, sweet, floral.


CO2:  CO2 extract includes waxes and fatty acids and contains between 70 – 80% essential oils, with around 25 – 30% linalool (Alcohol)  30 – 45% linaly acetate,(Ester) lavandulyl acetate, caryophyllene, a-terpineol and others.  (Kerkhof)
Essential Oil:
  Esters mainly linalyl acetate( 45%);  Aldehydes (2%); Ketones (4%); Sesquiterpenes (5%); Lactone, coumarins (0.3%); Oxides (2%); Monoterpenes (4%) ;  Alcohols mainly terpinen-4-ol a-terpineol, linalool, borneol, and lavandulol (36%)


CO2: While some sources suggest avoiding this with low blood pressure, Kerkhof says that she would only avoid using it in an extensive body massage or in the bath.  She feels there is no problem when used on smaller areas. (Kerkhof)
Essential Oil:
Hazards: None known.  Contraindications: None know. (Tisserand and Young)

Indications for Use

CO2:  Used in skin care for similar reasons to the essential oil, irritated, sensitive skin, that is inflamed, burned, itching.  Skin that needs help healing.  Also used for muscle and join pains.  May be helpful in bladder and urinary tract infections.  (Kerkhof)
Essential Oil:  In skin care for abscesses, acne, bruises, burns, eczema, inflammation, insect bites, sunburn and wounds.  The anti-inflammatory properties in lavender will also be helpful in many respiratory conditions, like asthma, bronchitis and flu.  While the analgesic properties in the oil help with muscle aches and pains, lumbago, rheumatism and sprains. Lavender essential oil is also used for cystitis, dysmenorrhea and leukorrhea.

Emotional and Spiritual Conditions

Because both emotional and spiritual conditions can be influenced mainly through aroma, both the CO2 extract and the essential oil are effective.  They are both used for emotional and spiritual conditions like anger, depression, insomnia, hysteria, migraines, mood swings, nervous tension and shocks.

You will find more information on Lavender essential oil HERE.   You might also enjoy reading the article on the differences between Lavender, Lavandin and Spike Lavender. As well s the blogs on Lavender Reviewed and Research on Lavender

Tony Burfield, Natural Aromatic Materials – Odours & Origins, 2000
Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol I-V, 1948 reprinted 1972
Madeline Kerkhof, CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy, 2018
Julia Lawless, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Sourcebook, 2017
Leung and Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, 1996
Tisserand and Young, 2nd Edition Essential Oil Safety, 2014