10 Best Essential Oil Brands Known For Their Purity

Many manufacturers claim that they sell the best essential oil brands in the market. But how do you actually know if it is “the best?” Since this is an industry that isn’t FDA-regulated, it becomes trickier to choose and buy that little bottle from a brand.

A study report from Grandview Research says that the market for essential oils will grow to more than $2.35 billion by the year 2035 (globally).

So, if you are going to buy that bottle of essential oil for personal use, it does make sense to check for a few factors to ensure that you are choosing the best product available.

Today, we will tell you which brands sell essential oils with the highest quality and what factors should you look into when buying one.

So, let’s get started.

10 Best Essential Oil Brands
How to Determine the Quality of Essential Oils
~ Quality Standards of Essential Oils
What to Look for When Buying Essential Oils
Buying Guide: Factors That Determine The Quality of Essential Oils
Quality vs. Purity Of Essential Oils

10 Best Essential Oil Brands

  • Young Living
  • Now Foods
  • Plant Therapy
  • doTerra
  • Edens Garden
  • Healing Solutions
  • Aura Cacia
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Plant Guru
  • Radha Beauty

The companies mentioned below are ordered based on their quality, purity testing methods, and ratings from different customers on Amazon. Though there are hundreds of brands, these are our top picks.

1. Young Living

Official Website: Click here

essential oil brands

  • Founded: 1993
  • Headquarters: Lehi, Utah
  • Certification: Kosher-certified & Seed to Seal®
  • Testing Method: Gas Chromatography, Microbial testing, Optical rotation testing, Specific gravity testing, Refractive index testing, Flash point testing, Heavy metals testing, HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) testing, IRMS (Isotopic Ratio Mass Spectrometry) analysis, Viscometry, Densitometry, Polarimetry, Refractometry, ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry), Combustibility testing, Chiral Chromatography testing, etc.
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Young Living is one of the oldest and best essential oil brands. It was founded in the year 1993 by Donald Gary Young.

Every batch of Young Living essential oils go through 15-20 tests, most of which are repeated thrice after distillation, and thrice again after bottling.

Adulteration is a primary concern, and this is why every bottle of essential oil from Young Living is tested by a team of trained researchers & quality control scientists.

Any batch that fails to meet their established standards is returned and rejected.

It is a part of their SEED-TO-SEAL procedure and an assurance that customers are getting the finest essential oils. No company goes to this extent (and spending so much) in testing the purity of essential oils.

To prove the purity of essential oils, a few of these tests are necessary because GC/MS testing alone isn’t enough. Most essential oil brands are small, and might not have enough resource and cost to afford such testing methodologies.

Before a brand like “Young Living” entered this market, there weren’t proper standards to evaluate the therapeutic quality of essential oils.

Earlier, there was something called the AFNOR standard, but this was developed only to test perfumes. To distinguish the testing methodologies for essential oils, Gary Young was the first person to coin the term “therapeutic-grade.”

However, there still aren’t set standards to prove the quality of essential oils. Ever since Gary Young came up with this term, many essential oil brands have jumped into this bandwagon, using the same term, or probably claim that their essential oils are “certified.”

Since there isn’t proper standardization except for the AFNOR standard (which is set only to the perfume & fragrance industry), any company can label their bottles as “certified,” “therapeutic-grade” or anything for that matter.

But Young Living has purchased and compiled mass spectral reference library and essential oil retention index, which currently has more than 400,000 components. It features 1.3+ million references of oil molecules in their library.

It is the world’s only research reference library that conducts various tests on essential oils to ensure that they are genuine, pure, and are of true therapeutic-grade.

2. Now Foods Essential Oils

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best essential oil brand

  • Founded: 1968
  • Headquarters: Bloomingdale, Illinois
  • Certification: Kosher-certified, Halal Certified, Non-GMO verified, USDA Organic, and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) Certified
  • Testing Method: Refractive Index, Specific Gravity, Optical Rotation, ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry), Flash point, Solubility tests, Infrared absorption, UV/Vis (Ultraviolet/Visible Spectroscopy) for pigment detection, GC (Gas Chromatography), and Organoleptic Evaluation – for odor and appearance.
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Now Foods is one of the oldest and best essential oil brands, which operates and owns many distribution & manufacturing facilities both in Canada and the U.S.

