What is organic essential oil?
Generally speaking, certified organic essential oils are usually superior to conventional essential oils. (Conventional means non-organic.)Certified organic essential oils are steam distilled or cold pressed from plants that are grown without pesticides. Since it takes a great deal of plant material to create even a small amount of essential oil, it certainly makes sense that essential oils distilled or cold pressed from conventional botanicals may have pesticides in them.
Almost all products that are organic tend to demand a bit of a higher price. You might wonder, “Is it really worth the extra expense?”. This will entirely depend on your personal belief towards all things organic, and whether or not you are against the use of any chemicals or compounds in your products.
When it comes to organic products, labeling can be deceptive! Despite claims about organic products containing only all-natural ingredients, this is often not true. Some companies out there create hype about their “organic” products when in fact, a great percentage of chemicals are still used in producing them. They just take advantage of the name association because it may provide perceived value to their products. Anyone can print the words “organic” on a label. It is therefore best to do a bit of product research before being blindly being convinced that it actually is an organic one just by what the name says.
On the contrary, in the United States there are official entities that will validate a product as Certified Organic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) serves to provide educational materials, programs and services to help farmers and businesses achieve organic certification. Their handbook includes rules & regulations for producing, handling, and labeling products. Any product that’s labeled USDA Certified Organic has complied to these standards, including prohibited practices and following a list of allowed and prohibited substances. Without the USDA stamp and just the name “organic” printed on a label, there’s still a possibility that the essential oil has been produced from sprayed plants, distilled poorly, or not properly handled during and after distilling. Despite a certain manufacturer claiming that their essential oils are “organic”, please only trust this fact when it’s stamped and approved.
Once an essential oil claims that it’s organic or all-natural, it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s better. The term ‘organic’ refers to agricultural processes and principles, and doesn’t guarantee that its end-quality is much better. But organic essential oils are safer to use because pesticides, chemical fertilizers and herbicides are eliminated from the equation right at production level. Further, organic farming fits more wholly into a well cared-for environment and mentality of sustainability.
The main reason that speaks for organic essential oils is the fact that you are actually hoping to gain aromatherapy benefits from your essential oil use. Organic materials can benefit our body and our health much better when they’re grown as naturally as possible, rather than commercially with chemicals, pesticides, and so on. Remember, when it comes to the kind of essential oils you choose, research the company’s reputation and look for the USDA Certified Organic seal.
How to buy quality essential oils?
If you start to pay attention to buy essential oils, then congratulations, essential oils have brought you benefits. When selecting essential oils for projects, you need to use the best quality oils you can afford. Of course, price is not necessarily an indication of quality when it comes to essential oils. There are a number of important factors to keep in mind.
Essential oils have nine basic scent categories that can help you identify the type of fragrance you’ll get with each essential oil. Because essential oils come tightly sealed, you can’t open the lid to smell them in the store. Knowing the basic aroma category of the essential oil will, at least from a broad perspective, give you an understanding of how the essential oil will smell. Some essential oils fall into more than one of the nine categories:
- Citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, mandarin, etc.)
- Earthy (sandalwood, cypress, patchouli, black pepper, etc.)
- Floral (rose, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, etc.)
- Herbaceous/Herbal (rosemary, clary sage, hyssop, basil, etc.)
- Medicinal (eucalyptus, cajeput, tea tree, etc.)
- Minty (peppermint, wintergreen, etc.)
- Oriental (ginger, patchouli, etc.)
- Spicy (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, etc.)
- Woody (cedarwood, rosewood, pine, frank-incense, etc.)
Avoid buying oils from retailers/suppliers that don’t provide the essential oil’s botanical (Latin name), country of origin or method of extraction. Each offers different therapeutic properties. The country of origin for oils is also important because the climate and soil conditions can affect the resulting properties of the oil. Is that rose oil steam distilled or is it an absolute? Any good aromatherapy vendor should realize the necessity for providing this information.
The word “purity” as it relates to essential oils is a marketing term. Much like the label “natural,” it may not have the meaning you think it does. An essential oil labeled as pure doesn’t mean it is high quality or even that there is only one essential oil in the bottle. For example, it’s not uncommon to find Melissa oil (also known as lemon balm) diluted with the less expensive lemon oil. In some cases, the essential oil hasn’t been adulterated with another essential oil but has instead been cut with carrier oil.
One of the best ways to learn about the quality of different brands of essential oils is to do your homework before you shop. Read company literature to learn how they distill their essential oils and whether their oils are “100 percent pure” and undiluted. Look for online reviews, or talk with experienced users for recommendations of the best oils to use.As a general rule, expect a pure essential oil to last at least a year—and many will last for more.
High-priced brand doesn’t necessarily indicate a high-quality essential oil, a low-priced brand may not indicate a poor quality oil. That’s why it is so important to also weigh other factors when evaluating which oils you’d like to try.
Even within one brand, prices range vastly for specific types of essential oils. Some, such as orange oil, peppermint, or tea tree oil, don’t cost much to produce because the raw materials are inexpensive and easy to obtain. Others, such as jasmine and rose, require larger quantities of raw materials, or they have raw materials that are more expensive or difficult to obtain, resulting in breathtakingly high prices. Fortunately, for the very high-priced oils, you can often substitute less expensive oils that have similar properties to make your project more affordable. One great way to save money is to purchase a starter kit containing several oils from a reputable company, such as ihomasy.
Essential oil manufacturers use a lot of buzzwords as marketing hooks. While they may sound exciting, they don’t provide meaningful descriptions of the products. Aromatherapist Jade Shutes has written extensively about the false marketing concept of “therapeutic grade” and has pointed out that claims of an essential oil being “certified” are essentially nothing more than marketing lingo. There is no official governing body that certifies essential oils or issues grades. If a brand of essential oils claims that its oils are “more therapeutic than others,” you can be sure that they’re exaggerating for effect. We will talk about “therapeutic grade” next chapter. While solid scientific evidence does exist showing the efficacy of many essential oils, be wary of extraordinary claims, which are most likely marketing hype.
The Internet is a wonderful and powerful tool that allows you to do something that wasn’t easily available to generations past. When used properly, the Internet can help you discover how users feel about the quality of available products and brands. This is as true for essential oils as it is for any other product on the market.
It’s up to you to do your due diligence on a brand.
Look for brand reviews on sites that have user-driven content. Research people’s praise and concerns about each brand. It’s best to look at the reviews of consensus—those reviews in which multiple parties agree.
While you should certainly take into account praises and criticisms, realize that those making wildly positive or wildly negative claims may need to be given less weight—unless the bulk of customers and users make those extremely positive or negative reviews.