Pure essential oils contain a number of benefits for your entire body, and can have a positive effect on your mood, ability to sleep, and even for memory retention. While fragrance oils can smell divine and can certainly make your home smell wonderful, they are typically synthetic, and we have not yet figured out how to duplicate the same health benefits that an essential oil offers. If you choose a 100% pure, natural essential oil, or therapeutic grade you are providing you and your family a whole host of positive health boosts.
Fragrance oil and cheaper oil blends
While fragrance oils have their place and you can certainly use them in a diffuser or even in a spray bottle diluted with water, they shouldn’t be used as a massage oil or as a substitute for other ways in which you would normally use essential oils (in recipes, as supplements, for wellness, or to alleviate aches and pains, for example.) The same could be said for a cheaper essential oil to which other chemicals or products may have been added. If you’re not sure that the oil you’re using is pure, either do your research to find out exactly what went into it, or avoid it altogether.
Regulating bodies and their jurisdictions
Essential oils fall under a number of regulating bodies, including AFNOR (Association Francaise de Normalisation), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. AFNOR provides standards and directives for the European Union with relation to intracommunity trade.
Every company wishing to take part in trade within the European Union must provide detailed information on their essential oil including:
- Water content
- Acid value
- Phenol levels
- Chromatographic profile
ISO promotes the standardization of guidelines for essential oils including their:
- Testing sampling
They will also offer quality standards for essential oils for a fee. In the United States, the FDA has jurisdiction over determining whether essential oils are a drug or a cosmetic, depending on the oil’s intended use. If a company promoted an essential oil’s ability to improve the user’s appearance, the essential oil would likely fall under the cosmetics category, while if a company promoted an oil based on its healing qualities, it may very well be determined that the oil is a drug. Most oils are not considered drugs at this point in time, and this is why they are available to the general public without a prescription from your doctor.
Factors that can affect the quality of your oil
- The plants themselves. If the oil that you’ve purchased was made from plants that came into contact with pesticides or herbicides, it’s likely that these chemicals have made their way into your finished product. Plant quality can also vary depending on where they’ve been grown, including soil conditions, and rainfall levels.
- Plant processing can make a big impact. Oils have become very popular in a variety of uses, and they are widely available, not they’re certainly not created equal. Sometimes a company will sell oil that has been diluted or adulterated in some way, and this is often very difficult to identify without proper testing.
- Your oil should come in a dark bottle to protect the integrity of the oil from any sunlight. It should have been kept cool and not exposed to heat or cold, and kept sealed from oxygen. Most oils are good to use for 1 to 2 years as long as they’ve had proper storage.
Key factors to look for when buying essential oil
Is the country of origin for the plant provided? This is especially helpful information for someone who uses oils in their place of employment (an aroma therapist or masseuse, for example) as qualities differ from country to country.
Lavender is one type of oil that can be made from several different species under the same general heading, but if the Latin name has been provided, you can determine exactly what plant you’re using and its special benefits.
Does the bottle advertise 100% purity? Sometimes the ingredients list will show other additives. You can’t always trust a statement of purity, but if the bottle omits anything regarding its purity, you can safely assume it has other ingredients.
How does your essential oil compare in price to other bottles of essential oil? If you find oil that is significantly cheaper than others, it’s not likely to be a pure and natural essential oil.
Is there information about wild crafting or organic certifications? A company will be proud to display its certifications and any quality guidelines that it operates by.
Thank you to Sam Socorro who wrote this article. Sam is a guest author from Vidalux and is a respected and expert voice in a plethora of health related subjects with over 10 years of writing under her belt.