Where to Buy the Best Essential Oils – Part One
A couple weeks ago we discussed where to obtain the best dried herbs. But what about essential oils? It’s a lot easier to make a judgment about herbs, but choosing where to purchase oils can be a daunting process. There are so many companies out there, each making the claim that their oil is of the purest, highest quality available. Who has the time to dig beneath the surface for the truth, or even know the right questions to ask?
For those of you who just need a place to start, below is a short comparison of six different oils companies. Several of these may be familiar to you. There are many more out there, and I wish it was feasible to cover them all. In fact, I wish I had more time to completely unpack the few included here! I have barely scratched the surface, but hopefully the information offered in this brief comparison will aid you in choosing the right essential oils for your family or, at the very least, spur you on to do further investigation for yourself.
For our essential oils comparison I chose to evaluate Citrus sinensis or “orange” oil, one of the least expensive oils on the market. While all true essential oils are steam-distilled, citrus oil is an exception. Citrus oils are extracted by cold-pressing the peel, and the oil is then filtered to eliminate most of the plant matter.
Our orange oil was purchased from six different oils companies: DoTerra, Young Living, Mountain Rose, Native American Nutritionals, Heritage Essential Oils, and J&M Botanicals. You can see each of these oils represented below.
So, why are the colors different?
As you can tell from the picture, these Citrus sinensis oils were not all the same color. When I contacted each company for an explanation, I received several different replies.Two companies said the shade of the oil is due to the color of the orange peel:
- One claimed it can vary depending on the region the orange is grown
- The other stated that shades of the same oil can even vary from season to season
Another company informed me that the shade of the oil may be due to environmental factors, including weather and soil conditions, moisture content, and bug activity at the time the plants were harvested.I was told by another company that, as a general rule, less color in the oil may indicate better filtering, but orange oil should always have an orange color.
Still another company explained to me that some of the waxes from the rind are also extracted during expression, and since these waxes do not separate out of the oil, they can become concentrated at the bottom of a storage container. The result is a lighter, clearer oil if tapped from the top of the container and a darker shade of oil from the bottom.
Let’s talk essentials…
If your head is swimming (like mine was), let’s just stick to the “essentials” about essential oils.
Like real food, a truly pure essential oil is one that is additive-free and remains in its natural state for the best medicinal value. This means the oil should not be mixed with synthetics to enhance fragrance. For example, some peppermint oils may smell sharp, minty, and delicious enough to eat, while a peppermint scent with an herb undertone more accurately reflects a true oil in its purest form.Along these lines, it is also imperative to avoid oil with pesticides and other toxic chemicals, which themselves are usually oil soluble.
While we know that the citrus peel acts as a barrier to pesticide and makes eating a non-organic orange safe, it is crucial that our orange oil comes from an organic-certified source, especially since the peel is where this essential oil is concentrated.
Essential oils should also be sourced from the plant’s indigenous location. However, whether grown indigenously or from traditional farms, the important thing is that genetically-modified plants be avoided and sustainable farming practices be employed without the use of toxic fertilizers and pesticides.Unfortunately, as Valerie Ann Worwood writes in her book Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child:
Many essential oils sold today are not what they seem. They could be chemical copies made to mimic the aroma of a particular essential oil. Or, they could be industrial quality essential oils that are too old to have any therapeutic qualities left. They might be pure oils, but already diluted in a vegetable oil […].
All of the the six companies listed above claim purity and organic status for most, if not all, of their oils. So how do we make a distinction between them?
Read Part Two of this series to see which company gets our vote for best essential oils!
Have you used essential oils before? Which are your favorites?