essential oils

Standardized vs Authentic Essential Oils

Before I became a certified aromatherapist, I was very frustrated by the large price differences in essential oils from various companies. How could a 2 oz Bergamot sell for $13.38 at a certain online store while another sells for  $42.95 and yet another sells for a whopping $67! And they all claim to be pure therapeutic grade.

We all know that essential oils are extracted from plants using steam distillation, cold press, CO2 extraction or hydrocarbon solvent. Some plants have abundant essential oils while some don’t. It takes 200 pounds of bitter oranges to make 1 pound of Bergamot oil while it takes 60,000 roses to make 1 oz Rose oil!

So here comes the question: how can some companies afford to sell the essential oils so cheap, almost dirt cheap? Please note that this post is not about blatant fraudulent adulteration of essential oils by adding carrier oils, or mixing less expensive oils with expensive oils and sell them as expensive ones or using fragrance chemicals. This post is about a more subtle form of adulteration and allows the companies to call the essential oils “pure therapeutic grade.”

According to Kurt Schnaubelt Ph.D., the leading researcher in Aromatherapy, there are tw forms of essential oils standardization.

adding value giving synthetic component to boost its concentration. For example, ester linalyl was sprayed on lavender plants just before harvesting to guarantee a sufficient concentration in the distilled oil without having to add the substance in a “fraudulent manner” to the finished oil.

cutting – the more or less complete reconstruction of essential oils. Often the substances used in this process are of natural origin so that the finished product can justifiably be called “natural.”

You may ask when to use the standardized oils and what situations call for pure essential oils? After all, pure essential oils are expensive. However, they are worth every penny and a drop goes a long way.

For soap,lotion, candle making and making home cleaning products, standardized oils should suffice. 2 oz Bergamot that sells for $13.38 would be good enough for these products.

If the intention is for treatment on a cellular level, such as treating cough, headaches, stress, the authenticity is desired in order to achieve the most optimum result as well as not to lose faith in true essential oils’ efficacy. The $67 per 2 oz is the one you want to use!

If you are using essential oils for babies and children, it is ever so more important to purchase the authentic oils from a reliable source.

How do you know if the company sources their products and purchases in small batches directly from producers?

GC/MS report is the way to go.

GC – gas chromatography is a method of separating volatile compounds.

MS – mass spectrometry identifies each component.

GC/MS report details the main chemical components and trace elements in a certain essential oil and their percentages as well as the distillation date. Remember even the same essential oil from different region or is harvested at different season has very different chemical components! And different essential oils have different shelf life. Granted, a few resinous oils get better with time, we still want to know when an essential oil is produced. We don’t want to purchase an oil at the end of its shelf life!

GC/MS report is an extra step that a responsible company will do to make sure that each batch of their oil are pure, unadulterated and have true therapeutic values.

If a company tells you that a CofA (certificate of Authenticity) or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) is the same as GC/MS, the oils from the company are NOT pure, authentic. They are standardized.

CofA is just a piece of paper indicating where the oil is produced and MSDS is just to inform you of the proper handling of a material, first aid treatment etc. Neither provides the detailed breakdown of the chemical components.

GC/MS report is an additional cost a company has to bear while CofA and MSDS are prepared by the manufacturers and are provided free of charge.


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