Before we start, I would like to point out that it’s not so much about who is a better supplier, but which brand/company you prefer and trust. But, for those just getting started with Essential Oils (EOs), here are a few tricks to help ensure you’re getting a quality product.
1. Shop Local
This actually has more benefits than most people realize. Local shop owners, particularly those specializing in a specific type of product, tend to know their stuff. And store owners like to be proud of their establishments, which means they’re pretty picky about which products they’ll sell. Other perks? Most shops are fairly priced, your money stays in the community, and many owners will do their absolute best to accommodate customers' needs and requests.
2. Read The Label
Honestly, we should be doing this for every product we buy, but there’s a reason it’s particularly important when purchasing EOs and other raw materials. A quality vendor will/should always put the following information on their labels:
- Latin Name - Did you know there are literally hundreds of variations of Eucalyptus, each with their own unique properties? Knowing the Latin name of an EO will ensure you’re getting the right oil.
- Country Of Origin - This plays a major part in determining the quality, benefits, and scent of each EO. When possible, try to go for country/countries the plant originated in.
- Distillation Method - Most essential oils are steam distilled, while some are cold pressed (citrus oils), or solvent extracted (absolutes). There are other methods, but these are most common.
- Organic/Conventional/Wild/Etc. - Organic doesn’t always mean better. Yes, spraying can alter the scent of an EO, however the residues of pesticides sprayed on a plant most often do not transfer into the EO during steam distillation (the molecules are too large to pass through the filters), nor do they affect the quality or benefits. For many Aromatherapists, the choice between organic, wild, or conventional is usually a preference.
- Dilution Percentage - Some precious EOs are diluted with a carrier oil (such as Jojoba) to help reduce cost. These dilutions retain all the benefits of an oil (depending on carrier), so they are widely accepted in therapeutic practices. Any company that does this should label the dilution percentage, as well as the carrier used. For example, we sell Jasmine 10%, which is only 10 percent Jasmine EO, and 90 percent Jojoba.
We are hesitant about listing this as a deciding factor, as there are companies raking an insane amount of cash for EOs that are normally not all that expensive. However, there is a way that can help you determine if the cost of an oil is simply for profit, or if it’s because it’s harder to obtain. Ask why the EO costs so much. If the vendor claims it’s due to superiority and quality over any other companies EOs, there’s a good chance they’ve given it a ridiculous mark up. If they explain (in detail) that it’s due to the extraction/harvesting method, it’s most likely a fair price. And if an oil is extremely inexpensive, there’s probably a not-so-good reason for it (low quality, it’s gone rancid, etc.).
4. Ask Tough Questions
As folks who prefer quality products at full price, we at The Apothecary like to ask a lot of questions before making a purchase, especially with products we use on our bodies. Do your research on the oil you’re interested in beforehand, and ask tough questions you’ve already found the answer to. If the sales rep can give you an answer that is exact or similar to the ones you’ve obtained, then there’s a good chance they know what they’re talking about. Another good indicator is someone who doesn’t know, but is willing to find out for you.