Is your oil a fraud?
Buying an essential oil is easy. Buying a good one, on the other hand, can be a challenge, even for trained aromatherapists. Ideally, you’ll get a bottle of potent liquid distilled from the flower, root, leaf, or rind of an aromatic plant. Unfortunately, it’s tough to know if that’s what’s actually in the little bottle you brought home. Some vendors “extend” essential oils by mixing them with less expensive nut and seed oils, while others pass low-cost oils off as ones that are harder (and pricier) to come by. And others just totally fake it with synthetics that echo the plant’s scent.
So how do you spot the good stuff? Look for these telltale signs.
How it looks
Here’s a fun fact: essential oils aren’t true oils at all. They simply got stuck with the label because they don’t play well with water. And, as it turns out, this quirk comes in handy for spotting any hidden nut, seed, or vegetable oils covertly added to an essential oil. The test: Place a single drop on white printer paper and let dry. If there’s an oily ring left behind, it’s not a pure essential oil. THE EXCEPTIONS: Essential oils such as sandalwood, cedarwood, vetiver, German chamomile, and patchouli oils, which are naturally heavier in consistency and deeper in color, says Jade Shutes, president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. (Note by The Candleroom: Tropical essential oils from Asia that are thicker and richly colored include Jasmine, Ylang ylang, Sampaguita, lemongrass and citronella; Also, oils from the citrus family such as orange, lemon, bergamot, etc, may leave a light tint residue which is normal due to its natural characteristic coming from the skin of the fruits. watch video here >>. See a sample of paper testing here>>)
While high cost doesn’t signify high quality, it’s smart to be wary of an essential oil with a super-low price tag. Essential oils are almost inevitably pricey: It can take a roomful of plant material to fill just one bottle of essential oil, and if the botanical is scarce, it further drives up cost. Check several sites to get an idea for the normal price of the oil you want.
Make sure the plant’s Latin name is listed on the label or, if you’re shopping online, the webpage. If only the common name is listed (for example, “lavender essential oil”) you might be shelling out for a lower-cost hybrid. And if it doesn’t specify that it’s an essential oil, it isn’t. “Lavender oil” is nothing more than perfumed oil; it may or may not contain material from the plant, and won’t have the same therapeutic properties as “lavender essential oil.”
Is a statement about purity absent?
The label should always indicate if the essential oil is 100% pure essential oil. If it doesn’t, that means there’s a high chance that it’s been altered, or mixed with something else. For an oil to be effective, it needs to be pure.
The smell of the oil
If you purchase an oil from the same company, but it doesn’t smell like the others of the same type you purchased, that’s actually a good sign. If the oil consistently smells exactly the same every time you buy it, then odds are, the company is adding chemicals, probably synthetic, to achieve the same smell profile. While the chemical constituents of an oil may remain the same, the ratio of each will not.
There are lots of things that will influence the scent. The amount of rain the crop received, the temperature of the air, the length of the growing season, the soil content, etc. – similar to wine. Wine from the same grape varietal, grown in the same location, from the same producer may yield a vastly different tasting wine from year to year.
All essentials must be stored in glass containers, because the oil’s strong chemical compounds break down and react with plastic. What’s more, glass should be dark blue or amber to protect the oil from degrading ultraviolet radiation, Shutes explains. Take note of the temperature, too. Bottles should be kept in a cool place, since heat messes with the oil’s chemical composition.
Place a drop of a vegetable, nut, or seed oil on the pad of one index finger, and place a drop of the essential oil on the other. Rub the oils with your thumbs, noting the differences (or similarities) between the feel of each. True essential oils have a little slip, but for the most part, they shouldn’t feel thick or greasy. Heavy, richly colored essential oils, like sandalwood, vetiver, German chamomile, and patchouli, are exceptions, Shutes says. (Note by The Candleroom: Tropical essential oils from Asia that are thicker and richly colored include Jasmine, Ylang ylang, Sampaguita, lemongrass and citronella; Also, oils from the citrus family such as orange, lemon, bergamot, etc, may leave a light tint residue which is normal due to its natural characteristic coming from the skin of the fruits. watch video here >>. See a sample of paper testing here>>)
How it pours
When you unscrew an essential oil’s cap, ideally it will be sealed with an orifice reducer—a plug that controls how many drops come out at once. This is helpful for dosage, yes, but it also prolongs the shelf life of oxidation-prone oils by limiting their exposure to air at all times. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t have one, but do watch out for any essential oils with built-in dropper pipettes. The little tubes are typically made of plastic or rubber, which can both break down and release synthetic impurities into the oil, Shutes explains.
Read more about knowing if your essential oils are not fake here >>
Here is a blog about 8 Unmistakable Signs Your Essential Oils Are FAKE >>