Wondering how to know if the essential oils you’re using are pure?
There are lots of companies out there claiming to have top-quality essential oils – but how do you know what you’re truly getting?
The practice of growing plants for essential oils varies hugely, and with this, so do the quality standards.
Below, we’ll be looking at all the key factors when it comes to growing conditions, standards, and research, as well as what signs to look for when looking at essential oil blends.
How are organic essential oils regulated?
To be classed as ‘organic’ the quality of essential oils must meet the definition outlined by the National Organic Program (NOP).
The NOP is looked after by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) and will examine which ingredients have been used in the product and its manufacturing process, before issuing the oils with a certificate.
Organic essentials oils must meet certain criteria – this determines the grade that will be written on the bottle. The NOP provides these standards, which are determined by the percentage of ingredients within the product.
Who governs advertising claims?
It is the responsibility of the FDA to regulate the labeling of cosmetics and drugs.
However, the advertising of essential oil claims is specifically regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.
What about regulations around the world?
Each country will practice different regulations, so this information will depend on where you live.
For example, aromatherapy products in Europe (including the UK) are regulated by the CLP Regulation. Health information surrounding the hazards must be labeled clearly on the bottles, so customers are well informed before consuming the products.
What are the regulations of essential oils in the United States?
This is where it gets a little complex!
Essential oils can comply with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but they won’t always be approved by the FDA quite in the manner you may expect. So the FDA has to ensure that all drugs are safe for us. For the FDA, the important aspect is what is written on the label.
A label on an essential oil bottle can’t claim to cure or prevent a disease unless it can back it up with scientific data and studies. If an essential oils company makes any such claim and then markets it on the bottle, then in the eyes of the FDA, it’s now considered a drug – and must be regulated as such.
Getting approval from the FDA to be able to sell a drug is a long process, and a costly one – so essential oils tend not to make those claims.
It all comes down to what the consumer is using essential oils for. Drugs are there for therapeutic use and will need to be certified. Cosmetics cleanse the body. So there is a distinction.
If essentials oils are marketed as cosmetic, then the companies don’t need to be approved by the FDA, they just need to be compliant.
What can impact pure essential oil quality?
The quality of essential oils can be impacted by many factors, either from which plant is being harvested, to the manufacturing process to produce the essential oils.
Where was the plant grown?
This can impact the quality of essential oils, and what beneficial qualities they will hold. Some plant species need to be grown at a higher altitude to promote a higher concentration of health benefits.
If they have grown at lower altitudes, the quality of the essential oil blends won’t be as good.
What part of the plant was used to distill the oil?Â
Essential oils are usually harvested from the active parts of the plant being used, to ensure potency in the final product.
Harvesting from inactive parts of the plant results in less quality, and a less concentrated product.
How was the plant grown?Â
Organic essential oils will be grown much differently from pure essential oils – both of these approaches lead to a difference in quality and purity.
What is the climate like?
Plants are living things – like us humans, they thrive in certain places and don’t in others.
Though they may still grow, they might not develop fully if they aren’t grown in the climate they prefer, affecting the purity and quality of the essential oils harvested.
How was the plant harvested?
Harvesting the plant ethically and sustainably will help to maximize the power and quality of the oils, therefore the benefits that can be gained from them.
When was it harvested?
You wouldn’t harvest a vegetable if it wasn’t ripe – it’s the same principle for essential oils.
Waiting and harvesting essential oils when they’re ripe and ready allows them to produce the maximum level of beneficial qualities – leaving you with the best oils possible!
How was it stored?
Essential oil is volatile and needs to be protected. Limiting the amount of oxygen, and controlling the temperature it is exposed to is a great way to keep it in its best condition.
How do I find high-quality essential oils?
When you start your search, the first thing you should do is to look for a reputable company.
They should be able to provide you with as much information about their oils as you want.
Ideally, the essential oils you’re looking to purchase should clearly show:
- Scientific names; a good company will be open about where their product comes from – including the name of the plant. If the company clearly lists the accepted scientific names of their plants and ingredients, more often than not, they can be trusted.
- Country of origin; customers may not be able to distinguish between the country, however certain areas are well known for their certified organic oils, which can be an important sign of quality.
- Purity information; search for the purity level on the bottle. If it doesn’t say 100% pure, then it probably isn’t, and therefore, is not a good quality product.
- Cost; experts will be sure to tell you that quality products don’t always equate to cheap products,Â so if a company site is offering a product that seems too cheap – it most likely isn’t the real deal.
Organic essential oil FAQs
How do you know if essential oils are 100% pure?
There are a few indicators you can look for to ensure you’ll be getting 100% pure essential oil.
The bottle it is sold in should be glass – bottles should usually be either amber or dark blue. The reason behind this is that it protects the oil from UV light, leading to a much better quality.
If you see an essential oil being sold in a plastic bottle, walk away! It doesn’t take long for the condition of the oil to break down.
One of the easiest ways to ensure the product is 100% is to test it on white paper. A drop of the oil onto one page will show. Leave it to dry and if you can see any residue then the oil has most likely being diluted, as essential oil doesn’t leave any residue when it has dried.
Do essential oils have to be organic?
They don’t have to be. You can purchase essentials oils that aren’t organic – but organic products are more than worth looking for.
A lot of people like to purchase organic vegetables, not liking the thought of pesticides on what is going into their body. This is exactly the same for essential oils, however, oils are more concentrated so the pesticides are more concentrated too.
When you think about it like that, you can see why organic is a good option! You’re getting more of the good stuff in each bottle.
Is essential oil 100% pure?
It can be – you should always do your research, to make sure the oil is 100% pure. There are ways to test this, which we’ve touched upon above.
Are there different grades of certified organic essential oils?
Companies use a grading system to determine the quality of the products.
Lower-grade products may have come from a site or seller that hasn’t harvested the oils correctly from the plant – therefore it won’t be the best example of essential oil.
So overall, the lower the grades are, the lower the quality.
What is the difference between pure and organic essential oils?
The first big difference is that any plants and botanicals that are grown to produce organic essential oil are going to be pesticide-free.
No genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will be present, nor herbicides or fungicides – so in terms of purity, organic essential oils are very high simply because they aren’t being subject to other products. This higher purity level also lends itself to having more beneficial compounds in the oils.
Organic oils also have to go through a different process when it comes to being distilled.
The oil is extracted from the plants and rather than the plants simply being disposed of, they are then put back into the field, and used as compost for the new plants, increasing the health and growth of the plants to come.
The process for harvesting organic essential oil is all about getting the best and most pure level of oil possible. Using organic essentials oils also encourages farmers and others in the health industry to think about the health of the planet – which we all need to protect!
What should I look for when buying organic essential oils?
Essential oils should be in a dark glass bottle to protect them from light, which can be harmful to the health of the oils.
Always look for the words ‘essential oil’ on the label. Some bottles may be labeled as ‘fragrance’, this indicates that the blend is probably synthetic and not essential, and the therapeutic value will be low.
A company that is confident about its products will always have the scientific Latin name of the plant on the label. This information is important, as each plant provides different benefits to health conditions.
Always buy in small amounts and check the best before date. Certain ingredients can have a shorter life span than others. Whilst you could still use them, they may not impact your well-being in the positive way you’d get otherwise.