How to REALLY Know if Your Essential Oils Are Pure

The information provided in this post is for information purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

With so many Essential Oil Companies on the market, how can you be sure that you are REALLY buying Pure Essential Oils? Get the facts here.

Since I wrote my series on finding the best essential oils for my family, the question that I get asked most frequently is “What do you think about XYZ essential oils company?” or “Is ABC essential oils company selling essential oils that are pure?”

When I first started using essential oils, I thought that essential oils were a scam.  But after my thinking changed on that, I found that essential oils work and discovered a lot of life-changing ways to use essential oils in our home.

However, things quickly got to be very confusing.  Quality claims of all kinds were all over the place and I didn't know how to sort through them.

And it's only become more and more confusing as time has gone on and the marketplace has become completely glutted.  Seriously–have you noticed that everyone and their brother (and sister) are selling essential oils these days?  It's a mess out there.  Daily I get emails and comments from readers asking me about essential oils.  Typically they are responding to the information in my series on finding the best essential oils for my family, and they want to know what I think about ABC or XYZ company–whether they are quality oils or not.

Every company out there makes claims about their oils being great.

“Our oils are the best that there is!”
“100% Pure Essential Oils”
“Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils”
and it goes on and on.

In this post on Essential Oil Myths about Purity, I talked about many of the untruths that are circulating around regarding how to know if your essential oils are pure. And there are a lot of them.

Today, I'm going to share with you the truth.

No nonsense. No hype. Just pure scientific fact.

With so many Essential Oil Companies on the market, how can you be sure that you are REALLY buying Pure Essential Oils? Get the facts here.

How to Find Pure Essential Oils

So if the claims that I laid out in the Essential Oils Myths about Purity post aren't how you can know if you have pure essential oils or not, then how do you know?  When you walk into a store or shop online, how can you know that you really are buying pure essential oils and not cheaper oils masquerading as the real thing?

First and foremost, you need to know that the oils have been tested.

And by testing, I don't mean putting them on a piece of paper or coffee filter, smelling them, or putting them in your freezer to see if they freeze or not. Unfortunately, you need to have the oils tested using something called GC/MS testing (short for Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry). I bet you don't have the capability to do this in your home.  Well, you could buy a GC/MS machine for yourself to have in your home, but it will set you back a pretty penny or two.

And even if you did decide to buy the necessary equipment, you would have to know how to interpret the resulting information from the tests. So we have a problem.

So you have to have the testing done elsewhere, by someone whom you can trust.

Luckily, many companies are having this testing done now since the marketplace is demanding it. However, there is a lot more to it than just buying from a company that states on its website that it does GC/MS testing.

Here's what else you need to look for.

1. Batch GC/MS Testing

A company should first test a sample of the oil that they wish to purchase.  Then, upon receiving that oil in bulk, they should test the bulk batch to make sure that the oils that they sampled matches the oil that they purchased.

GC/MS testing is known as the gold standard test for essential oils.

The reason why batch testing is important is that it would be very easy for a seller to send a sample to a buyer. Then the buyer tests the sample and verifies that it is pure.  The seller then, instead of the original sample, could send an adulterated large batch of essential oils to the buyer.  If the buyer doesn't test the large batch, who's to say that the batch is exactly the same as the sample?

And if a company simply “trusts” their suppliers, how do they know that a seller won't get misled or decide to do something shady at some point?  I have heard from companies that have had this very problem.  They bought from “trusted” suppliers only to later test oils and found that some were tainted.  And I had been using some of these oils in my home :(. You might have them there too.

2. 3rd Party Testing

Ideally you want to go with a company that has a 3rd party testing their oils.  In house testing might be accurate but there is a conflict of interest when a company tests its own essential oils, so 3rd party validation is important.

Think about it.  If a company does the GC/MS testing in house, then it would be quite tempting to simply alter a test to make it state whatever you want it to say.  Better to have a 3rd party's name on the test to insure unbiased results.

3. Organoleptic  Testing

The term “organoleptic” means “acting on or involving the use of organs.”  When talking about essential oils, the term means to examine the essential oil using sight, smell, taste, and touch.

