How to buy essential oils

Here are some of the Do's and Don'ts... Excellent reminders for all!

 

  

Do

Beware of ingredients as "fragrance oil,” “nature identical oil,” or “perfume oil.”
These words indicate that the item is not a pure, essential oil. Many vendors label fragrance oils (combinations of chemicals with essential oils or just plain chemicals) and perfume oils as “aromatherapy.” Beginners need to watch out for these vendors who inaccurately use the alternative medicine and holistic terms such as aromatherapy for their own sales gain.

Don't

Be overly impressed by labels reading “pure essential oil”.
This term is overused and says nothing about the distillation process/quality, quality of the crops it came from, storage environment, or handling methods. The term “pure essential oil” is also a term overused in the aromatherapy industry. Pure essential oils can be distilled from poor quality crops, be sitting in someone’s inventory or on a store’s shelves for years, be stored in a way that damages the oils, or be mishandled by vendors so that oils are accidentally mixed during bottling. So, don't get overly impressed by a vendor that labels their oils as "pure."

Do

Be mindful of labels that read "therapeutic grade" or "aromatherapy grade." There is actually no governmental authority or governing body that grades essential oil.
Not all vendors/companies use these terms with deception in mind, but some do. Either way, there is no such thing so be cautious of suppliers that promote their essential oils in this way. When considering a supplier, ignore their use of the terms and use the other tips in this article to determine whether you want to shop with them. Or even better: communicate this to them and encourage them to no longer use this misleading terminology.

Don't

Avoid buying essential oils with a rubber eyedropper bulb in the top  
Avoid buying essential oils that have a rubber eyedropper bulb in the top because the oil can dissolve the rubber dropper and become contaminated.

Do

Be Leery of vendors selling products in plastic or clear glass containers.
Most vendors selling quality oils at sizes of 4 oz. or smaller sell their oils in dark colored glass. Be leery of vendors that sell oils at these sizes in plastic or clear glass containers.

Don't

Purchase from vendors that don't display the botanical name.
Avoid buying oils from catalogs or websites that don’t list the essential oil’s botanical (Latin name), country of origin or method of extraction. With this information lacking, it is highly doubtful the vendor is truly knowledgeable on their products quality. For instance, there are multiple varieties of Bay, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, and so on. Each has 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 (i.e. Rose oil - Is it steam distilled or is it an absolute?) Any good aromatherapy vendor should realize the necessity for providing this information, so it only stands to reason that vendors who don’t bother to include it are lazy, unknowledgeable about the importance of supplying this information, or they buy their oils from different distributors and don’t want to have to update their catalogs/web sites anytime they find a different source.

Do

Watch out for vendors that sell all their oils for the same price.
This doesn’t always mean the oils are not pure or of good quality, but it often does. For example, Neroli, Jasmine and Rose, should cost a lot more than geranium and YlangYlang. A good quality patchouli usually costs more than eucalyptus. The basic citrus oils including sweet orange oils are some of the least expensive oils. So if an aromatherapy vendor is selling their oils for the same price or with only slightly varying prices, it's highly unlikely their oils (especially the more rare/expensive ones) are of reputable quality.

Don't

Avoid being tempted to buy the lowest costing essential oils.
Most of us need to watch how much we spend and it’s very tempting to buy essential oils from companies that sell them for the lowest price. However, price (just like fine wine) can be an indication of the quality. Knowledgeable vendors who spend countless hours locating quality oils, pay the expensive fees to test their oils and provide samples for a nominal fee (even free in some cases) upon request. It's these knowledgeable vendors that rightfully charge more for their oils than retailers who stock oils that they’ve sourced from the cheapest suppliers.

Do

Ask questions! With online vendors, send an e-mail asking questions that you have.
If you don't have any questions, think of something…anything to invoke a little dialogue. If you are comparing online vendors, send e-mail to them asking questions that you have. If you don't have any, think of something to ask so that you have a reason to write them. Find out how helpful and knowledgeable they seem. One of my biggest irritations/observations about aromatherapy vendors is that very few have good quality oils as well as good customer service.

Don't

Be careful about buying essential oils from companies that primarily sell to food & beverage or perfumery industries.


These oils are often re-distilled – removing and/or even harming the therapeutic properties for which you are purchasing them. Some vendors that primarily sell to these industries may have different goals in the purchase and sale of their essential oils than the goals of vendors that sell oils specifically for aromatherapy use. The restaurant and perfumery industries desire essential oils that have a standardized (consistent) aroma or flavor. The oils sold by these sources may be re-distilled to remove or add specific constituents (natural chemicals found in the oils). These re-distillations or adulterations can harm the therapeutic use of the oils. If desiring to buy from such a vendor, inquire first to ask about their methods.

Do

Look for vendors who promote that they test all their oils.
These vendors will typically supply samples for a small fee that you can try before buying your larger sizes. It's also important that they'll usually give you confidence in their knowledge (often by providing detailed information on each oil they sell and provide other aromatherapy information that instills confidence).

Don't

Avoid buying essential oils from vendors at street fairs, craft shows,festivals, farmers markets, and other limited-time events, etc.


Many of these sell various products simply as a hobby and aren’t nearly as knowledgeable. And they also may, unfortunately, have in mind that their customers have no recourse once the event is over. This is not to say that there are not highly reputable sellers at such events, but this is a caution for any and all who are not able to reliably judge quality at first.

Do

When choosing vendors, place a small initial order (and request a few samples). But keep in mind that some vendors have to charge a small fee due to the numerous requests they receive.


Due to the great lengths quality vendors go to in order to locate quality oils you should expect to pay a small fee for each sample you request. Be realistic, don't ask for a sample of everything, honestly ask for maybe 2-4 samples of oils that you are sincerely interested in purchasing). The goal is to find out if this is a vendor that you are pleased with without wasting your money on large orders that you might not be happy with. It is costly and time consuming for vendors to provide samples and some vendors receive an overwhelming number of requests for samples. Some vendors do need to charge a small fee for providing samples, and this should not reflect poorly on the vendor.