Oil Boom: Your Essential Oil May Be An Impostor
First came designer handbags, then came the knock-offs. Essential oils are no different - in the current "oil boom," there are a lot good oils out there, but there are also a lot of impostors floating around. Essential oils are readily available, so how do you know that you're actually getting the goodies? Unfortunately, it’s tough to know if that’s what’s actually in the little bottle you brought home. Some vendors just blend together a bunch of low-cost oils in order to create a hybrid, others pass low-cost oils off as ones that are harder (and pricier) to come by, others just totally fake it with synthetics that echo the plant’s scent.
So, how do you spot the good stuff? Here are three ways to tell whether your oil is the real deal:
1. THE PRICE
While high cost doesn’t signify high quality, it’s smart to be wary of an essential oil with a super-low price tag. Essential oils are almost inevitably pricey: It can take a roomful of plant material to fill just one bottle of essential oil. If the botanical is scarce, it further drives up cost. Some essential oils like rose, lemon balm, jasmine, helichrysum, and chamomile varieties should always be very expensive. Check several sites to get an idea for the normal price of the oil you want.
2. THE NAME
Make sure the plant’s botanical Latin name is listed on the label or, if you’re shopping online, the webpage. Sometimes manufacturers will mix different low-cost species of a plant together and put it under one name.If only the common name is listed (for example, "lavender essential oil") you might be shelling out for a lower-cost hybrid. For example, the botanical name of Bulgarian Lavender is Lavandula Anguvstifolia while the botanical name of Lavender Spike is Lavendula Latifolia. Each of these oils are from different species of lavender- they smell, act, and cost entirely different. Lavender Spike can be irritating to skin and doesn't have that sweet, clean classic lavender smell. Get to know the species of plant you are trying to use so that you know what to look for when you are shopping.
Also, if your bottle doesn’t specify that it’s an essential oil, it isn’t. "Lavender oil" is nothing more than perfumed fragrance oil; it may or may not contain material from the plant, and won’t have the same therapeutic properties as "lavender essential oil.”
3. THE CONTAINER
All essential oils must be stored in glass containers, because the oil’s strong chemical compounds break down and react with plastic. The glass should be dark blue or amber to protect the oil from degrading ultraviolet radiation. Take note of the temperature, too. Bottles should be kept in a cool place, since heat messes with the oil’s chemical composition; be wary of oils the are stored on a sun-drenched shelf or that show up in a clear bottle.