How Important Is Essential Oil Quality? Are There Different Grades of Essential Oils?

April 02, 2017

lavender essential oil bottles and lavender plant material in mixing bowl

When it comes to discussing essential oil quality, we must first note that anything can be labeled as therapeutic, even if it is entirely made of synthetic chemicals. It can be difficult to tell the quality of an essential oil, especially if you are new to aromatherapy.

How to Look for Essential Oil Quality

Especially if you have never used essential oils before, it is a good idea to speak with an aromatherapy practitioner. They will help you understand which suppliers to trust, as well as which essential oils to use for different purposes. If you trust your aromatherapy practitioner, you should be able to trust their essential oil suppliers.

Essential Oil Regulations

The FDA does not regulate essential oils as drugs. Rather, they fall under the category of either Food or Cosmetic, depending on their intended use. This means that anyone can purchase essential oils without needing a prescription.

As we stated earlier, the labels are not regulated. Claims can be made to the Federal Trade Commission about a product’s advertising, but a manufacturer can put essentially anything they want on the label of an “essential oil,” whether or not it actually is one.

Quality Impactors

When it comes to determining the quality of an essential oil, there are many factors that play a big role:

  • The plants themselves may have been harmed by chemicals such as pesticides, which would affect the quality of the essential oil to be made from the plant in the future. There is also the matter of the soil conditions, altitude variations, and rainfall discrepancies that affect the health of the plant, which will greatly impact the essential oil.
  • How the oil is processed also plays a big role in determining its quality. It is hard to tell through the labeling alone whether an oil is actually pure.
  • Packaging and storage are also important factors. Essential oils should be tightly closed, and contained in dark glass bottles. They should also be kept in cool places without too much exposure to light or heat. Of course, this is easy enough to control in your own home, but you can’t be sure that a store has been storing their essential oils supply properly. Generally, it is safe to use essential oils for 1-2 years after you’ve opened them.

How to Find Good Quality Essential Oils

Since there are no standards of quality control currently in place for essential oils, at least within the United States, you will have to do your own research to find reputable retailers and suppliers. Of course, asking an aromatherapy practitioner is a good place to start. However, since you can’t be around for the growing of plants and processing of an essential oil, it is difficult to be sure whether the essential oil you are thinking of purchasing is, in fact, pure. Here are some important things to consider:

  1. Does the label make any mention of purity? Hopefully, it will state that it is entirely pure, meaning it has not been mixed with something else or chemically altered. If it says 100% essential oil, still check for the following criteria.
  1. Does it smell the way you would expect it to? If you are purchasing rose essential oil and it does not, in fact, smell like rose, it probably isn’t pure.
  1. What is the cost? Essential oils can be very cost-effective, thanks to the usage you get per bottle since they can be enjoyed in such small quantities. However, synthetic oils may be much cheaper than their natural counter parts – we recommend steering clear of a deal that is too good to be true. It’s probably not the real thing if it’s super cheap.
  1. Does the label provide the plant’s Latin name? There are many different species of certain plants, so this is a way you can know whether you are getting the correct essential oil.
  1. Where did the plants originate? If the name of the country is provided, check to see if that country is a place where the plant is indigenous. If it is not provided, it may not be pure. Different countries of origins make a big difference in the quality of an essential oil.

Overall, you will come to understand more about the qualities of different essential oils versus synthetic oils the more you use them. Speaking with an aromatherapy practitioner is a great way to get started. Be sure to keep an open mind and nose, but be sure to only use completely natural essential oils!

At Anjaca, all are essential oils are 100% pure grade with no additive chemicals. We only source our oils from reputable suppliers.

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