Guides & Articles

How To Test The Purity of Essential Oils

How To Test The Purity of Essential Oils

Last Updated on

Want to know how to test the purity of your essential oils?

Have you ever noticed there are an absolute ton of essential oil companies to choose from? If I had to take a wild guess I would say they’re over 1,000 companies that sell essential oils.

But I want to let you know firsthand that the cheapest option isn’t the best. In fact, it’s safe to say a lot of the cheaper essential oils are not considered high-quality or pure oils.

Sadly, there are a lot of companies that sell essential oils on Amazon.  The problem is a lot of them are not as transparent as you might think.

The essential oil industry really isn’t regulated very well.  The FDA does somewhat regulate the aromatherapy world, which you can read about here.  Additionally, here is a good article by Wendy Robbins at Aromaweb.com that talks about the FDA and their regulations on aromatherapy.

Believe me, I am speaking from experience and I don’t want others to fall into the trap of spending your hard earned money on less than pure oils.

So how do you know that your essential oils are fake or low-quality? Down below I compiled a list of ways you can ensure the purity of your essential oils is of high-value.

Consider The Container

Essential Oils Glasses

No, I’m not talking about an aesthetically pleasing essential oil bottle. Your essential oils should never be in plastic or clear glass. Plastic is bad because the essential oils can eat through plastic.  I don’t care if it says it’s in a BPA-free plastic bottle, either.  Believe it or not, I have even seen companies sell their essential oils in plastic bottles. Clear bottles are bad because the sunlight can reduce the qualities of your essential oils.

Instead, you need to make sure that your essential oils are in a dark colored glass bottle. Additionally a dark blue glass container will work.

You want to make sure you keep them out of the sunlight.  The sunlight will cause them to lose their purity.  Lastly, you want to store them in a cool place.  Storing them in the refrigerator is a good idea.  When you store essential oils in the refrigerator it doubles their lifespan.

Latin Name Should Be On The Bottle

Lavender Essential Oil Latin Name

A lot of people purchase essential oils online these days.  You can thank Amazon for that and many of the online stores.  Not to mention there are a lot of whole food stores, and even Walmart sells essential oils, now.

Therefore you need to do your due diligence and look at the label. The label should consist of the Latin name of the essential oil.

For example, here are some essential oils and their Latin name:

Lavenders, Latin name is Lavandula angustifolia.

Lemons, Latin name is Citrus x limon.

Peppermints, Latin name is Mentha x piperita.

If the Latin name is not on there it is possible that the oil is just a fragrance or perfume with no aromatherapy healing qualities.

Price Tag

Don’t just buy the cheapest essential oils you can find. I have found this out the hard way and cheaper oils are you usually diluted or mixed with another compound. If it looks too good to be true it probably is. On the other side of the coin, the higher the price doesn’t me the higher the quality. However, a high-quality essential oil usually will come with a higher price tag.

Also, different essential oils are going to be priced differently. For instance, with lavender, it takes 150 pounds of the flower to make one pound of the essential oil. Peppermint essential oil is 250 pounds of the flower to make 1 pound of the essential oil. Therefore, some essential oils are just cheaper than others.

A few examples of cheap essential oil companies you shouldn’t buy from are Green Health ArtNaturls and Radha Beauty.

Harvested & Crafted

Harvesting

Their plants should be harvested in smaller farms. All too commonly companies use big corporate farms and pesticides are commonly found in essential oils. Look for the words “wild harvested” or “wild-crafted”.

A lot of plants are needed to make a bottle of essential oil. Meaning, hundreds of pounds of plants are needed to make a single pound of essential oil.

The harvester needs to have a clear understanding of when and how to harvest a plant. Meaning, different plants like lavender need to be harvested when half of the flowers are on the stem. Meaning that half of it has withered. But, rosemary, on the other hand, should be harvested during full bloom.

Crafting

Most essential oils are steam distilled. However, other means of extraction are used such as cold pressing, and CO2. Heat shouldn’t be used when distilling the essential oils.  Their oils should be slowly extracted from the plant.

Organic

Organic essential oils are better quality than non-organic essential oils.

Don’t get me wrong organic essential oils are going to be free of pesticides. However, just because an essential oil is “certified organic” doesn’t make it pure. Also, organic essential oils should be a little more expensive then oils that are not certified organic.

Organic essential oils should have a USDA seal on the bottle.

Statements On The Bottle

If you see the words “fragrance” on an essential oil bottle it’s not pure.  Companies are sneaky about hiding these words on their bottles.

