How to Buy Quality Essential Oils Without Being Duped

Woman's hands holding bottle of essential oil

You’re running low on essential oils and start shopping for more, but what’s the deal with the range of prices? How do you know what you’re really getting? 
 
Start by reading the label: 

  • Does it say organic? Some organic essential oils cost just a little bit more to quite a bit more than regular essential oils. I’ve found organic Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oils to be quite reasonable.
  • Does it say diluted? Diluted oils are cheaper and aren’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on what its diluted with, what you’re using it for and that its clearly marked. Look at sandalwood for instance. You can pay $55-105 for 5ml (or $138 for organic), however, if its diluted in a carrier oil (usually jojoba oil), 5ml becomes as cheap as $11-40. And the amount of dilution varies as well. I’ve seen 3%, 10% and 50% (the higher the percentage, the more essential oil it contains).
  • What size is the bottle? Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. The norm is 5ml or 10ml, but I’ve seen some for 3 or 4ml.
  • What species is it? Rosa centifolia (Rose de Mai) may cost $30 but Rosa damascena (Rose Otto) will set you back $63.
  • Is it a blend? It may contain other essential oils. Any essential oil labelled “pure” should be that essential oil only, no other ingredients. Sometimes you need to read the ingredients to be sure.
  • Are you paying for a brand name? Some of the big brand essential oil companies, that I won’t name here, are charging you extra just for buying from them. As long as everything on the label is equal, there’s no difference between their oil and another brand’s oil.
  • What format is it? We’re most familiar with essential oils (which are a result of the process of distillation or expression), but there are some other formats out there that are legit and sometimes even superior. Some oils are costlier to obtain one way over another. Using rose again, the true essential oil can cost $315 for 5ml, however a rose absolute (or absolute essential oil) can cost $63. An absolute goes through more steps but it’s the most concentrated format and is closest to resembling the scent of the flower.

If you think something is shady, there is a test you can perform:

  • Place a drop of essential oil on a paper towel or piece of paper. It should evaporate completely within a day or two. Note that this doesn’t work for coloured essential oils or those that tend to be thicker.

Now that you’re armed with knowledge, enjoy your shopping!

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