Purity, Adulteration & Testing
Essential oils vary markedly in their quality. Here are some of the factors that affect essential oil quality.
Therapeutic or Industrial Use?
Only about 5% of the total global production of essential oils is ultimately destined for therapeutic use. Most essential oil production is bound for the fragrance or flavour industries, washing powder, etc, and (let's be clear about this) they have less exacting standards of purity. This means that if the oil is sourced from a middleman who supplies these industries, it is quite unlikely that the oil will be of therapeutic quality.
Industrial production generally attempts to obtain a specific standardized reproduceable note of fragrance, or an identical active ingredient. These oils will generally not appear in price lists under a specific botanical name. The reason for this is that those oils are produced either from different species of lesser value, from mixed crops or from mixing with synthetic components.
For therapeutic use we want to have a pure, clean unadulterated oil with a good energy value and a clear fragrance. The more exact the description of the essential oil, the less risky it is for the buyer to purchase an unwanted product. A company who can inform its customers about its oils shows that it is better connected to the plant source and therefore the chances of adulteration are minimized.
For the sake of transparency and clarity, we labels our Oshadhi essential oils with their:
- exact botanical name
- country of origin
- part of plant used for distillation
- mode of cultivation
- major biochemical compounds.
Sourcing Direct from the Grower
In order to ensure the above points are adhered to, a good aromatherapy company has no choice other than to source essential oils direct from the grower/supplier, and to build a close relationship with those farmers who cultivate healing plants to the highest standards. Through this personal contact we know that they practise methods of cultivation which are in accordance with the natural laws of the land, and that they utilize methods of distillation which do not damage the pure essences from the plants.
Requirements for Therapeutic Use
All oils for therapeutic use should be unadulterated 100% pure natural products. This means no chemical additives; no diluting with alcohol or thinning with other oils should occur, unless necessary for certain purposes (i.e. access to the product because too solid, or specifically for the creation of new products, blends, etc.) Essential oils should not be peroxidized, decolorized, nor deturpenated.
The most common methods of adulterating essential oils are:
- Dilution with vegetable carrier oils, alcohol and synthetic oils (which are cheaper).
- Blending with cheaper oils of the same plant but from another country. For example: Bourbon Geranium with Geranium from China; Moroccan Myrtle with Myrtle from the Balkans; Siberian Fir with Chinese Fir, etc.
- Mixing with cheaper essentials oils of the same plant but extracted from a different part of the plant. For example: Clove bud with Clove leaves; Cinnamon bark with Cinnamon leaf; Angelica root with Angelica leaf...
- Dilution with cheaper essential oils of plants of similiar species. For example: Thyme (thymus vulgaris) with wild Thyme (thymus mastichina); Lavender with Lavandin; Ceylon cinnamon with Chinese Cassia;
- Adulteration with cheaper essential oils of different plants or of species with a similiar name. For example: East Indian with so called 'West Indian Sandalwood' (Amyris); Lemongrass with Litsea; Patchouli with Eucalyptus; Verbena with Lemongrass; Frankincense with turpentine; Rosewood with Ho oil; Melissa with "Indian Melissa" (Lemongrass etc.); Clary sage with Lavender; Mandarin with Orange; The so called 'white' Thyme with turpentine...
- Mixing with isolated natural or (semi-) synthetic compounds. For example: Lemon with citral and Orange-terpenes; Peppermint with menthol; Eucalyptus with cineol; Geranium with geraniol or citronellol; Patchouli with clove bud terpenes; Rosemary with camphor; Thyme with thymol or carvacrol; Cardamon with terpenyl acetate; Elemi with Orange terpenes; Clary sage with lynalyl acetate or synthetic linalool; Clove bud with eugenol...
Testing for purity
It is important to perform careful laboratory testing for purity using gas chromatography and - if necessary - mass spectrography. This guarantees that all our essential oils are 100% pure. Comprehensive analyses and quality controls, supported by on-going state-of-the-art laboratory tests, are prerequisites in the selection of the Oshadhi products. This includes tests such as:
- Optical rotation
- Gas chromatography analysis
- And, if necessary, mass spectrography