Also, if it’s 10% with jojoba oil it’s also not a pure essential oil.  It’s been diluted with a carrier oil for topical use.  You shouldn’t ever put an essential oil with a carrier oil in a diffuser.

Each essential oil company brands their product in a certain way. Meaning a lot of companies print “100% pure” on their oils label.  It’s also very common for companies to print the words “therapeutic grade” on their bottles. This doesn’t really mean anything, though.  There is no “grading” system in the industry.  Just a made-up word to trick you into purchasing their essential oils.

Lab Testing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdX_sKIZMKY

The best essential oils tested in a laboratory (by a certified chemist).  Believe it not their chemist that really don’t know what to look for when testing essential oils.

GC/MS Testing

The laboratory testing is called a GC/MS test. It stands for gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This will show you if there are any other substances in the essential oil. Some brands will provide you with a batch number where you can check the purity of your essential oils.

It’s best if they have a third party laboratory checking their essential oils. It’s a quality control measure that shows there customers the purity of their essential oils.

A lot of companies like Plant Therapy will let you view their GS/MS test for their essential oils. As Dr. Robert Pappas (owner of https://essentialoils.org/) has stated the GS/MS test shouldn’t be over 1 year old.  This is a common tactic that a lot of unethical essential oil companies have used. Again, it’s best if it’s tested from a third-party laboratory. These test can scientifically show all the chemicals that are in an essential oil.

Dr. Robert Pappas also runs a website at https://essentialoilanalysis.com/ which he has provided a lot of GC/MS test from a lot of popular essential oils on the market.

Here is an interesting article by wholenewmom.com which talks about the reliability of GC/MS testing.

Believe it or not, some GC/MS test can be adulterated in ways the testing will not show in the results.

Smell Test

Some fake essential oils can actually smell like alcohol when you open it. If you are sampling it in the store and smells like alcohol don’t buy it.

It’s pretty common for people to get headaches when using their synthetic essential oils. The foreign toxins that are in the essential oil can give you a headache so avoid it because it’s probably not pure.

It sounds kind of backward but if you purchase the same kind of oil from the same company the smell shouldn’t always be the same. What I mean by this is if the smell is 100% consistent every time the company might be adding a synthetic chemical to it.

There are a lot of different factors that can influence the scent of your essential oils. For instance, the amount of rain the crop has had, the temperature, soil content, and the duration of the growing season.

The Pour Test

orifice reducer for essential oils

Upon purchasing your essential oils you should take off the cap. You will notice an “orifice reducer.” This is just a fancy name for a plug that controls how quickly the oils come out. The orifice reducer should not be made of rubber. Rubber will release synthetic impurities into your essential oils.

It’s fine to have a plastic orifice reducer. In fact, this is used on many popular and respectable brands of essential oils.

You can always replace your orifice reducer if you’re not happy with the consistency that your essential oil comes out.

Also if your essential oils come with a dropper make sure it’s not made of plastic either. I would only go with a glass dropper. Here is a link to Amazon where you can get droppers for pretty cheap if you don’t already have one.

Also, make sure you put the lid back on your bottle of essential oil.  When oxygen is exposed to the essential oil it reduces the shelf life and purity of your essential oils.

Blot Purity Test

Ok, some people are going to want to tar and feather me for this.

This isn’t the best way to check the purity of essential oils.  The method I am going to show you is a simple blot test.  It might also be referred to as a blotter test, too (I think).  Again, this method is debated, and while companies are getting smarter and smarter at adulterating essential oils, years ago they used to mix them with carrier oils.  Again, a blot test isn’t the most accurate way to check the purity of essential oils.

To do this you’re simply going to need a piece of white computer paper. Also, you can use perfume strips which does work too. What you’re going to do is put a drop of essential oil on the paper. After you do that I use a pencil or pen to draw a little box around it and label the essential oil. For example, lavender by Aura Cacia. Then you should allow 24 hours for the essential oil to dry.

A very cheaply adulterated essential oil will leave a ring behind. Again, it’s an outdated and quick way to check your essential oils for really cheap adulteration.

Some essential oils like sandalwood, German chamomile, vetiver, and patchouli can have a slight tint on the paper. Lastly, the place where you put a drop should not be greasy either.

Here is an example I did on lavender by Aura Cacia (a brand of essential oils I absolutely love!):

Simple Essential Oil Blot Test
As you can see from the before picture there is a drop placed on the paper. After 24 hours it completely disappears and there is no sticky residue.   Also, take note of how long the essential oil smells.  Better quality essential oils will leave a longer and potent smell behind.

