An Essential Oils Guide. Take a Good Look When Buying Essential Oils
What should you look for when buying essential oils? How do you know if it’s pure? Where does it come from? How is it made? Has it been tested for quality? What is the price? These are questions you should ask yourself when purchasing an essential oil.
Take a good look when buying essential oils at several key points that I’m going to go over in this quick essential oils guide. This will help you know what to buy and what to avoid.
What is the importance of using botanical names with essential oils?
It’s important to know the difference between essential oils with the same common name because they may not have the same therapeutic benefits. A plant’s common name is the name that we use to refer to that plant, i.e. cedarwood, lavender, lemon. However, there may be different types of that plant, and that’s why it’s important to know the botanical name also. That way you know what you are getting.
For example, there are different types of chamomile:
- Chamaemelum nobile (reduces inflammation, relieves depression and anxiety, soothes muscle cramps)
- Matricari recutita (calming, antiseptic, anti fungal, anti-inflammatory)
- Eriocephalus punctalatus (calms anxiety, soothing skin conditions).
There’s also different types of sandalwood:
- Santalum spicatum (aromatherapy, cosmetics, perfume )
- Santalum album (calming, anti-inflammatory, treatment in skin problems).
Therapeutic or clinical grade
The terms “Therapeutic grade” and “clinical grade” are used by essential oil suppliers to claim how superior their oils are over other suppliers oils. However, these are non-standardized terms and can mean whatever the supplier wants them to mean. Now this doesn’t mean they are trying to trick you, there’s just no standardized grades in which the essential oil has to meet a specific criteria for.
There are no certifications to make an essential oil therapeutic. Also, essential oils are not regulated by the FDA. They are in the same category as herbs and are viewed by the FDA as a supplement.
Organic and wildcraft options
When you’re ready to buy essential oils, look for organic. Pollutants that are on a plant can be more concentrated in essential oils. Unsprayed does not mean the same as organic.
With organic, naturally occurring pesticides or herbicides such as pyrethrins, light oil, and biological substances are permitted. And organic certification can be expensive.
With unsprayed, they do not use pesticides or herbicides to spray their plants. Plants can also be wildcrafted, which means they are grown in the wild.
How can you be sure of the quality of the oil?
Some essential oil businesses will have their oils tested. It’s unlikely that you will find poor quality or adulterated essential oils from these companies.
There are two tests. There’s a gas chromatography and a mass spectrometer test, or GC/MS. These tests are the primary methods available for identifying the molecular makeup of a sample.
The gas chromatograph separates elements of an oil, and the mass spectrometer provides details of these individual components lending to their identification.
This helps researchers determine purity and quality and catalog which components may have therapeutic effects. These tests are often performed from batch to batch.
What is the price?
A low price tag is not necessarily a good thing, and it could keep you
from getting a quality product. Every oil takes a large amount of plant matter to create a small amount of essential oil.
For instance, it takes about three pounds of lavender flowers to produce just 15ml of lavender essential oil. And there’s approximately 50 lemons to make 15ml of lemon essential oil.
Essential oils are easy to dilute or adulterate. A common way to dilute is with vegetable oil or alcohol. To test this, place a couple of drops on a piece of paper. If the drop leaves an oily ring, it likely contains vegetable oil.
The most common form of adulteration is to add some cheaper oil. When someone does this, or adds alcohol, you are not getting 100 percent pure essential oil.
People can still get therapeutic help with the cheaper oils, but you don’t know how much dilution or adulteration has been done to the essential oil.
I found that I had to use more of the cheaper brand essential oils to get the same results or affect as the pricier ones. They were just not as potent as the higher brand oils.
I find it best to stick with one that works the best, and for me that would be the ones with a little higher price tag. They might cost a little more, but you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. And remember, a little goes a long way. After all, there are about 200 drops per 10 ml of oil.
What are they telling us about their oils?
A reputable essential oil company will also give the public as much
information on their oils as possible. They will give you information on what the oil is used for. The essential oil company will give a description on what it smells like (sweet, floral, citrusy, spicy, woody), and what it can do for you (skin care, help with sleep, energetic).
They will also tell you what country it came from and how the oil was extracted from the plant (cold pressed or distilled). They will tell you what part of the plant was used, whether it was the flower, leaf, stem, bark, etc. Sometimes they will also tell you which essential oils blend well with another. These are important details for some consumers.
What is the shelf life of essential oils?
Essential oils should be in dark amber or blue glass bottles. They are never in clear glass because light will deteriorate the aromatic and therapeutic properties of the oil. Never buy essential oils in plastic bottles. Essential oils dissolve plastic. This will contaminate the essential oil.
Essential oils do have a shelf life, so always buy less rather than more. Several things will impact this. Things like heat, light, oxidation and time. Essential oils are volatile, which means they will evaporate.
Essential oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties. This prolongs shelf life. They also do not contain water. So they won’t mold or mildew.
Depending on the essential oil, shelf life can be one to two years or more depending on the chemical makeup of the oil and the aforementioned facts. If needed, you can extend the shelf life by storing in the refrigerator.
What is the sustainability?
There are things we can do to ensure that we’re not contributing to the endangerment of essential oil-bearing plants. Essential oils are highly concentrated. So if we use them properly, they can be environmentally sustainable. Of course, we know that one drop of oil comes from a large amount of plant material. So use that drop wisely.
Remember, a little goes a long way. Avoid essential oils that come from dwindling resources, such as agarwood and rosewood. And whenever possible, purchase from reputable suppliers that mention their conservation and sustainability efforts, particularly from endangered species. And know that there is a greater risk of adulteration for essential oils that are from threatened and endangered plants.
Choosing an essential oil
So as you become more educated about essential oils, it will only enhance your enjoyment of the aromatic plants. Find a company that you trust and watch for the things mentioned in this essential oils guide.
Essential oil purity is a vital part of safety. As you look when buying essential oils online or at the store, you will get a better feel for the businesses that supply essential oils and find one that you can trust to provide pure and high quality essential oils.
If you have any comments, please leave them below.