Prepping Guide: How to Find Quality Essential Oils

Essential oils are obtained from the most precious plants on the Earth. These potent plant extracts are packed with therapeutic properties that benefit the body as well as the mind.

People have been using essential oils for centuries. Their popularity has increased in the recent years as more and more people are turning back to the traditional medicine. The U.S. essential oil market is projected to reach $7.34 billion by 2024 according to the reports of Grand View Research, Inc. This recent boom has flooded the market with a number of different essential oil brands and products.

essential oil

As cautious survivalists, you have to question the integrity of every product you buy.

So is every essential oil on the market really of exceptional medicinal value?

Keep on reading to find out how you can find quality essential oils for your prepping purposes.

Why Is It Important To Use Pure Essential Oils

Essential oils were once produced by the small circle of professional aromatherapists who maintained the quality of whole manufacturing process. Today, a whole bunch of mainstream companies practices irresponsible cultivating, harvesting, and processing. Pesticides are often used to protect the crops and artificial fillers and fragrances are used to supply high demand.

crops farming

Looking at this, one can understand why the purity of essential oils is extremely important. Even slight contamination can ruin your therapy or cause adverse reactions.

  • Why Does It Matter?

We use essential oils in many different ways. Topically applied essential oils have the ability to bypass our natural skin barrier and enter our bloodstream. The last thing you want is unknown toxins circulating your body.

Inhalation of contaminated essential oils is just as bad, if not more. Breathing in the vapor will introduce those synthetic chemicals directly to your lungs. Easy access to our internal system is certainly a double-edged sword. Essential oils offer powerful healing benefits only when in the purest form.

Are Essential Oils Regulated?

You may be asking yourself, how companies can even sell adulterated essential oils behind labels such as “100% therapeutic grade” or “100% clinical grade”. Isn’t there any regulation in place?

essential oil

Well, the FDA is responsible for regulating drugs, cosmetics, foods, food additives and dietary supplements. So, where does this agency fall short?

  • Cosmetics or Drugs?

According to the FDA, essential oils can be classified either as cosmetics or drugs. If the essential oils or products containing them are meant to make a person more attractive, they are cosmetics. If the product is intended to be used for preventing or treating illnesses, then they classify as drugs.

Here is the catch. Cosmetic products and drugs are regulated differently. Drugs have to be approved by FDA before entering the market, while cosmetic products and their ingredients (except color additives) are not subject to FDA approval. Drugs have to be admitted safe, effective, and correctly branded. Looking at the state of the modern market, you get a clear idea that essential oils are rarely considered drugs by federal agencies.

  • Organic Essential Oils

Not a single governmental agency in the U.S. grades essential oils as “therapeutic grade”, “clinical grade” or “aromatherapy grade”. These misleading grading standards are made by the essential oil industry. Companies individually determine the very meaning of these made-up labels. Unfortunately, there is not a single official grading standard implemented for the essential oil market.

Even if the lack of regulation is troubling, you can still rely on the “organic” labeling.

essential oil

The FDA does not have any regulations defining “organic” or “natural in place; however, the USDA manages National Organic Program (NOP). NOP defines “organic” labeling and provides certifications for the agricultural ingredients that meet their definition.

Essential oil brands that have USDA organic certificate produce their crops or get their oils from distillers who do not use fertilizers and pesticides (depending on the organic claim). You can take a look at labeling requirements to see the difference between “100% organic” and “organic” claim.

How to Find Quality Essential Oils

The lack of regulation and misleading marketing make it difficult to find high-quality essential oils. You really have to dig deep to find a brand that practices conscious manufacturing.

As a determined prepper who pays attention to details, you will hopefully assess essential oil brands with ease. Having a high-quality collection of essential oils in your medicine cabinet will give you a piece of mind knowing that you are exposing your body only to pristine natural ingredients.

Here are some of the indicators that will let you determine the quality of essential oils:

  1. Do Not Fall For “Fancy” Names And Claims

As we have established, those fancy labels that companies use to sell their products are not regulated in any shape or form. “Therapeutic grade” or “aromatherapy grade” labeling is strategic and often misleading marketing that you should not fall for. Not all suppliers that use these terms are necessarily being dishonest; however, you should keep in mind that these terms are not officially standardized.

essential oil

Instead look for USDA organic certification that ensures a certain level of quality. It is especially recommended that you buy organic citrus essential oils because citrus fruits are traditionally grown using pesticides. Even small traces of chemical residue can be magnified in the form of essential oils.

  1. Check The Botanical Name And Chemotype

Every essential oil bottle should clearly state the plant’s botanical name. For instance, rosemary essential oil should indicate Rosmarinus officinalis while lemongrass label should disclose Cymbopogon flexuosus.

The true purity of certain essential oils can be determined by their chemotype (CT). Same plant species can produce essential oils that defer in quantities of chemical components. For instance, lavender grown in France may have different chemical makeup than lavender grown in Spain. Chemotype names the abundant compound within the oil.

essential oil

Here is an example:

Rosmarinus officinalis CT camphor

Or

Thymus vulgaris CT thymol

Not all essential oils have a chemotype. Plants that produce chemotypes include lavender, peppermint, melissa, rosemary, basil, sage, and thyme.

You can imagine why chemotype is a great indicator of quality. A company has to do lab tests to determine the abundant compound within the essential oil.

  1. Other Label Clues

The label is the first thing you can look at when buying your essential oils. The information provided on the packaging is pretty telling. Besides the botanical name and chemotype you essential oil should also disclose this information:

  • Country Of Origin

The label should provide the registered seat of a company and the country of origin. More often than not these two data differ.

