How to choose good quality essential oils?

Published on : 24 March 20206 min reading time

How to choose the right essential oils given the vastness of the current market: internet, organic shops, pharmacies, markets, stores etc..? How to make sure of the quality of these last ones?

The use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes requires that you choose good quality products, several criteria must be checked before purchase. Many essential oils stores like those you can find via for instance, offer a wide variety of products and advisors who can advise you on the choice according to your needs.

The packaging of essential oils

Essential oils are fragile aromatic substances that are very sensitive to light and heat. It is essential that they are well preserved and protected at all times.

It is therefore necessary to choose an essential oil packaged in a tinted glass bottle. This is a prerequisite for a quality essential oil.

It is also advisable to choose a small bottle to avoid degradation of the essential oil as it is used. Essential oils are also sensitive to air.

Essential oils without pesticides

As essential oils are highly concentrated in active molecules, it is essential that the raw materials used come from organic farming or wild harvesting. The growing conditions of these plants must be respectful: no use of toxic phytosanitary products.

It is not uncommon for the conventional cultivation of citrus fruits to resort to various chemical treatments: pesticides, waxes, preservatives, and yet it is the peel of these fruits that is used in the process of extracting the essence.

If the active molecules from the peel of citrus fruits are extracted, the same applies to the active substances of pesticides present on the peel of the fruit. A significant amount of harmful and toxic products are then concentrated in the extracted citrus essential oil.

The use of a poor quality essential oil can have a considerable impact on our health, so we should not overlook organic products.

In order to ensure that the essential oil is “organic” the bottle must bear the inscription “AB” or the logo of European organic agriculture. Some essential oils are simply labelled “organic”, without any official label. These are to be avoided, as the quality specifications of these essential oils are unknown.

However, selecting an organic essential oil is not enough to ensure the quality of the essential oil as whole, other criteria are important.

Pure and natural essential oils

The chosen essential oil must be 100% pure, why pure? Simply because some manufacturers do not hesitate to mix different essential oils together in order to lower the cost of raw materials.

The typical case is the essential oil of rose, it happens that this essential oil is cut with essential oil of geranium (its flowery smell is similar to that of the rose). Therefore, check that the inscription 100% pure is present on the label of the essential oil.

The essential oil must also be labelled “natural”, i.e. it must be chemically unmodified (not discoloured, not peroxidised, not deterpenated, not rectified by adding solvent after distillation). The essential oil must also not contain synthetic products. Beware of home perfumes found in home decoration stores, they are indeed synthetic perfumes, nothing to do with essential oils.

Of 100% complete or integral essential oils

The essential oil from the plant must be extracted in the most respectful way possible.

Thus the distillation must be carried out at low pressure to respect the integrity of the essential oils.

This extraction process must be carried out over time, which allows all the aromatic fractions to be obtained. The most volatile chemical compounds will tend to come out first and the less volatile ones last, hence the usefulness of carrying out the distillation over an extended period of time.

At present, different types of ylang-ylang essential oils can be found on the market: ylang-ylang I, ylang-ylang II, and ylang-ylang III, these are different aromatic fractions, or the distillation has been carried out in a partial manner.

Each of them has a different chemical composition with a majority aromatic substance. One can also find the essential oil of ylang-ylang “totum” or “complete” which contains all the chemical compounds from the ylang-ylang flower.

It is preferable to position your choice towards an essential oil of ylang-ylang “totum” which alone contains the 3 aromatic fractions.

This ylang-ylang “totum” essential oil has the advantage of possessing more medicinal virtues than the other independent fractions.

Chemo-type and denomination of the essential oils so as not to make a mistake

Check that the name of the plant is written in French as in Latin. This detail, which is not one, can avoid a lot of confusion! The Latin name is international, which makes it possible to obtain a specific essential oil without naming errors in another country.

Having an essential oil with the simple inscription “essential oil of thyme” is insufficient.

For example, there are 7 varieties of thyme vulgar (thymol, thujanol, carvacrol, linalol, alpha terpineol, geraniol, and paracymene). This is the chemotype or biochemical specificity. And each of these essential oils of thyme vulgaris treats different pathologies (some therapeutic properties may be common).

Another important mention is the part of the plant that is distilled. Indeed an essential oil can be obtained from roots, leaves, stems, flowering tops, bark, seeds, etc..

One can for example find essential oil from cinnamon bark or cinnamon leaves. Depending on the part of the plant distilled, the properties of the essential oil are then different because the chemical composition differs.

Moreover, one can also find the mention “EOBD” on the bottles, which means “chemically and botanically defined essential oil”.

Other quality criteria for essential oils

Other criteria are taken into account for the most demanding ones, such as the geographical origin of the raw materials used for the production of essential oils, the cultivation method, the data relating to the control and analysis of the essential oils produced the extraction process, batch number, use-by date, etc.

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