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3 ways to verify the purity of your essential oil (and why it's important!)

Believe it or not, an essential oil labeled as “pure”, may not necessarily be pure at all! Read on to find out what purity means in the essential oil world and 3 foolproof ways to verify the purity of your essential oil. 

Pure and potent essential oils can have a powerful effect on our state of health and well being. From addressing physical ailments and mental/emotional states to simply using them as a natural alternative for cleaning and cooking, a few drops of these amazing oils really go a long way. This article will show you what to look for in order to get the highest and most therapeutic quality essential oil. 

WHAT EXACTLY IS A PURE ESSENTIAL OIL? 

Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts from various parts of plants
In fact they are the most potent form of a plant — that is why essential oils are generally 50-70% more potent than a herbal equivalent. For example you might have to drink 28 cups of peppermint tea to get the equivalent benefit of one drop of pure therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil. 

Pure essential oils come from plants ideally grown in their native environment, without herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals. 
Through either steam distillation or cold pressing, the aromatic chemical constituents (components) of a plant are extracted and bottled. Nothing else is added and nothing is altered. So a pure essential oil has no fillers, additives or synthetic compounds. 

WHY IS PURITY SO IMPORTANT?

When we want to use essential oils for therapeutic purposes — to heal, balance and restore our body, including its physical and mental/emotional aspects — we need to have access to absolutely pure essential oils, sourced directly from nature and left exactly as nature intended. 

Our human cells will interact with a pure essential oil in a different way than if the chemical structure of that essential oil has been altered by additives.
 
Today’s scientific advances have made it possible for chemists to duplicate some chemical components of an essential oil, but not all components. Not every component that nature produces has been discovered or duplicated yet. 

If you are going to invest in essential oils to support your health, you will want the essential oils to work as promised or intended. Purity is one aspect that will help you ensure that you are getting the results you are looking for. 

As a health practitioner I have had many clients tell me that they have shelves of various health products which don’t seem to make any difference at all. It can be the same with essential oils. Often its not that we have the wrong solution for our ailment, but rather that the solution is of substandard or impure quality. As a result our bodies do not respond appropriately to that product. 
In their pure potent form, essential oils will do their intended job, just like in its pure potent form a vitamin B complex or a mineral supplement will do its intended job. 

WHAT DOES THE LABEL “PURE” REALLY MEAN?

Sadly there are a lot of subpar quality products and misleading marketing campaigns out there, and not just in the essential oil world. This especially becomes a problem when a certain industry is poorly regulated, which is the case when it comes to essential oils. 

Buying an essential oil labeled as “pure” means little more than that there is some version or amount of that particular oil in it. 
  • It does not mean that the essential has no fillers added to it. 
  • It does not mean that the essential oils has no synthetic compounds added to it. 
  • It does not mean that the essential oil contains only that particular essential oil. 
Since regulations and industry standards of essential oils are currently limited, it is up to you, the consumer, to do your own homework. When evaluating an essential oil, you need to know what to look for on the label and what questions to ask the supplier. 

3 FOOLPROOF WAYS TO TELL IF AN ESSENTIAL OIL IS PURE 

Here are the three ways to tell if your essential oil is pure. Ensuring that all three conditions are met will give you the best chance to obtain a high quality, therapeutic grade essential oil. 

  1. The essential oil has an expiry date and a batch number. In most countries, any type of health product is now legally required to have an expiry date, so this should be a given. Since essential oils are distilled and bottled in batches, one batch could vary drastically from another batch, even if it comes from the same supplier. 
  2. Clear directions for use are listed on the label. Essential oils that are safe for internal use will specifically say “for dietary or internal use” or have a “supplements facts” section on the label. For example, peppermint and turmeric are plants with health promoting properties when ingested. Likewise the essential oil extracts of these plants should also be safe for internal use. If your bottle of peppermint essential oil states “Do not use internally”, chances are that the supplier can’t verify its purity and therefore some of the other unlisted ingredients/additives in the bottle may make the essential oil unsuitable for internal consumption. 
  3. The supplier provides in-house AND third party testing results, verifying the essential oils purity. This is the most important factor to look for. No matter what it says on the label, scientific test results are measurable and will provide an accurate indication of purity. The supplier must provide some kind of bar code or batch # on the bottle of essential oil. The consumer can then compare that batch # or bar code to test results specifically for that batch of essential oil. Transparency on the part of the supplied is key:  if your essential oil supplier does not provide testing results directly for your specific bottle of essential oil, there is no way of you to be certain of the essential oil’s purity.

TESTING FOR PURITY

While essential oil suppliers can and should do extensive in-house testing at multiple stages during the distillation, bottling and distribution process, the ultimate gauge of purity is performed by an independent third party laboratory. 
Some of the tests performed to verify purity are: 
  
  •    Organoleptic testing
  •    Microbial testing
  •    Mass spectrometry
  •    Gas chromatography
  •    Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
  •    Chirality testing
  •    Heavy metal testing
  •    Isotopic analysis
The most transparent suppliers will allow you to check your essential oil’s testing results independently (ie through their website or a third party website). Be weary of verbal confirmation that an oil is pure

As mentioned earlier, with the essential oil industry being poorly regulated at this point, pure can mean many things. What you are looking for in terms of purity is a statement along the lines of “The analysis of [this particular oil] revealed no contaminants or adulteration. The sample meets the expected chemical profile for authentic, essential oils of [species name of the essential oil]”. This statement should come from a third party laboratory and be accompanied with actual test results along with the batch number and date of bottling. 

ASK QUESTIONS

Purity is a cornerstone for an effective, therapeutic grade essential oil. 
The more research you do as a consumer and the more questions you ask, the more confident you will be in having made the right choice. The ultimate goal is to have the best possible essential oil to support your and your family’s health and well-being. 

Resources:

  1.    The Essential Life 5th Edition, Total Wellness Publishing (copyright 2018)
        
  2.    https://www.doterra.com/US/en/cptg-testing-process
        
  3.    https://aromaticplant.org/
        
  4.    https://sourcetoyou.com/en

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