Essential oils – why quality matters

Aromatherapy offers numerous benefits to our physical and emotional health – but quality is key! Here’s how to discern the good from the downright ugly when it comes to shopping for essential oils.

Essential oils are everywhere we go – department stores, health food stores, pharmacies, and even grocery stores. In fact, most stores nowadays sell some brand of essential oil – and no wonder! Essential oils have a ton of beneficial properties and are much safer than many of the products we use on and around our bodies. But unfortunately, not all essential oils are made the same. Just because a bottle says “100% pure essential oil” does not mean that it’s free from harmful synthetics and chemicals. In our house, we are very careful about what products we use – and this article will help you do the same!

When I first started using essential oils, I was told that peppermint oil was great for headaches. I’m a sucker for anything to do with natural health and, regrettably, didn’t do my research. Instead, I went straight to my local department store and ended up leaving with a random selection of essential oils. Within a short time of using them, I began experiencing the same negative side effects that occur whenever I use wax warmers or candles – which, by the way, are both big no-no’s in the natural living world.  In short, my headaches got worse, not better.

What I didn’t know is that there are essential oils that are specifically “fragrance grade”. This means two things: 1) they offer absolutely no therapeutic benefits, and 2) they disperse tons of toxins into our air, much like candles and air fresheners. “Fragrance” can basically be read as “hidden chemicals” – and that’s not something we want in our essential oils.

What are essential oils?

Before we dig deeper into quality, let’s define essential oils. These organic compounds are extracted from plants – it’s that simple. The oil can be found in the flower, stem, leaves, bark, or even the fruit of a plant, so when you purchase your essential oil, sniff it to make sure that it actually smells like the plant it’s claiming to be. If your essential oil smells like a dessert, chances are you’re not holding a pure, untouched product.

Essential oils are what we like to call the “lifeblood” of a plant. They protect each plant from disease and provide nutrients to the plant where it’s needed. When this lifeblood is harvested, extracted and distilled with extreme care, each oil can provide several different benefits to us as well!

How to determine quality

So what exactly should you look for when shopping for high-quality essential oils?

1. Purity

As I said, there are countless essential oil companies on the market right now. Sadly, the majority of these companies tamper with their oils during the manufacturing process, adding synthetic chemicals and fillers and removing vital therapeutic value in the process. Some companies water down their oils to get more bang for their buck, while others add harmful ingredients that alter the scent of the oil (which deems them “fragrance grade”). Others still use pesticides and other chemicals while growing the plant itself which, of course, alters the purity of the plant.

When seeking a high-quality essential oil, check out the manufacturer’s website to determine the ingredients they use. If you’re at all skeptical, move on.

2. Transparency

A company’s dedication to transparency says a lot about their products. After a great deal of research, I was fortunate enough to find a company that has made it their number one priority to make 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils, and their commitment to quality is like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard of before. Before you invest in essential oils, take time to do your own research. Find a company that controls the entire process from beginning to end to ensure they leave no room for alterations by third party growers or labs. Ideally, you want to buy from a company that has their own farms, harvests and cares for their own plants, and distills their own oils in their own distilleries. Hint: Young Living is the only company that currently fits this criteria!

Just for fun, I’m going to tell you about a time that Young Living Peppermint oil went out of stock. They rejected over 7,000 kilos of Peppermint simply because it did not meet their standards. Their machinery detected one part per billion of mercury in the batch and they immediately sent it away. Just to put this into perspective, one part per billion is equivalent to one drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool.

3. Cost

To illustrate the cost of quality, let’s take a look at what it takes to create a bottle of pure, unadulterated Rose essential oil. Rose petals themselves are only 0.02% rose oil. To get just one ounce of Rose essential oil, you need 60,000 roses. In other words, for one drop of Rose oil you need 60 roses. And for a five millilitre bottle you would need over 10,000 roses. That’s 22 pounds of roses for one bottle. Add in the cost of distillation, and you’ve got a very high production cost.

Needless to say, higher quality oils cost more. But if you’re truly in the market for quality, don’t let this deter you! A higher cost is a good way to ensure you’re purchasing the oil in its pure plant form, which means it’s safe for you and your kids. When diluted properly, high-quality essential oils can even be used on and around your fur babies! In fact, these therapeutic grade essential oils might even save you a few trips to the doctor’s office and vet clinic, and will save you money on conventional medications. Don’t get me wrong – modern medicine certainly has its place. But if you can use alternatives to help naturally support your body, why wouldn’t you?

High-quality essential oils are truly magical. They have made a huge impact on my life and in our home, enabling us to experience stronger, healthier bodies and happier minds. And who doesn’t love that?

For more information on essential oils and natural, non-toxic living, please visit my instagram page at @sarabirin. I’m here to share my wellness journey and help others along the way! Ready to invest in quality? Buy your Young Living Essential Oil starter kit!