Pure vs. Synthetic
As a facilitator of Essential Oil Wellness Techniques, I believe that the quality of the essential oils that I use is very important. A lot of my clients ask me if there’s a difference between the brands being sold today in stores, online, etc. There is such a wide range from fragrance grade to therapeutic grade. Why would this make such a difference?
Benefits of Pure Essential Oils – you have a therapeutic grade oil that works to support the natural human body. You also have a chemical profile of the chemical constituents that fall within certain parameters. We do not have clear standards set here in North America, AFNOR is a French agency that regulates the quality of French products (including essential oils). We have a “GRAS” (generally regarded as safe) rating for our food grade essential oils. This grade of oil is known to have pesticides/herbicides or other contaminants in them.
But the retail market is flooded with essential oils for sale as the trend continues in popularity. Who do we trust? How do we use them? Does the purity matter if I’m just smelling them?
As with anything you purchase – know your source. If you have a big corporation or big box store – they are most likely wanting a big profit. If a company known for selling the latest with no regard for the ingredients – they will likely sell you improperly packaged essential oils at a very cheap price, assuming you are just smelling them and that won’t hurt you. These cheap smells along with the processes they have undergone, can be extremely toxic to you, your family and your pets.
What makes an essential oil pure?
The Growing Process: The way that a farm cultivates plants for essential oils plays a big role in quality. This includes, the environment they grow in, how the plants are nurtured, the time it takes to grow and how you distill to get your oil (using minimum temperature and pressure – the way it has been done for centuries). Doing something naturally takes more time, it is out of our control and every batch must meet certain criteria. When all of these steps are followed: you have an essential oil ready to be bottled with nothing else added, just pure essential oil. You have captured “nature in a bottle”.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Synthetic Process is very different, there is sometimes an active ingredient from nature used, but many other cheap fillers are added. This process takes place in a lab and is rushed. This causes the oil to be altered from it’s natural state – it may smell nice, but that is all it was manufactured to be. It is not possible to create what has already been created, we must allow nature to make it in its own time and own way, through the plant growth.
Why is it Difficult to Find PURE essential oils?
Availability of Raw Plant Materials: Some plants are very plentiful, ex. lavender, lemongrass, lemon, but others are not. There are other oils that consist of several hundred or thousand pounds to extract just a pound of essential oil. Examples of these oils are: melissa, jasmine and rose. The vast majority of the essential oils are being bought by our perfume industry, solely for their scent. They use high temperatures, high pressure and chemical solvents during the distillation for a greater yield of oil. They just smell good without the chemical constituents necessary for any kind of therapeutic benefits.