You’ve heard the terms applied to essential oils so many times: pure, authentic, organic, unadulterated … But what do these phrases really mean, and how can we be sure about the quality of the oils that we use?
You only have to take the lid off a few bottles to notice the difference: some essential oils are brimming with vitality: There’s something about the clarity, the vibration, the subtlety, and the depth and breadth of fragrance that just seems to jump out at you; while others seem dull and lifeless by comparison. Today I’d like to explain in some detail the factors that go to make up the quality of an essential oil.
It all starts with the plant
Think of the difference in the taste of a tomato that has been flown in from Chile in the middle of February with one in August that you’ve just picked from your own garden. They are both tomatoes but there’s no comparison in taste. And in the same way, fairly obviously, there is a huge variation in the quality of an essential oil depending on the plant from which it is produced. Wild growing plants give the best oils, and organically cultivated too. But there’s another factor which is subtle but important, and this is the attitude of the farmer or distiller. This is why Oshadhi oils are sourced from farmers (in some cases farmers’ cooperatives) who are known and who respect nature and the plants that give them their living.
Distillation: These pictures show a small scale artisan distiller of organic essential oils. The last picture shows the product of the process, in this case Helichrysum. They were taken in Provence during an Oshadhi Aromatours visit.
The problem of adulteration
It is not uncommon for dealers and middlemen to ‘bulk out’ the volume of an essential oil by adding to it a chemical which may be naturally present in the oil with a synthetic additive. This will usually show up in the GC (gas chromatography) readout, and there are other ways to test too. But the safest approach is to make sure that the oils come direct from the distiller.
Testing for purity
It is important to carry out careful state-of-the-art laboratory testing for purity and quality control. This includes:
- Optical rotation
- Gas chromatography
- If necessary, mass spectrography
The bottling process
Essential oils have been described as ‘living molecules’ and they are certainly sensitive to biophysical energies. Bottling machines have strong electromagnetic fields and this can negatively impact the gentle energies of the oil.
The power of intention
Plants respond to the gentle intention we put their way, and essential oils are no different. We want to optimise the quality of the intention that creates the finished product at every step of the way from the farmer to the final retailer.
Trust your nose and your intuition
You probably don’t have a GC machine in your garage, but you do have something which in its own way may be superior: your nose. Always trust your nose and your intuition about which oil you should use. They seldom let you down.