Welcome to my letter Q post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I will be talking about quality of essential oils. Does it really matter whether you buy a cheap drugstore brand of essential oil or an expensive brand? Do you need to get all-natural, organic essential oils or are synthetic or non-organically grown plant essences just as good?
The answer, in general, depends on what you want to do with your oils. I mean, if all you want is a nice smell, does it really matter whether your oil is natural or not? I don’t think so, unless you intend on blending your oils. In that case, after all, you’ll really need to know a lot about perfumery. For example, I have tried blending coconut and vanilla fragrance oils and that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped for, despite the fact that the scents seemed to go well together.
If you want to use your oils for their actual therapeutic properties, though, I do recommend you get all-natural oils. Even then, it matters where the oil came from geographically, how the conditions under which it was grown were, what extraction method was used, etc. For example, cold pressing is generally the best extraction method, but this isn’t possible with most oils. Steam distillation is, therefore, second best.
Many lower-quality essential oils have been adulterated in one or more of several ways. For example, thyme essential oil’s constituents may vary from 100% thymol to 90% carvacrol, with some varieties containing citrol or geraniol. Secondly, rose essential oil, for example, is often diluted with geranium.
An essential oil’s constituents can be analyzed using gas chromatography and mass spectometry. These are not methods the average consumer would be able to employ themself, so they must rely on the supplier to have done this analysis. I for one, so far never got these analysis reports. I’m not even 100% sure the vendors I normally buy from, offer them. I, indeed, had to look to a supplier I wasn’t before familiar with to see a random oil’s report to see what it looks like. Guess I’m learning something now that I do this challenge myself.