Updated: Apr 28
From last post, we know that essential oils are extracted from aromatic plant material through distillation and expression. Each essential oil contains tens if not hundreds of chemical compounds, and some of those are still unknown to our current scientific system. Hence, “pure” does not mean it only contains one chemistry element or single chemical compounds. “Pure” means it is extracted from a single batch of plant material, which is grown together, harvested together and extracted together. It must be from the same plant species and processed together to produce a batch of essential oil. Each individual batch varies from the others in terms of their chemical constituents.
Essential oils can be adulterated, diluted and blended. Sometimes synthesis compounds are added, sometimes cheaper oils from different species are used for adulteration. Companies often dilute expensive essential oils, e.g. rose, jasmine, to make it more affordable to end customers. Synergy blends are also provided to end customers for ease of use. All the above have their own targeted markets and should not be mistaken as PURE essential oils.
Pure essential oil is a fragrant volatile substance that are distilled or expressed from aromatic plant material from single botanical source.
There are 6 things to look for while searching for pure essential oils.
🌟“Pure” or “100%” on the label. It is to differentiate diluted or blended products and essential oils.
🌟Binomial nomenclature name of the plant material in Latin. Binomial nomenclature name is the scientific ID of plants, which is the only way to identify the plants without confusion from all the synonyms. It contains two parts, the first is itsgenus name starting with a capital letter, and the second part refers to the specific epithet and defines the individual species. For example, Lavandula angustifolia is true lavender, Lavandula latifolia is spike lavender and Lavandula x intermedia is lavandin. They are from the same genus “Lavandula”, however three different species, and their constituents are not similar at all. Even from the same species, there are varieties and chemotypes, which produces essential oils with different therapeutic properties. We will elaborate on this topic in another session.
🌟Plant part of extraction. Some of the aromatic plants produces oils from different parts, such as leaves, barks, flowers and fruits, etc. The compounds varies a lot, so dothe therapeutic properties. For example, neroli, bitter orange, and petitgrain can be from the same species Citrus aurantium. Neroli is distilled from flowers, bitter orange is expressed from the rind of the fruit, and petitgrain is distilled from leaves and twigs. Not only the aroma is different, the therapeutic use are different too.
🌟Production method. The production method makes constituents different. Lime essential oil can be either expressed or distilled from the rind of fruits. The distilled version does not contain furanocoumarin, which is a phototoxic compound that can cause sun burns if exposed to UV light.
🌟Production country/area. The plant material changes according to the climate under which it grows, so the same species can produce different constituents. It is important to know where it grew and was harvested, which provides a hint of compounds and their proportions.
🌟Allergens and cautions. It is important to know if there is any possible adverse or allergy effects the compounds may cause. As we said before, nature is not always safe. Knowing the safety guidelines is the start of your essential oil journey.
Now we have learnt how to find pure essential oils, and we can start using them and enjoying the benefit they bring.