The company was established in the year 1968 by an entrepreneur named Elwood Richard.

Besides an entrepreneur, Elwood was a certified physical chemist. He had the vision to enhance physical (or body) performance through nutritional supplements and healthy foods.

The knowledge and experience he acquired in his early research days left him a strong believer of the various benefits of natural products to lead a quality life.

This was the time when he laid the foundation of this brand, featuring nutrition & health foods.

Besides being a leader in the essential oils market, NOW has created a good reputation for the products it offers. Their oils are made from the highest quality ingredients but yet are low-priced when compared to other competitors.

Their long-term relationships with their suppliers, advanced instruments, and in-house labs make sure that every bottle of NOW Essential Oil is delivered fresh, safe, and fragrant for its intended purpose.

Headquartered at Bloomingdale, Illinois, the location features most of its primary manufacturing facilities and has corporate offices. To serve their customers at West Coast, NOW also functions a distribution and manufacturing facility in Sparks, Nevada.

The facilities at Sparks as well as Bloomingdale have advanced testing labs, where NOW’s research scientists use the latest analytical instruments to perform 16,000 tests on their ingredients and products every month.

NOW® takes purity and quality seriously. They have invested in high-end instrumentation and professional staff to check for the purity, quality, and identity of their essential oils. They work closely with their suppliers and growers to preserve the quality of the raw materials.

3. Plant Therapy

Official Website: Click here

top essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2009
  • Headquarters: Twin Falls, Idaho
  • Certification: USDA Certification from ECOCERT ICO
  • Testing Method: Batch-specific GC/MS
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Plant Therapy is another renowned essential oil brand in the market. It all started in the year 2009, when Chris Jones, Plant Therapy’s president, purchased a small organic beauty product firm from his mom-in-law, an aromatherapist.

Later, Jones found the need for high-quality essential oils at reasonable prices. But not many companies were offering them then. Either they came with lots of solvents or were priced so high that not many could afford them.

In 2011, the company decided to provide the finest quality oils and then, launched its own set of essential oils. In 2013, Robert Tisserand became Plant Therapy’s safety & quality expert.

While working with him, the company came up with their KidSafe range of essential oils and launched them officially in 2014, which were safe to use on kids between the ages 2 and 10.

The company implemented batch-specific GC/MS testing methodologies for all their oils in late 2014. This was done to ensure that each bottle made by Plant Therapy meets customers’ expectations and quality standards.

The company grew to new heights and expanded so fast that it earned its spot in Inc. 500 list as the 31st fast-growing private companies in the U.S. and No.1 in Idaho.

In November 2015, it became a USDA Certified Organic company and further expanded its product line in 2017 with 12 Certified Organic blends of essential oils (6 being Kidsafe).

When an essential oil bottle has the seal of USDA Certified Organic, it signifies that you are helping to protect the natural resources and reduce environmental pollution.

Since Plant Therapy believes in using purest ingredients and providing exceptional quality to its customers, their teams ensure that they know everything about their farmers, suppliers, plants, and distillers. Their certification shows that they adhere to strict standards just to bring their customers quality ingredients.

4. doTerra

Official Website: Click here

quality essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2008
  • Headquarters: Utah
  • Certification: CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®
  • Testing Method: Organoleptic testing, Gas chromatography, Microbial testing, FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy), Mass spectrometry, Isotopic analysis, Chirality testing, and Heavy metal testing.
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

doTerra is one of the best essential oil brands in the market right now. It was established in the year 2008 with an intention to provide the purest and high-quality essential oils.

The name “doterra” comes from Latin, which means “Gift of the Earth.”

Unlike other brands, doTERRA is created on complete science. The company has over 30 scientists and 2200 square feet laboratory space, where every scientist is committed to testing the essential oils – right from sourcing, strict testing procedures, and evolving usage models.

doTERRA has developed rigorous criteria to attest that its essential oils are free from synthetic ingredients, added fillers, artificial fragrances, and other harmful solvents.

Utilizing its facilities and other certified third-party laboratories, doTERRA’s plant oils go through the process of CPTG to make sure that customers get the highest quality essential oil.

Currently, more than 3 million Wellness Advocates use as well as sell doTERRA products throughout the world.

It uses a direct selling model, as this methodology enables distributors to work with customers. This approach also creates an opportunity for families and individuals to accomplish their financial dreams.

5. Edens Garden

Official Website: Click here

 purest essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2009
  • Headquarters: San Clemente, California
  • Certification: GC/MS Certified
  • Testing Method: Third-party Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) for every batch of essential oils
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Edens Garden is another well-known Non-MLM essential oil brand that produces high-quality plant oils.

EDENS stands for Effective, Dedicated, Educated, Natural, and Safe.

All their oils are 100% therapeutic grade. Their essential oils are GC/MS tested by different third-party experts. They also have certified aromatherapists and scientists who do all the research and conduct various tests to ensure that their essential oils are made of high quality.

Edens Garden was established in the year 2009. However, the story all started in early 2000 when Grace, the founder & CEO of Edens Garden was on a trip to New Zealand. She enjoyed the countryside atmosphere and untouched beauty.

She quickly learned that using essential oils were the perfect way to bring a similar effect on one’s day-to-day life. She knew that the aroma of essential oils could bring a sense of relaxation as well as offer multiple health benefits.

Later, in 2009, Grace launched Edens Garden. Today, it is one of the most renowned and established brands in the world.

Over the years, the brand has created a strong base of safety and trust with its customers. Every bottle of essential oil sold by Edens Garden is of therapeutic grade, meaning that it is free from herbicides, pesticides, and other harmful ingredients, which might harm your skin.

The brand also guarantees that its essential oils do not have GMOs, harmful fertilizers, synthetic chemicals, added paraffin, carriers, additives, or bases.

The best thing about Edens Garden is that they take health and safety seriously. Their oils are extracted from plants that are grown in their indigenous locations.

They also have direct relationships with their suppliers who are located throughout the world, as a few essential oils require their plants to be grown in different climatic conditions, altitude, elevations, water, etc. They are obtained from countries where they are actually grown in. These facilities are frequently visited and tested to ensure their standards are met.

6. Healing Solutions

Official Website: Click here

good essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2014
  • Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Certification: GC/MS Certified
  • Testing Method: Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) tests for every batch of essential oils
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Healing Solutions is another brand that has entered in the limelight recently. It was established in September 2014 with an intention to produce the finest quality essential oils without paying crazy prices.

At Amazon.com, it features thousands of positive customer reviews. The reason it offers highest quality oils at reasonable prices is that they don’t work on MLM (Multi-level Marketing) concept. Instead, they sell directly to customers.

Their main objective is to sell premium and finest quality essential oils, which are usually found only in tiny boutiques. To achieve this, they work with the most reputed suppliers of essential oils.

They provide complete full transparency just to make customers know that every bottle is 100% natural, pure, and free from solvents. Their essential oils are true therapeutic-grade extracted from plants from where they originated.

best organic essential oil brandsThey even have an in-house lab with a team of scientists and researchers working towards testing the oils strictly.

They execute GCMS testing for every batch of essential oils, and their purity guarantee is clearly published on their official page.

They include a special “lot number” on every bottle they pack to help customers look for the specific GCMS report for the oil they buy. This “Lot Number” is printed on the bottle’s label and includes 7 digits (format: XXX-XXXX).

7. Aura Cacia

Official Website: Click here

top rated essential oil brands

  • Founded: 1982
  • Headquarters: Weaverville, California
  • Certification: Certified organic certificate from Quality Assurance International (QAI)
  • Testing Method: Physical testing (Optical Rotation, Specific Gravity, Sensory Evaluation) and GC (Gas Chromatography) testing for every batch of essential oils
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Aura Cacia is one of the oldest and best organic essential brands in the market. It is a part of the renowned Frontier Co-op, which values the importance of nourishing the planet and people.

Frontier Co-op started its operations with just two people in the year 1976 at Eastern Iowa. It has grown steadily since then, and today, it has become one of the world’s major suppliers of natural products.

From 1970 to 1979, Frontier Co-op sold spices & herbs to other local co-ops. Later, it expanded its operations and started packaging essential oils.

When Frontier Co-op bought the company in the year 1993, Aura Cacia was already a well-established brand in the aromatherapy industry.

Frontier had also been selling essential oils from 1978 and was an expert in sourcing capabilities and quality testing. The combo of Aura Cacia’s market leadership and Frontier’s reputed quality expertise amalgamated into a premium-quality, popular aromatherapy line.

As a co-op, they care for all their grower communities and share their product information openly to show customers how they can improve their well-being with aromatherapy.

The brand is 100% committed to offering the finest quality. Their essential oils are made from natural botanical ingredients. Every batch of essential oils at Aura Cacia is tested for its quality and purity before it is shipped to the customers.

Aura Cacia’s testing program includes GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry), which guarantees that they provide oils with high standards.

They also offer certified organic oils as well. They continue to be the front-runner in aromatherapy even today through their strategy – Source to the Shelf™.

Well Earth™ (Aura Cacia’s sustainable and ethical sourcing program) and high-level testing capabilities assure the right purity. While some of their essential oils are produced commercially in the U.S., others are produced from where the plants actually thrive.

The organic products offered by Aura Cacia are certified by QAI (Quality Assurance International), a leading 3rd-party organic certifier. Every batch of their essential oils undergo these testing methods to make sure that they are 100% authentic and pure:

  • Physical Testing – includes Optical rotation, Specific gravity, and Sensory evaluation
  • GC (Gas Chromatography) Testing
  • Chiral Gas Chromatography Testing
  • Refractive Index Testing

If you look at their label closely, this is what you will find:

essential oil labels

This label includes this information:

  • 1% Fund: This is allocated to the growers and Mother Earth.
  • Single origin: This tells you where exactly the essential oil is sourced.
  • Aroma Note: This tells you about the aroma profile.
  • USDA Logo: Undergoes stringent USDA criteria for organic requirements.
  • Botanical Identity: A vital reference for medicinal benefits of the oil.
  • Purity Guarantee: Undergoes multiple and strict tests to check for purity.

It has also received various awards and recognitions for their products. It received the “Clean Choice Award” in 2017 from Clean Eating Magazine.

8. Rocky Mountains

Official Website: Click here

what are the best smelling essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2004
  • Headquarters: Orem, Utah
  • Certification: GC/MS Certified, USDA Certified organic, and S.A.A.F.E Promise
  • Testing Method: Refractive Index, Organoleptic testing, Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) tests for every batch of essential oils
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free) 

Rocky Mountains is another well-known brand in the essential oil industry. It was established in the year 2004 by a few enthusiasts who were well-determined to create safe & high-quality essential oils.

With RMO (Rocky Mountain Oils), you can be sure of purity. Furthermore, they also have come up with the concept of S.A.A.F.E Promise™, which stands for:

  • S = Satisfaction
  • A = Authentic
  • A = Analysis
  • F = Free from adulterants & solvents
  • E = Effective & Pure

Satisfaction: Rocky Mountains Oils are created to provide 100% satisfaction. They are potent and pure. They support this assurance by offering their GC/MS test results, which can be accessed directly from their website. Besides this, they are also committed to providing unmatched customer and 90-day return policy if you are not satisfied with their products.

Authentic: Rocky Mountains Oils are known for their strict process of choosing their suppliers. They have an unwavering commitment when it comes to quality testing. Every batch of essential oils goes through GC/MS testing before they purchase from their suppliers. Every batch of essential oils is checked for contaminants, synthetics, adulterants, solvents, and diluents.

Analysis: Before RMO oils can reach the customers, they undergo both internal & external testing. Their external GC/MS testing procedure is verified via a renowned third party laboratory, which is then, scrutinized by their in-house chemists. Once the oils are GC/MS tested, the chemists run broad internal analysis in order to check the quality with Refractive Index, organoleptic, and other tests.

Free from Adulterants: Since all the oils are GC/MS tested and goes through strict internal analysis, quality is 100% guaranteed.

Effective & Pure: Only the essential oils that meet the purity criteria are sent to stores.

Every essential oil bottle is packed carefully by experts into clean, dark, amber glass bottles using advanced equipment. Every essential oil bottle is sealed securely, labeled side & top, and then, prepared for shipping.

9. Plant Guru

Official Website: Click here

best therapeutic essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2014
  • Headquarters: Plainfield, New Jersey
  • Certification: GC/MS Certified
  • Testing Method: Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) tests for every batch of essential oils
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Plant Guru is yet another well-known brand in the essential oil market. It is a small family business, which is co-owned by Marcia and is dedicated to selling highest quality essential oils. The company was established in the year 2014 with a passion to support health & wellness and provide users quality essential oils made from finest ingredients.

Plant Guru offers 100% transparency with its quality. It buys essential oils from its trusted suppliers, which meet the strict USDA standards.

You will find every essential oil’s certification and GC/MS results on their official page. Their products are 100% therapeutic grade and free from pesticides, chemicals, and GMOs.

They offer 100 types of essential oils and have sold over 1 million products.

Their business model is pretty simple. There is no marketing, no multi-level pyramid pricing, and no advertising. This saves them lots of money, and this savings goes to their customers by providing premium quality essential oils and yet at reasonable prices.

10. Radha Beauty

Official Website: Click here

best pure essential oil brands

  • Founded: 2014
  • Headquarters: Aurora, Ohio
  • Certification: USDA Certified Organic
  • Testing Method: Organoleptic assessment (to test appearance & odor), Specific gravity, Visual evaluation (foreign materials, clarity, color, etc.), Refractive index, Optical rotation, Solubility (typically in ethanol), Flash Point, and complete range of product-specific tests
  • Animal Testing: No (Cruelty-free)

Radha Beauty is another essential oil brand, which was established in the year 2014 by Rebekah Letch (co-founder). Rebekah Letch is a model/ballet dancer and Singapore-Indian, who strongly believes in Mother Earth.

She co-founded this company with an intention to share her incredible results after being bathed in plant oils.

In an industry where harsh chemicals and toxins are concealed with attractive packaging, Radha Beauty stands against them. They believe that when you embody beauty with Mother Nature, you are sure to see incredible results.

With this belief, they develop the BEST organic and natural skin care products from plant-based extracts. Their products are 100% effective, affordable, and safe.

How To Determine The Quality Of Essential Oils?

The quality of essential oils is determined by quite a number of factors like:

  • Topography
  • Weather conditions
  • pH level of soil
  • Nutrients in the soil
  • Fertilizers used
  • Environment and growth conditions

These factors combine to determine the standard of essential oils. But beyond that are the implications of these factors and how they determine the quality of essential oil one incurs.

Quality Standards For Essential Oils

1. Certified Therapeutic Grade

Contrary to the popular belief that any essential oil labeled ” certified therapeutic grade” implies that the oil is legitimate or a 100% legitimate for therapeutic use, it has been discovered that it is rather an elaborate scheme by marketers and producers to increase the demand for their product and, by doing this, increase sales and income at the end of the year.

This “tag” does not come up as a grading system until the ’90s when some far-reaching marketers thought it would be a good idea to create a demarcation in the quality of essential oils. By doing so, they imply that it is only with their company that they can find this “certified therapeutic grade” essential oil that could not be procured elsewhere.

The idea was to plant in the head of customers that other companies sell essential oils of lesser quality or value. For a company offering the same services as about 100 other companies, this was a rather desperate move.

When the difference or selling point of one company would be the added features or abilities of a product that gives it a cutting edge over another. It was a pretty smart advertisement that brought essential oil users in droves, scouring the market for “certified therapeutic grade” essential oil.

For a while, their marginal income increased. There was maximum production as well as profit. Their oils were selling faster than they could produce. It did not take long, however, before other manufacturers realized that the “grass was greener on the other side” and that their honest claims were getting them less profit than their contemporaries.

As a result, they joined the fray and started claiming they had “certified therapeutic grade” essential oil as well. As competition was introduced into the market, and there came a rush for the company with the “best certified therapeutic grade” essential oil product, so did preposterous claims of the “abilities” of essential oil. This actually worked because it had aromatherapy subscribers tripping over themselves and rushing in droves to obtain a “certified therapeutic grade” essential oil.

The scheme does not end here. A high-end company then again came up with an idea to improve sales by claiming that their products were FDA approved which itself is a marketing strategy a slogan if you must that licenses them to state this. This begs the question of “what then is a “certified therapeutic grade” essential oil?”

The term is nothing more than a ruse, a commercial trademark that is registered and paid for.

2. ISO Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental organization established in 1947. It is a world-renowned federation of national standards bodies operating in about 100 countries, one from each country. This organization was established to:

  • Promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitate international exchange of goods and services.
  • Develop cooperation in the sphere of intellectual, scientific, technological, and economic activity.
  • Produce international agreements that are published as international standards.
  • Publish standards that set criteria for film speed, data stored on ATM, wine glasses for use in competitions and so on.
  • Render or come up with definitions for various subjects of discussion.

