How UMA Sources the World’s Best Essential Oils

Shrankhla Holecek’s family has been producing essential oils for the world’s top beauty brands (think TOM FORD and Estée Lauder) for years. So when Shrankhla launched UMA as a way to share her family’s legendary oil blends with the world, industry insiders (and more than a few celebrities) took note. We asked Shrankhla to explain the special process UMA uses to source its essential oils. (Spoiler alert: Not all essential oils are created equal!)


At the UMA estate, we have been striving for centuries to create only the highest quality essential oils, and we want you to know exactly how we ensure that. I’m about to get a little technical, but bear with me. We think it’s important that you know exactly where your essential oils are coming from. Here’s the rundown on essential oil production—and why we do it our way, which isn’t necessarily the easy way.

Blending essential oils with Uma

What’s the story behind essential oils?

These potent ingredients have an equally rich history. Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use essential oils in medical practices, religious ceremonies, spiritual enhancement, and, of course, embalming. When tombs are uncovered today, traces of cedarwood and myrrh are common discoveries. There are over 150 references to essential oils in the Bible—including the well-known story from the New Testament about the baby Jesus receiving gifts of frankincense and myrrh from three wise men.

The obsession didn’t stop! The reintroduction of essential oils into modern medicine first began during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since that time, essential oils have been used to kill harmful germs, balance the mood, lift spirits and dispel negative emotions. At UMA, we use centuries of ancient wisdom about essential oils in order to create highly effective, pure blends that are perfectly suited for modern day.

Where do essential oils come from?

Essential oils are commonly derived from the berries, seeds, bark, rhizome, leaves, flowers, and fruit peels of plants. At our estate, we grow and manage many unique types of crops—something we do completely organically and sustainably. One of my favorite essential oils—the extremely precious sandalwood—is derived from the wood of a tree that takes over 15 years to mature!

Workers on the Uma estate

How are essential oils extracted from these plants?

There are several methods for extracting essential oils, and more sophisticated methods come with a higher price tag. As you may guess, the less expensive methods—which we don’t believe yield the highest-impact results—are a common choice for companies looking to cut corners.

  • Distillation. Water is heated to produce steam, and the steam softens and ruptures plant cells to release the volatile compounds that make up essential oils. The steam flows through a condenser (think a vertical glass tube that’s hundreds of feet long!), cools, and becomes a liquid. Finally, the material collected at the surface is the essential oil. This is the method we typically use at UMA because it gently yet effectively creates quality oils. The process is ultra-sensitive—time, temperature, and pressure must be constantly monitored—but we love giving our oils a little extra TLC to ensure our customers have the best possible product.
  • Expression/cold-pressing. This is the method used to produce most citrus oils, like orange or lemon. A lot of pressure is applied to the fruit peel to break open oil glands under the surface. Citrus peels contain lots of oil, which means they are more easily extracted, making them less expensive than other essential oils. While we love the benefits of essential oils like orange, our products are bursting with other, more precious ingredients to give our customers the best possible results.
  • Solvent extraction. This relatively inexpensive method is typically used for oils like jasmine or tuberose, because their chemical composition makes it difficult to use other means. An organic solvent like hexane or methanol is used to wash the plant material, eventually separating out the oil from the solid stuff. While the solvent usually evaporates, traces of it can often be found in the products. We don’t use this method—purity is our middle name!
  • Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE). This method is fairly similar to the one above, but it is completely nontoxic and odorless. Supercritical carbon dioxide is used as the solvent to extract the essential oil and then converts into a gas, leaving a solvent-free product. The carbon dioxide is even recyclable—talk about sustainable!
  • Enfleurage. This old-school process was beloved by the Ancient Egyptians. Glass trays are covered in an animal or plant fat, and then flowers are placed on top and left for days or weeks. The fat absorbs the essential oil, and the fat is solubilized with alcohol. After the alcohol evaporates— voila! —you have an essential oil. This method has fallen out of favor because fats do not extract oils as well as an alcohol solvent, leaving you with weaker results. Although we incorporate many traditions in the creation of our essential oils, this is not one of them, as we want to create only the purest essential oils.

Hopefully, by reading this, you’ve learned that not all essential oils are created equal. We put a lot of hard work, patience and research into every ingredient that goes into every bottle. “Purity,” “quality,” and “organic” aren’t just words for us—they’re the way we do business. We know that by setting these standards and living up to them, our customers are getting the best possible product with no strings attached.


15 Creative and Effective Uses For Essential Oils

I’ve used essential oils in many common applications like soaps, scrubs, and lotions. This article is about 15 creative essential oil uses around the house.

Whether you’re trying to keep pests out of your house or cleaning some really tough messes, essential oils can be a valuable part of your arsenal.

Essential Oil Uses for Pests

Mice and Spiders

Mice and spiders hate peppermint. Put a few drops of peppermint essential oil in the inside corners of cabinets or under the refrigerator to banish pests from the house!


