Updated: Jan 9, 2021
If you want to benefit from the therapeutic properties of Essential Oils, it is important that you choose the right oil, one that is of high quality and purity.
There are many different ways Essential Oils can be adulterated such as adding synthetically derived constituents, blending a higher quality oil with a lower quality version of the same species and blending other essential oils that are less expensive while misleading customers that the oil is a pure oil; you have to be cautious before buying essential oils. The cost of Oils depends on many factors such as the method of distillation (some EO have to be distilled several times), the amount of plant matter needed to produce the oil (it takes around 10,000 roses to fill a single 5ml bottle) and many others.
There are lots of factors we should consider when buying EO, here are the first five I consider:
1. Always buy EO from a good, reputable and well stablished supplier that specialises on Essential Oils. A reputable company will always give you additional information about Essential Oils in the description section; always look for information such as country of origin, method of distillation and grade (in oils such as Ylang Ylang, the grade and country of origin determines the quality of the oil).
2. Botanical name, common name and 100% pure essential oil MUST be printed on the label. Botanical name is extremely important as there are many different chemotypes and varieties of the same family plant, each of them with their own botanical name and often with very different therapeutic actions. Botanical name is also important for safety reasons; for example, in the Sage family, you should make sure you purchase Salvia Sclarea which it's reputed for its many therapeutic properties and it's safe to use, instead of Salvia officinalis, that can be very toxic.
3. Buy the best oil you can afford. If you have time, before you buy an oil do a little research about the oil you wish to buy; factors such as where (geographically) the plant has been harvested, the part of the plant that has been distilled, the method of distillation used and the grade of distillate can give you an indication of the quality of the oil. Familiarise yourself with real prices of EO by researching what reputable companies charge and be very cautious if the price of the oil is too low.
4. The supplier must be a member of the ATC. The Aromatherapy Trade Council act as the first self-regulating and authoritative body for the UK aromatherapy trade. Responsible suppliers of essential oils and aromatherapy products should be members of ATC.
ATC was formed in 1993 and share concerns regarding the safety and quality of essential oils that are available on the mass market. Purchasing through a company that is member of ATC is a minimum requirement but if we really want to purchase good quality Essential Oils, we should also consider the above 1-3 key points.
5. After considering all the above, choose an Organic oil if you can. If you wish to buy organic, look for the Soil Association stamp on the label. Plants grown for the purpose of producing organic essential oils are grown in soil that are free of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. There is no clear evidence that Organic essential oils are better quality that non-organic; harvesting and distillation methods seem to be more important to determine the quality of the oils; however, I believe that organic citrus oils are the best choice as these oils tend to be extracted by expression (the rinds of the fruit are literary squeezed until the oil glands burst and release the oil), rather than steam distillation.
Also, when buying organic you are helping the environment and contributing to a more sustainable future; we should also be mindful about the plants used to produce Essential Oils that are listed on the IUCN red list of Threatened Species such as Sandalwood (Santalum album) and specially Rosewood (Aniba Rosaeodora) which is listed as endangered.