Essential oils are often imported from other countries since certain plant species cannot be grown in the local climates. An essential oil brand that is transparent about its production will openly disclose the country of plant origin either on the label or on the website.

essential oil

  • Distillation Or Expiration Date

Make sure the product label has an expiration or distillation date. You can look for the approximate shelf life of individual essential oil on the internet and compare it to the info provided on the bottle or on the website.

  • Warnings

Every legitimate brand should care about the wellbeing of their consumers. The warnings on the packaging should give you an idea of how seriously the company takes your safety. Look for the warnings such as:

  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • Do not use during pregnancy.
  • Only for external use.
  • Never apply undiluted essential oil on your skin.
  • Instructions on how to dilute an essential oil.
  • Instructions on how to store the essential oil.
  1. Methods Of Extraction

A method of extraction can significantly reduce the quality of essential oil. Some extraction techniques are simply better at preserving the chemical makeup of plant extracts. Take a look at this extraction methods ranking from best to worst:

  1. Cold pressing: No heat or solvents are used in the cold pressing. Not all essential oils can be extracted with this method. Only plant materials that easily leak their extract can be cold pressed. Citrus essential oils are usually cold pressed.
  2. Steam distillation: This extraction method uses steam to vaporize and capture volatile oils. Hot steam heats the raw plant material, however not to the boiling point of the volatile oil. Steam distilled oils are lavender, eucalyptus, rose, peppermint, etc.
  3. Solvent extraction: Solvents used for extraction bind to volatile oils, which are later separated to get the absolute. Solvents can leave residue behind, which reduces the purity of oil absolute.

essential oil

You should always buy cold pressed or steam distilled essential oils. Both extraction methods preserve the therapeutic properties that you are after.

  1. GC/MS Testing

A great way to determine whether a company sells pure essential oils is to see if they do lab testing. A brand that guarantees the quality has to do GC/MS testing on each new batch of essential oil they get from the distiller.

Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analyze constituents of essential oils on the molecular level. It is best if these tests are done by the third party to avoid partiality. Although the GC/MS testing pinpoints chemical components within the oil the results cannot tell us whether a certain chemical is natural or synthetically-made.

Needless to say, always buy from a supplier that does GC/MS testing and is not secretive about the lab results. It is best to buy from brands that share their GC/MS reports on their websites. Some suppliers share their lab reports on request while others do not share them at all.

  1. Cost

Enormous amounts of plant material are needed to yield a small amount of essential oil. To give a better perspective, it takes about 256 pounds of peppermint leaf to get one pound of essential oil, while 250 pounds of rose petals yield only one ounce of oil (30ml).

essential oil

The amount of hard work, time, and plant material it takes to create a bottle of equality essential oil is quite outstanding. It is not a surprise why pure essential oils are more expensive than essential oils containing fillers and fragrances.

The price of essential oil should give you an idea of how much thought went into the manufacturing. Now, remember that costly products are not always necessarily better. Simply keep in mind the old saying “If it is too good to be true, it probably is” when buying your essential oils.

  1. Buy From Local Suppliers

You should consider buying essential oils from your local, independent suppliers. Small local distillers have to comply with the state’s regulations which will give you a better idea of how plans are grown and processed.

It is unlikely that you will find a local supplier that carriers all essential oils. Some essential oils have to be imported, like frankincense or myrrh.

Independent farms usually have a much more open and honest relationship with their customers since they heavily rely on local support. Try finding a family-owned business that accepts visitations.

Essential Oil Brands You Should Look Into

  1. Plant Therapy

Plant Therapy USDA Certified Organic Oregano Essential Oil

  • Botanical name provided.
  • Usage directions and warnings provided on the label.
  • Country of origin proved on the website.
  • GC/MS test results for each essential oil are available on the official website.
  • Organoleptic testing involving the use of human senses is done.
  • The brand carries organic essential oils.
  1. Rocky Mountain Oils

Rocky Mountain Oils - Purify

  • Botanical name provided.
  • Country of origin provided.
  • GC/MS test results available on request on the official website.
  • Organoleptic testing involving the use of human senses is done.
  • The speed of light passing thought essential oils (refractive index) is measured.
  1. Aura Cacia

Aura Cacia 100% Pure Essential Oils - Rosemary

  • Botanical name provided.
  • Country of origin provided.
  • Usage directions and warnings provided on the label.
  • The bran carries USDA organic certified line of essential oils.
  • GC testing is done on essential oils. GC results are not available on the website. (Contact company for more details.)

Other Smaller Brands:

Conclusion

The first step to prepping home remedies is ensuring your essential oils are of high quality. As a survivalist, you have to be wary of deceptive marketing.

If you cannot trust the advertising then you surely should trust your own judgment. Do not be afraid to dig deep and contact the company if you have any questions or doubts in mind. It is your right as a consumer to know what you are spending your hard-earned money on.

Before you carry on with further research, you should take a look at these last tips for finding quality essential oils.

  • Always make sure to buy essential oils in tinted glass bottles.
  • Try buying from a company that discloses what parts of the plant are used in oil (leaves, stems, petals etc.).
  • Try buying from a brand that has NAHA and/or AIA
  • Read product reviews from other consumers.
  • You do not have to buy essential oils from only one supplier. Look for the strengths in different companies to develop a sense for the quality.
  • Try finding a brand that is transparent about its production even when they make mistakes.

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  1. I ditto Janet Mullins. doTERRA Essential Oils are Certified Pure Therapuetic Grade. One of the highest ratings an essential oil can be given.

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