The ISO defines essential oil as:

A product made by distillation with either water or steam by mechanical processing of dry matter or dry distillation of natural materials. Following distillation, essential oil is physically separated from the water phase.

 ISO is the main certifying body recognized for its universally accepted standards for individual essential oils. (Burfield, Kirkham, 2006-2007).

ISO does not set standards for differentiating the standard of differentiating the quality of essential oil, rather they provide a guide to essential oil compositions that industries should follow to ensure uniformity in production.

Although it is necessary to know whether an essential oil falls within a normal range, it does not affect its therapeutic properties. In fact, an oil may not fall within any acceptable standards and still be very therapeutic. For instance, Texas & Virginia Cedar wood oils. (Haris, 2006).

ISO standards exist for both the Texas and Virginia Cedar wood oils. The Texas Cedarwood oil contains 35-48% of Cedrol (an alcoholic, aromatic compound of the oil) but is specified with a minimum alcohol content of 20%.

On the other hand, the Virginia Cedarwood oil has the stipulated maximum cedrol content of 14%. In the United States, recent FMA standards have replaced older standards and have made standards that include, and are now available for Chinese, Texas and Virginia cedarwood essential oils.

These standards stipulate that for the Texas and Virginia oils the alcohol content (cedrol related isomers) must range between 25-42% for the Texas cedarwood essential oil, 18-38% for the Virginia cedarwood essential oil and 8% for the Chinese Cedar Wood essential oil

3. AFNOR

AFNOR (Association Français de Normalization) is the French national organization for standardization body and is its representative body for ISO in that country.

Only a handful of the companies out there can boast of being AFNOR accredited and possess essential oil that can be tagged “certified therapeutic grade” and even lesser still can exceed their standards.

This is a really far-fetched tale because rather than the body setting standards that differentiate essential oil quality, the body provides a guide for manufacturers to use as a standard for essential oil composition. This helps the new batches to utilize minimum alteration in fragrance or flavor to the finished product.

4. GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe)

Under sections 201 and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Acts, any substance to be included to food or other edible substance must be certified by the group of experts in the FDA.

The acts states that any substance intentionally added to food is a food additive and must be subjected to a pre-market survey by the FDA and approved before said substances can be introduced to the market.

 

Unless the substance is judged to be safe for its intended use, such a substance does not “legally” find its way onto the market. On this note, watch out for goods tagged “exclusive” but are not sold publicly or only encountered in shady deals.

They could be FDA disapproved and were somehow through some underhanded means smuggled for sale. “Intended food additives” can sometimes end up as insecticides or pesticide after detailed inspection by the FDA and thus considered unfit for consumption.

Although there are many companies that have been certified by FDA to run a legitimate business, some manufacturers labelled their to be FDA approved  without having this stamp, thereby implying that such substances are “certified therapeutic grade” and also ingestible while being quite harmful upon contact with the internal faculties.

The FDA has put in place a failsafe of sorts in the form of a link that puts together a list of FDA approved substances. (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/grasguid.html)

Essential oils approved by the FDA are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) in little concentration, especially for day-to-day consumption to prevent the build-up of chemicals and potential toxicity. GRAS essential oils do not necessarily come from plants or are pure, but the concentration is closely regulated for human consumption.

5. GC/MS Spec Report

 Another underhanded scheme that manufacturers plot is to stick “GC/MS spec” on their product. What is GC/MS spec? It is an acronym for Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry.

Gas Chromatography: Chromatography is the separation of a compound using the difference between the rates of migration of the particle or components of a compound. The technique uses both qualitative analysis (an analysis that yields the identity of a compound) and quantitative analysis (an analysis that determines the number of elements or compounds in a sample).

The separation technique is characterized by the use of a mobile phase (liquid or gas) moving relatively to a stationary stage (solid or liquid). The essential oil passes through the gas chromatography equipment to identify the constituents of the oils.

The details of the experiments and interpretation are displayed on a piece of paper in peaks that represent ranges for different compounds also indicating the concentration of the constituents.

Mass Spectrometry: Spectrometry is the measurement of wavelength (distance between two peaks or troughs in a wave diagram or cycle) of electromagnetism radiation, especially any of several techniques used to analyze the structure of molecules; the measurement of spectra (the pattern of absorption or emission of radiation produced by a substance when subjected to energy e.g. radiation, heat, electricity) of things other than radiation, such as the mass of molecules and their breakdown products.

Mass spectrometry is used to interpret the results of Gas chromatography. Gas chromatography by itself does not indicate the constituents present in the oil, but it does indicate the presence of “something”. The Mass spectrometry results are used to give meaning to, and interpret the results of the experiments. This involves the skills of an expert to identify the constituents and unravel the quantity or concentration as hidden by the result of the experiment to the layman.

Besides arming oneself with the meaning of GS/MS spec as seen on the bottle, one should also consider; olfactory appraisal, confidence in the supplier, and the intentions of the individual as a supplier.

The Value of GC/MS: The knowledge of the complete chemical composition of any substance is of paramount importance. The significance of which should never be downplayed as it could lead to loss of life or irreversible life-changing medical conditions like total/ partial paralysis.

Before any chemical substance is purchased, keep yourself abreast of its chemical content, side effects, dosage, mode of application etc. Bearing in mind that GS/MS spec does not reveal the specified quality of the essential oil, it does play a very important role in ensuring your money’s worth for the functions you are buying.

What exactly is “genuine” and “authentic” when it comes to essential oils?
  • Genuine: Moral, profound, honest, sincere
  • Authentic: True, valid, factual, substantial, genuine.

These attributes answer all the questions related to what an essential oil is supposed to be. According to Kurt Schnaubelt, a genuine essential oil is something that is unadulterated. An authentic essential oil is from a specified target plant only.

Using that as a standard definition of essential oil, one would say “genuine essential oils are plant extracts without adulteration, additives, extenders, price or value depreciating ingredients”. Nothing but pure distilled oils.

The point of dispute with adulterated essential oils is that regardless of the fact that they may be affordable and common, it could pose a serious threat to life. Adulteration of essential oils reduce their therapeutic benefits, and the anticipated psychophysiological and physiological activities.

It can increase the susceptibility to adverse reactions and potentially introduce toxic compounds to the body which may not necessarily be toxic on their own but were never meant to be inside the body. Like how Monkeys carry the HIV virus but they themselves are not susceptible to the disease however, introduce this virus to human system, and it is very dangerous in fact, it is life threatening.

What to Look for When Buying Essential Oils?

  • A supplier that supplies essential oils to an aromatherapy practitioner or an educated audience. The chances of them being swindlers or opportunists are pretty low when the client is someone that can call their bluff and expose them for the crooks they are.
  • A small scale supplier, not a large corporation. The small scale supplier tends to produce on a small scale and most of them produce these oils for personal use. Large corporations, however, are mostly in it for the profit, most of their products are low quality.
  • A supplier owned by an aromatherapy practitioner or essential oil specialist.
  • A supplier with close relations to his/her distiller.
  • A supplier with a strong unquestionable and untainted reputation in the field.
  • A supplier that can provide spreadsheets containing GC/MS results and safety test results that can prove the genuineness of the product.
  • A supplier that is experienced (having been in the field for years) and has a clientele of aromatherapy practitioners and essential oil specialists.

Buying Guide: Factors That Determine The Quality Of Essential Oils

1. Fraudulent Misrepresentation Of Oils

Dishonest merchants sometimes mix up a bunch of oils and parade it to be the real deal while filling their pockets, while what they have sold is chock full of disadvantageous concoctions.

2. The Blending of a Higher Quality Oil With a Lesser Quality One

In order to increase the volume of oil, it is sometimes blended with a lesser quality oil of the same plant species. But all it does is reduce the quality of the oil by introducing impurities.

3. Adding Individual Constituents To Oil

Sometimes in the quest to make the oil more ” effective”, a few additives are added that weaken the strength of the oil.

4. Adding Synthetic Fragrance to Improve the Aroma

Synthetic fragrance refers to sweet-smelling fragrances that are man-made, while essentials oils are sweet-smelling fragrances that occur naturally. Genuine essential oils are unadulterated, with no additives to “spice” them up. They are naturally “spiced” up. Both essential oils and synthetic fragrances contain chemical compounds which, when mixed together, might result in a completely different substance that should not be used for the same purpose as the pure essential oil.

