Essential oils have always been a wonderful alternative natural therapy and have recently become more popular than ever. As more essential oil options become available, it’s so important to know what to look for when purchasing oils, and how to sift through misinformation to make sure you’re getting the best quality products you possibly can.
Here is a list of 9 things we recommend you should look out for in an essential oil provider.
1) Botanical Name
The botanical name (or latin name) of the essential oil indicates the plant species used to produce pure essential oil. This demonstrates that it is from a single species, rather than a blend of different essential oils. For example, there are several species of Eucalyptus Essential Oil with unique therapeutic properties and aromatic qualities. It is important that this is clearly stated on the bottle.
2) 100% Pure & Clean
Is there a statement about purity on the label? Or is it a trademark? If a label says both “100% Pure Essential Oil” and the “botanical name” in the ingredient list or on the label, it is normally a good indication that the purity of the oil is good. However, this is not legally enforced - so you still need to look out for other signs that ensure the purity is 100% and high quality.
3) How It Was Processed
There are several different ways in which essential oils can be extracted and it is good practice for the provider to disclose what process they use. The traditional and most popular method of extraction is steam distillation. However, there are various other methods that can be used, such as cold-press and solvent extraction. The extraction method used for each single essential oil should be accessible to you.
4) Country of Origin
Will the provider supply you with the essential oil’s country of origin? Quality can vary from different countries, depending on the oil being purchased, so it is important to take note of where it is being sourced. If the essential oil is native to a developing country, such as Frankincense and Ylang Ylang, it is also important to ensure the oil is being ethically and sustainably sourced. Producers and farmers of essential oils should have the freedom to set their own rates per kilo, based on their annual forecasts and yields. They need to earn a certain amount from their harvests to maintain and grow their business and respective families/communities.
5) Provide GC/MS Results On Request
A gas chromatograph is a chemical analysis tool used to separate and identify individual constituents found within a given essential oil2. It is important the providers are willing to provide batch-specific GCMS reports on each essential oil. They give you an accurate reading of exactly what is in the bottle, and assurance that the required testing protocols have been followed. Please note that without a certain level of knowledge on essential oils, it can be challenging for the average user to read and understand the results.
6) Aromatherapy Experience
Does the provider have experience (or preferably qualifications) in the field of aromatherapy or natural medicine? Are they respected by other essential oil practitioners and/or educators? It is important as a provider of essential oils that the information you are providing is accurate and true, and the best way to monitor this is ensuring that the information they are providing is from a qualified source.
7) Organically Sourced or Wildcrafted
Organically sourced means that the plant has been grown and processed chemical-free. While some plants are grown non-organically/conventionally with pesticides and herbicides will have these toxins in them, also in the essential oil produced from them.
Many of us choose to use essential oils for our health and the health of our homes, children, and environment, so choosing a Certified Organic, toxin/chemical-free essential oil makes sense.
For some essential oils, "certified" organic is not possible. This is normally the case when an essential oil is wild-harvested and no plantations have been established - such is the case with our signature essential oil, Australian Kunzea.
Also, there are many amazing small-batch producers of essential oils in Australia that have chosen not to get officially certified as organic. By supporting only "certified organic" you are leaving a lot of equally deserving producers behind.
Instead, it is more important to access all producers on the quality of their essential oils and production systems. Testing should be conducted to ensure they are organically sourced and that no chemicals or pesticides are used - chemical residue-free! At Zea, this is a very important part of our brand values.
8) Best Before Date
Expiry dates and batch numbers are not mandatory on essential oils. However, we choose to include them on most of our oils so that you have some idea of when the oil produced. It also helps us keep track of different batches and the testing results associated with each batch.
Essential oils also have a shelf life, and this information will give you an indication of this timeframe.
9) Support Small Suppliers, Rather Than Large Corporations
This is something we strongly believe everyone should do. Not only for essential oils, but for all industries. A lot of essential oil suppliers have established long-standing relations with their distillers, or in some cases, may even distil some of the essential oils themselves! This allows them to keep a close eye on all aspects of the supply chain and ensure purity and quality is of the highest level.
As a bonus, smaller suppliers are often more affordable than large corporations, as they don’t have distributors that need to be paid or high overheads.
In Australia, we are lucky to have so many amazing suppliers and producers of essential oils, and they all need our support.
Check out our full range of Australian grown and distilled essential oils.
Here is what you should avoid:
In addition to the several things you should look for when it comes to choosing your essential oils, there are a few important things to avoid or keep in mind when choosing a provider.
1) Fragrant or Aromatherapy Oil
Some essential oils are sold as blends, or they are labelled fragrant oils or aromatherapy oils. These have different meanings, so pay close attention to the labels when selecting your oils. Generally, a fragrant oil is a synthetic scent, rather than a pure essential oil, so should be avoided. It also means that it won’t have any of the therapeutic properties that normally come with a pure essential oil.
2) CPTG or “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®”
Some customers ask whether an essential oil must be “CPTG” or “Therapeutic”. While some companies can use this terminology, it is simply a trademark and has no reflection on the true purity of an essential oil. In fact, there is no universal grading system for essential oils. “Therapeutic Grade” was invented by some very clever marketers at one company who wanted individuals to believe that their oils were therapeutic grade essential oils and then all others. The main company marketing this concept also wanted individuals to believe that they and they alone somehow had the only therapeutic grade essential oils on the market (as if the market had somehow not existed until they existed).
We love essential oils and it’s so important to us here at Zea that you take care of yourself and your family by making sure that you use the best oils available and get your information from experienced aromatherapy and natural medicine practitioners.
About the Author - Michelle Brass ND
With over 25 years of experience in the natural health industry, Michelle has dedicated her life to helping others embrace the therapeutic benefits of nature. Throughout her time as a health practitioner, she has used and recommended countless traditional and conventional treatments to her clients - as she believes an integrative approach to health and wellness is very important. Michelle is passionate about using and promoting essential oils and, in particular, Kunzea Oil, as she has seen them help thousands of people over the years. She knows that using essential oils in your daily life can help bring balance to the mind, body and soul. She is constantly trialling and testing new products with her loyal clients.
- AromaWeb. Verifying Essential Oil Quality and Purity. https://www.aromaweb.com/articles/essentialoilqualitypurity01.asp. Accessed April 14, 2020.
- Shutes J. The Quality of Essential Oils. https://www.naha.org/assets/uploads/The_Quality_of_Essential_Oils_Journal.pdf. Accessed April 14, 2020.
- Battaglia S. The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. 3rd ed. Zillmere: Black Pepper Creative Pty Ltd; 2018.
- Tisserand R, Young R, Williamson E. Essential Oil Safety. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier; 2014.