An experienced aromatherapist should examine the essential oil and see if there is anything odd regarding the oil's smell, consistency, or color.

It is important to note, however, that just because an essential oils smells different than it did before, or different than another brand of essential oils, does not mean that one of them is not pure.  Essential oils can smell different from batch to batch based on growing conditions, and other factors.  Plus, trusting your nose just isn't smart.  It's not trained and it could be wrong.

4. Chemist's Signature on GC/MS Report

Every GC/MS test that you see should have a chemist's signature on it. This guarantees the authenticity of the test plus it gives a contact name that you can use should you have concerns about the test results.

Test results of all kind can be manipulated.  I have heard stories about how companies are doing this frequently and it's enough to make you crazy.  Ideally, you want a copy of the original GC/MS test with the signature on it to prevent this kind of fraud.

There are some labs that have a chemist's name on it, rather than a signature. However, most chemists, due to their being liable for the results, would prefer that their signature be on the report as an added measure of security.

6. Refractive Index Test

The Refractive Index (RI) measures the speed at which light passes through an essential oil.  The RI is a unique number that shows how the oil responds to and bends light.  Basically it shows how the speed of light is changed as it passes through an essential oil.

After measuring the RI of a batch of an essential oil, that number can be compared to the RI of a reliable sample. When an essential oil has been adulterated, the RI of that oil will differ from that of the reliable sample.

6. Nitrogen Barrier

The nitrogen barrier is a possible additional step to take to ensure stability of essential oils.

When an essential oil bottle is opened, air enters the bottle.  When oxygen mixes with essential oils, the oil begins to oxidize. So when an essential oils company gets a large batch of an essential oil and they pour some off to bottle it up into smaller bottles, the remaining oil will start oxidizing.

One way to prevent this from happening is to put nitrogen into the bottle to take up the space that the oxygen would otherwise maintain.  This is referred to as having a nitrogen barrier.

Conclusion

So there you have it.  It's a lot of information but it's real information.  Not the nonsense that you see in other places.

Again, you simply can't know that a company is selling pure essential oils by reading a label or putting your essential oils on a a piece of paper, or sticking them in the freezer.  And your nose doesn't “know.” You need hard and fast testing.  And you need to have access to the results of that testing.

Plain and simple.

If you are interested in finding out where I buy my essential oils from, you can go to read this series that I wrote when I went on a hunt for The Best Essential Oils.  Or you can skip the end to read my choice for where I choose to buy my essential oils.

With so many Essential Oil Companies on the market, how can you be sure that you are REALLY buying Pure Essential Oils? Get the facts here.

Free Essential Oils Report & VIP Newsletter Access

Also, if you go and grab my Free Report on 10 Things to Know About Essential Oils Before You Buy, you will not only get more myth-busting essential oils information, but you'll get access to my VIP newsletter as well–complete with updates, great healthy living offers, of course new posts on essential oils, and more.

Whenever there's a great deal on essential oils (or other healthy living deals) I let my readers know about it–believe me, you won't want to miss out!

Wondering about essential oils? I sure was. Get this guide to buying the best essential oils from a mom blogger who dug deep into the industry to find out what's really going on. Fascinating information including some real debunking that saved me a ton of time and money.

I'm still studying and learning and will be sharing more down the road so stay tuned for more essential oils post.  And if you like healthy recipes and other healthy information, I'll be sharing that too :)!


What brand of essential oils do you buy?
Do you think they are pure now that you know all of this?

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.

Comments

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  1. Adrienne, where can I buy a high quality turmeric oil? RMO and NYR do not sell it.

  2. How about numa?

  3. Greetings! I am fascinated reading all your comments about oils. The things that the majority of MLM companies atribute theirs as better. I am buying NOW pure oils. It is very difficult to know, to believe, to trust which company outhere is honest. Organic, pure, cold press, unrefined? Don’t know! Make them home? Very expensive! I am a believer, and I think next step pray and follow the Holly Ghost that never fail, because reading your testimonies are not right answers. Thank you and good lock!

  4. Rebecca Grabill says:

    I’ve been using Plant Therapy and liking it, but they recently introduced a “New! Exciting!” 2.5 ml size at close to the price the 5ml used to be. So I’m looking into Healthy Traditions. So far it looks AMAZING!

    I’ll put up with an MLM company for something like Norwex, but for oils it bugs me. Maybe because of the almost religious fanaticism some reps have had, and some of the truly absurd claims (yeah, I rub my pans clockwise when I use them to “activate” the cast iron, too — HAHAHAHAHAA!). They’re oils, people, not talismans.

    • Hi Rebecca. I saw their announcement. What oils are you seeing that are really close in price for the 2.5 and 5 ml bottles?

      I agree with the “over the top” claims of many Direct Sales companies. It can just be too much. Cast iron activation? I’m a little lost on that one – explain please. Is there someone making that kind of claim? It wouldn’t surprise me….

      • No, no, Adrienne, I was referring to the claim that oils can be “activated” if rubbed in a clockwise direction (or counter? I forget. Maybe it was a “Z” like Zoro). I was using an analogy to point out the ludicrousness of it. Sorry folks, your oils don’t know which direction you’re rubbing them.

        The Blue Tansy I think was one I’d been looking at, and the 2.5 ml wasn’t 1/2 the price of the 5ml (which it *should* be if you’re getting 1/2 the amount!).

        • I have never heard that. How nuts. I have more to come on this issue.

          As for the Blue Tansy – it’s 20.95 for the 2.5 and 39.95 for the 5 ml. Seems to be appropriate to me?

  5. I buy most of my oils from RMO but I think it would be Great if you would print the 5 or 10 best Companys to
    Buy from that you think have the best oils. I think you would do you readers a Great service. Because a lot of
    us have to buy cheaper oils to survive.

    • Hi Joe – I really appreciate that and that’s a great suggestion. Unfortunately it’s a hard one to answer. My list today would be very different than it would have been years ago. In fact, I don’t use as many oils now as I did years ago so I think one of the best things to do is to be very judicious in your use of oils by making sure to dilute them well. That way you still get sufficient effectiveness but you spend less money. Does that help?

      • A lot of people have come to rely on you and I think you would be doing them a good favor. Because I think
        A lot of people would like to know if they are spending their money in the right place. Unles their is some
        reason you can’t.

        • I really appreciate that. One issue has been time. I spent a lot of time this past year investigating more companies. One of them literally took hours and hours. I thought that I would be recommending them, but then later they admitted in an email that they had started testing their oils and they came back w/ some of them having synthetics in them — including some USDA certified organic oils. So something was really wrong. I homeschool and have 2 kids w/ special needs and have my own health to look after so I can’t spend that kind of time researching companies only to have that happen. So I thought having this kind of resource might be better. I may change that in the future but right now I can’t afford the time. I hope that makes sense.

  6. Joanne Peterson says:

    Thank you Adrienne, this is very good information, and I had no idea how to determine if the company’s essential oils are a good product. This is useful!

  7. I have d?TERRA and have the ability to sell it, but I don’t care for MLM companies. I have found that I really like Plant Therapy. Fabulous Frannies is alright. I have some NOW, but haven’t had much occasion to use it at this point; it’s the brand my cousin swears by.

    • I think Direct Sales are good if you have a good products and an ethical company. But I know for many of them that is not the case. Thanks for reading!

    • jenniferny says:

      I also use Plant Therapy Essential Oils. I have always liked that each batch has its test results posted right on the oil’s page. I do not like MLM company essential oils. Even IF they are a good quality, by the time the consumer buys the oil 3, maybe 4 people have taken a slice of the profit pie which is most likely why MLM company essential oils are ridiculously expensive.

      • Hey there.

        I just wanted to point out that while it is true that with Direct Sales that others take a slice of the pie, in retail that happens as well. Think about sales people who get paid, store managers, the store front (if they have one), website (if they have one), advertising (of course many direct sales companies do advertising too, so it depends on how much)…Google ads…..Facebook ads. It all adds up. I think that Direct Sales can be a valid kind of business and that it can even be sustainable. But it all depends on the company, the product and the representatives. In fact, I have found some retail products to cost more than their Direct Sales counterparts :).