5. Mishandling or Improper Management Of Oil

During transportation or usage of oil or careless exposure to environmental conditions, blemishes or impurities can be introduced into the oil sample and render it less pure that it was initially.

6. The Presence Of Carrier Oils

Due to various reasons applicable to usage, essential oils can be diluted using carriers to make them more safe for use due to the high concentration of the oils. In diluting it, however, the purity of the oil is lost.

Quality vs. Purity Of Essential Oils

A thin line rides between “Quality” and “Purity”. They can be used interchangeably, and mutually exclusive of each other as well.

According to the English dictionary:

  • Quality: The degree to which a man-made object or system is free from bugs and flaws, as opposed to the scope of functions or quantity of items.
  • Purity: The state or degree of being free of the flaw, imperfection, pollutants, foreign material.

What Affects the Quality of Essential Oils?

1. Soil Type

An experiment to determine whether soil types affect the quality of an essential was performed using Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis L. Vases were aligned filled with varying percentages of loamy soil the first 100% the others, a ratio of loamy soil with some other soil types.

Seven of these vases were laid out and each had varying concentrations of loamy soil with each holding less concentration of loamy soil than the last. The plants were subjected to the same conditions under a controlled atmosphere.

At the end of the experiment data like plant height, the number of branches, dry and wet weight of herbs were examined and it was discovered that the maximum growth and figures were attained by the plant in the pot containing 100% loamy soil.

Essential oil extraction was also carried out using all the plants and again the plant in the 100% loamy pot had the highest yield of oil. Close examination of the oils extracted showed that soil types have a pronounced effect on the chemical constituents of essential oils (Asian Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 2017).

2. Amount of Rainfall

In an experiment to determine the effect of rainfall on the quality of essential oil using Coriander Coriandrum sativum L. Four pot replicas of coriander were placed at four different positions with varying altitude which implies varying degrees of rainfall. The case study is carried out in Iran (Khoy, Maku, Urmia with altitudes of 1182 m, 1148 m, and 1332 m respectively).

The essential oil extraction was done using water distillation by the Clevenger apparatus. Statistical data reveals that the climatic conditions affected the quality of essential oil yielded and also dry matter yield of coriander.

The highest yields were obtained from Maku and Khoy due to the close range of their altitudes. With decreasing altitude and precipitation the maximum essential oil yield was obtained. This evidently proves that the quality of essential oil can be affected by the amount of rainfall. (Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 2016).

3. Mode of Harvesting

In an experiment involving Thyme, Thimbra spicata L. The plants were left to grow in various stages and the plant harvested for its essential oil using Hydro-distillation in Clevenger apparatus in three hours.

The plants were harvested in varying stages of growth at different periods. Right before fit bloomed, while it was in bloom, and after it had bloomed. The oils were extracted and subjected to GC/MS test and the results indicated that the best oil yield was while it was flowering followed by after it flowered and the least oil yield was obtained from the specimen harvested before it flowered.  (Journal of Advances In Environmental Biology, 2011)

4. Storage Conditions of the Plant Before Distillation and Length of Time Between Harvest and Distillation

The experimental procedure to determine the effect of storage conditions on the quality of essential oil before distillation using Rosa damascena rose oil. Five rose plants were nurtured at the same temperature of 0°C – 3°C and stored respectively for 7,14,21, and 28 days while one was distilled immediately after harvest.

The other oils were then gradually distilled and their oils extracted. Using GC/MS to determine the effect of storage duration between harvest and distillation. It was discovered that storage temperature did not matter so much as storage duration.

The oil of the rose plant distilled immediately after harvest yielded the most quantity of essential oil as well as the most constituent followed by the rose stored for 7 days while the oil of the plant distilled 28 days before distillation yielded lesser oil volume and even lesser oil constituent than the aforementioned two. (Turkish Journal of Field Crops, 2009)

5. Plant Part Used in Extraction

An experiment to determine this was carried out using Angeli (Angelica archangelica). Some plant essential oils can only be derived from one part of the like the rose essential oil which can only be extracted from its petals.

However, for this plant, its essential oil can be extracted from its root and its seed. Root essential oil from the angelica plant causes a skin reaction when it is applied to the skin and exposed to UV radiation while the essential oil extract from the oil does not. This clearly shows that they have a slight variation in their chemistry. (Third edition, clinical aromatherapy, 2015)

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