Are flies trying to invade your home? A fly deterrent spray can be made with distilled water, a bit of alcohol, and a few drops of cinnamon essential oil. Add to a spray bottle, shake, and spray around your door frame and windows to keep flies away.

Fruit Flies

All it takes is one overripe banana and you get dozens of fruit files. These nasty little things are attracted to rotting fruit, so you can simulate that to attract and trap fruit flies. Fill a small disposable cup half way with water. Add a few drops of litsea cubeba or orange essential oil. Top with plastic wrap, securing it to the sides of the cup with tape or a rubber band. Then poke a few small holes in the top. The fruit flies will find their way in, but will be unable to leave and will eventually drown in the liquid when they drink it.


Add a few drops of lavender or mint essential oil to your rinse cycle. The scent will remain enough to help keep mosquitoes from flocking to you. I’ve also used lemongrass and citronella essential oils for the same thing.

You can use the same oils above for a longer lasting effect. Put a few drops of these oils on the center of a bandana and roll from the inside out (so the oils are not in contact with your skin). Wear the bandana around your neck or tuck in a pocket. This will also help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes and other flying insects. Other oils that can help with mosquitoes are geranium, eucalyptus, cedarwood, and litsea cubeba.


Cedar shavings or blocks are commonly used in closets to get rid of moths. You can also put a few drops of cedarwood essential oil on a cotton ball and place in your closet. I have a few on the top shelf of my closet and I only refresh them twice a year.


Aphids can destroy an entire crop of greens, roses, or other plants. Mix up a spray bottle with warm water, a bit of alcohol, and a few drops of cayenne essential oil. Any other pepper will also work. If these are hard to find, make an infused oil with hot peppers and add to your water. Spray the affected plants, top and bottom. This works like hot pepper wax that you can find commercially, but for only pennies!

Essential Oil Uses For Household Odors

Musty Cabinet Odors

Put a few drops of vanilla on a cotton ball and place it under the sink. Vanilla helps eliminate musty odors in small, enclosed spaces. Frankincense is naturally antibacterial, and is a good substitution if you don’t like vanilla.

Suitcases/Trash Cans/Diaper Pails

I go to see family once a year and the rest of the time my suitcases sit dormant. A few drops of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball will help keep them smelling fresh. The same goes for trash cans and diaper pails.

Furnace Filter

Sprinkle a few drops of your favorite essential oil on your furnace filter to smell it every time the fan runs. Most essential oils are somewhat antibacterial, so this can help to clean the air as well.

Carpet Refresher

Mix a few drops of lavender essential oil in a cup or so of baking soda. Sprinkle on the carpet and leave for 30 minutes or so. Vacuum up the baking soda and the scent will remain for about a week.

Essential Oil Uses For Cleaning

Removing Stickers

Orange essential oil is an acidic oil, so it works very well to help get rid of residue from labels, pine resin from Christmas trees, and anything else that may be sticky. Dip an old piece of flannel into some orange oil. Rub it on the residue and wait a few minutes. It’ll soften up and you can just wipe it off. Stubborn or old tags may take a few applications.

Cutting Grease

Add essential oils to shampoo or dish soap for extra cleaning power. Lemon and grapefruit essential oils are great grease cutters. Why not add a few drops to your shampoo or dish soap to give it an extra boost? Lime essential oil works too, but I’ve found the smell a little off-putting. It works great on floors though!

Hiding Scratches in Wood

Unless your wood is blonde or very dark, the yellowish color of turmeric essential oilwill help to hide scratches in wood. It works really well for woods with a reddish tone.

Hard to Clean Dishes

We’ve all had it happen – we’re cooking something on the stove or in the oven and we get distracted. The pan burns and no amount of scrubbing will fix it. Here’s an easy solution: put a thin layer of dish soap in the bottom of the pan and add 15 drops of lemon essential oil. Let sit for 30 minutes. Add warm water and stir, leaving another 30 minutes. Wash out and rinse well. Really bad burns or thick food residue may take multiple tries.

For Beauty

Rosemary and frankincense essential oils are great for achieving shiny hair. Put a small dab of your normal hair serum or styling balm in your palm. Add a few drops of rosemary and frankincense essential oils and mix well. Style as usual. You’ll notice more shine and smoother hair immediately!

Finding Good Quality Essential Oils

Not all essential oils are created equally. Many are cut with inferior oils or have other added ingredients that affect the purity. Non-organic essential oils may have pesticide residues present. For these reasons, we recommend using organic, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils to avoid these issues.

Important Notes

Always use essential oils with caution. Not all essential oils are for everyone. If you have sensitivities to some, try another. Most essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil before using on the skin.

Pets, children, elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems may have more sensitivities than others. Use sparingly around these populations.