Why These Oils?

Because ethics and quality DO matter
Not all essential oils are created equal. I choose a brand that invests heavily in understanding and ethically sourcing the best species for their product line. ~Heba

What is quality and why does it matter?

Essential oils contain up to hundreds of different compounds. Just because there are lavender plants grown in many parts of the world, doesn’t mean that they have the same chemical profile. There are many factors that contribute to the quality of an essential oil and the beneficial compounds it carries. Measurements of quality fall under specific categories of genuine (100% natural, 100% pure and 100% complete), authentic, pure, and potent.

Sourcing

When it comes to sourcing, the terrain and soil of origin really do matter. If a field is sprayed with chemicals, the chemistry of the plants will be affected. The distillation process, temperature, and the use of toxic solvents and chemicals for extraction also affect the purity and potency of the essential oil.

The legitimate expression of nature would imply that there are variations in the natural chemistry of plants and therefore the oils too and that’s okay. It’s a beautiful experience when you discover the art of growing, harvesting and distilling essential oils from A to Z. Today, we are so lucky to experience this expression of natural human art, through the wisdom of traditional growers’ passed down through the generations, combined with advancements of science, farming and distillation practices.

Supplier

Your supplier, or chosen trusted brand of essential oils, should be reputable and masters of quality and efficacy. Every oil has specific constituents, which provide different levels of therapeutic effects. Can you imagine sorting through dozens of species of a single plant source, from a myriad of geographical locations, to find the RIGHT combination of therapeutic compounds? Well, this is well and truly one of the suppliers’ greatest tasks: to scour the globe responsibly searching for the highest quality compounds that produce the best possible essential oil – just as nature intended, nothing added, nothing removed.

Quality

A high quality essential oil should be free of fillers, pesticides, synthetics, contaminants or other toxins. You should be getting 100% of the pure oil from the plant. One of the most telling ways to detect pure, high-quality oils is by the aroma. I have cringed at the smell of lavender oils that you get from health food shops or candle stores or even aromatherapy stores. You can really smell the difference when comparing with a true 100% pure Lavender essential oil. The composition varies, some are so diluted you can barely detect any lavender at all, and others I have smelled even have a scent of grass, rather than lavender. Lavender should smell strongly like the lavender plant, not faintly, and certainly not like weeds or grass! Superb aroma is earned and is the result of quality plant sourcing, quality distillation processes, and the absence of chemical solvents. Generally, the more pure and “sweet” an aroma, the greater the purity and the better the sourcing.

To be truly therapeutic and superior grade, an essential oil needs to be tested for quality and the right composition. The terms pure, potent, genuine and authentic are all very important terms in reference to measurements of quality. Let’s examine “authenticity” a bit closer…

Authenticity

The regulation of therapeutic grade essential oils is limited and the standards are often quite minimal. This leaves the supplier to determine the standards they wish to deliver to the market and to self-regulate their standards and quality.

The term “therapeutic grade” is not enough to identify the level of quality. There are different views to this term. On one hand, compromised sourcing is allowed and the addition of synthetic additives is deemed acceptable enough to term the oil “therapeutic grade”. On the other hand, you can take that a notch up and really embody true holistic healing by making sure you are providing unprocessed oils that are sourced directly from nature with nothing added, nothing removed. This is a stricter standard allowing the oils to remain rich and complex, just as nature intended when the plant was created with its own natural defence mechanism. I would expect to pay a higher price for these genuine, authentic, pure and potent superior-grade essential oils.

Process

I like to view quality as a process. It is a process to protect and maintain the highest quality of essential oils. Let me walk you through the process:

  • It all starts with sourcing: the use of a global network of artisans to provide the raw materials used for essential oil production. Where a plant is grown has a major impact on its constitution, which in terms determines its potency.

essential-oils-global-sourcing

  • Then you have the harvesting: plants must be harvested by those who are knowledgeable, honest and committed to gathering the one “specie” allowing the plant proper maturation time.
  • After harvesting, the plant material is ready for distillation. In order to carefully extract the precious constituents, this process has to be conducted gently, slowly and skillfully.

For example, Hawaiian Sandalwood essential oil undergoes a laborious and time-consuming procedure. To collect the oil from the actual wood, the outer layers of the wood are stripped from the heartwood. The heartwood is then chipped, filtered, and then chipped again into finer pieces before undergoing a 36-hour steam distillation process of high pressure and high heat. The whole process requires enormous amounts of fuel, energy, and time, making this exquisite essential oil so valuable. In comparison, the steam distillation process of Peppermint typically takes less than two hours with very low heat and pressure.

hawaiian-sandalwood

Distilling essential oils is a work of art and science. ~Heba

  • Once distillation is complete, the essential oils are now ready to move to distribution companies or to middlemen, known as brokers. As a general rule, the further down the supply chain you go, the less likely you are to get a pure product. Most companies cut corners here because they have no ability (or often no desire) to verify the quality of the oils they receive from their supplier before they pass it on to their customers. Look for a company that works with grassroots communities in the harvesting of the plants sourced from all over the world. Even better if the company is creating industry for those communities by creating new jobs and opportunities where they are needed. By offering teaching, training, capacity-building and coordinated services, these now empowered communities are motivated to improve their growing and harvesting practices and achieve optimal oil yields and ensure sustainability. This in turn leads to higher quality oil and the growers receive fair and predictable pricing from long-term buyer.
A company that is committed to helping health-conscious individuals find safe alternatives while also lifting entire communities and giving them hope for the future is a real winner in my books. ~Heba

Supplier Responsibility

A company’s commitment to 3rd party rigorous quality testing as well as consideration towards sensitivity testing is what ultimately sets them apart from others. They need to be providing quality that’s above and beyond the minimum required. Look for companies that test quality multiple times with multiple and different tests before making the oils available to the consumer.

Remember that essential oils are most dominantly used aromatically and topically, and that your skin and nasal membranes do absorb toxins as well, so essential oils that are adulterated with chemicals and additives can be toxic. It is strongly recommended that you invest in a product that is considered GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) and is labeled according to those standards.

YOUR Personal Responsibility

When it comes to obtaining quality essential oils, I want to emphasise the importance of doing your own research, use common sense, exercise prudence and follow safety dilution guidelines at all times. Do what is best for yourself and your family. Education is key to becoming a skilled user of these potent plant extracts.

If all this makes sense to you and you’re ready to become your own advocate of wellness and incorporate the purest, most ethical essential oils on the planet into your lifestyle, I would love to help you get started!