Experience

One of the most tell-tell signs of a quality essential oil company is how long they have been in business. Use caution for companies that have only been in business for a couple of years. It seems to be a common trend to start up a company and sell synthetic or adulterated essential oils. Once, people start to catch on either start a new company or change your name.

Simply go to their website and look at their “about us” page.  I understand that every company starts at some point, but make sure you do your due diligence.  Also, feel free to check with the Better Business Bureau and Google the companies name followed by the words “scam, fake, adulterated”.

Reputable Essential Oil Companies

These essential oil companies do sell high-quality essential oils:

Please see my full list of the best essential oil brands at: https://myscentedoils.com/best-essential-oil-brands

Hopefully, this is helped you when trying to decide the purity of your essential oils. As I’ve stated there are a lot of essential oil companies out there. There isn’t a whole lot of regulations put on the industry.

Some of the companies that produce these cheap synthetics or adulterated essential oils aren’t in for the healing properties.  Instead, they are in it for the old mighty dollar.  They don’t care who they rip off as long as they make money at it.

Anyone can put whatever chemicals they want in there and print whatever they want on the bottle. However, if you follow these simple tips you should be able to decide the purity have your essential oils.

Believe me, I have made my share of mistakes when buying essential oils online.  Hopefully, you don’t walk in my shoes and make the same mistakes.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the purity of essential oils down below.

14 thoughts on “How To Test The Purity of Essential Oils

  1. I never knew that the Latin name should be on the bottle, but this is a good tip, so I know that it is legit. We sometimes use essential oils, so this is very good information.

    1. Hey Emmanuel,

      Yeah always make sure the latin name is on the bottle. This is one of the easiest signs that the an essential oil company isn’t doing something dodgy. They could label it essential oil when it’s really just a perfume that they can mark up big time to get insane profit margins.

  2. Very interesting post – I had no idea that you could do some checks to make sure you have great quality essential oils. I have recently started using them frequently in my diffuser, so I’ll certainly use these tips the next time I purchase more oils. Thanks!

    1. Hey Christen,

      Good to see that you found these tips helpful. Don’t be afraid to try out different companies essential oils, either. There are a lot of them to choose from and not all of them are legit and have the same quality guidelines.

  3. I have recently (last 2 years) gotten into essential oils and it seems like I learn something new each day. I just checked all of my oils and they are all in dark bottles and they all have the Latin name on the bottle. So it looks like mine is all legit. Do you have a favorite brand? Most of mine are Doterra.

    1. Hey Wendy,
      There are a lot of good brands to choose from for essential oils. Two that stand out that I love are Plant Therapy and Aura Cacia. Both of those brands make excellent quality essential oils that are priced reasonably. Don’t get me wrong Doterra is quality essential oils, but they are much more expensive.

  4. We usually buy our oils at the store or online so I am glad I came across this post.
    I have been amazed with the power of concentrated oils but I never knew there were so many important things to consider when buying them online!

    Do you have a recommended brand for Lavender?

    Thanks!

  5. I wish I would have read this article before I bought my tea tree oil. The cheapest price is not always the best. I bought mine from Young Living. Are they any good or what are your thoughts on them?

  6. Does it mean the oil is fake if it does have a rubber or plastic “orifice reducer.” ? I’m just getting into essential oils. Just purchased from Artnaturals, Handcraft Blends, and Edens Garden all from Amazon! I’m hoping these are ok. Thank you for this article! Helped immensely.

    1. Hey Stacie,

      It doesn’t mean the essential oil is fake if they use a rubber or plastic orifice reducer. However, they should not use a rubber one because it will put chemicals into your essential oils. Not, to mention it will turn into a blob after awhile. Plastic is the recommended orifice reducer and has been used for several years.

      I would avoid ArtNutrals because they are adulterated essential oil. Edens Garden is a much better option, though.

    1. Hey Gerald,

      Puritan Pride does sell a lot of health products which include vitamins, supplements, herbs, minerals, beauty care, food, and of course essential oils.

      Puritan Pride has a lot of essential oils that they offer. Meaning, they offer oils from several different brands. They sell oils from Aura Cacia, NOW, Spa Room, GuruNanda, etc.

      What I do like about Puritan Pride is they allow you to purchase one bottle of essential oil and get one free. Typically, I buy vetiver from Aura Cacia because I get a bottle free. It’s a great way to save money and get more essential oils.

      They do have a lot of deals from time to time which is great. Shipping is very fast and I really do recommend Puritan Pride for purchasing essential oils.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *