Why Are Some Essential Oils So Expensive?
Why Are Some Essential Oils So Cheap?
Is There Really a Difference?
People have been asking me what is the best brand of essential oils, so I thought I’d write a post to help clear up some myths and misconceptions about essential oils.
I’ve been using essential oils for several years, and have tried at least ten different brands of essential oils. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. There are cheap oils, and expensive oils. Let’s sort through them, shall we? I’ll show you what to look for in an essential oil, reduce some confusion, and maybe even end up saving you some money, because I’ve wasted a lot of money on cheap oils. And I will say right up front, that cheaper isn’t better. So, let’s get started.
First off, What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the lifeblood of the plant. Just like we have blood that flowing through our bodies, carrying nutrients to all of our cells, essential oils carry nutrient throughout the plant.
Essential Oils Are A Plant’s Life Blood:
- Carry nutrients to the plant cells
- Protect the plant from any form of stress
- Protect the plant against infection and disease
- Give the plant its characteristic aroma
- May be found in any portion of the bush, flower, herb or tree.
- Just like we can’t live without blood, plants can’t live without this essential part of the plant.
How are Essential Oils Obtained?
The flowers, leaves, fruit, stem, bark, roots, or sap is harvested. The oil is then collected from the harvested plants. There are several ways of collecting the oil. The most common method is steam distillation, where the plants are put in a sealed container and steam is forced in through the bottom. The steam rises through the plant material, breaking the oil sacs and the oil is carried up with the steam where it passes through a condenser. The steam turns back into water, and the oil floats on top and is collected. Another common method is cold pressing, as in all the citrus oils, where the peels are squeezed and the oils are collected.
During the collection process, many manufacturers have found shortcuts to make the process faster, to collect more oil by adding chemicals to extend the volume of the oils.
After the oils are collected, they are packaged and distributed.
The Quality of Essential Oils
For pure grade essential oils to be used therapeutically, it is absolutely necessary that you know the source of the oils and the reputation of the company. From the time the seeds are sown into the ground, to the sealing of the bottle, the factors that contribute to the quality of the oil are vital to the quality of the oil.
- The plants need to be grown as organic as possible, because the pesticides and herbicides, as well as the air pollution, will all become part of the essential oil.
- The plants need optimal growing conditions for their unique species. Sunlight, altitude, temperature, and rainfall all are factors in the outcome of the oil.
- Harvest time is critical. Too early or too late will effect the properties of the chemical constituents in the oil.
- Distillation process and timing is critical. Too fast, too slow, steam too hot, all factor in to the quality.
- Packaging is important, because if the yield was off, some manufacturer will cut the oil with alcohol or other chemical extenders.
- Finally, distribution. Once the oil is bottled, care must be taken to protect the oil from excess heat and sunlight.
That’s A Lot of Steps!
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into producing a bottle of essential oil. It takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of oil, making it one of the most expensive oils to produce. Frankincense sells for $35,000 a ton. You can find a $25.00 bottle of frankincense, or a $20.00 bottle of rose oil. They might even say “pure essential oil” on the label. More than likely, these less expensive forms of frankincense and rose oil have been cut with alcohol or other synthetic chemicals. They may smell beautiful, just like an original oil, but they do not have the same healing properties. Worse, these adulterated forms of oils may cause rashes or other skin irritations. Some people believe that all essential oils need to be diluted before being applied to the skin. This practice likely stems from irritation from adulterated, impure oils. In fact, very few oils need to be diluted. Pure essential oils don’t have the additives that cause the irritation or allergic reaction of adulterated oils. A word of caution, I said most oils don’t need to be diluted. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t dilute your oils, I’m just saying that if someone has told you that all oils need to be diluted, that is wrong, and it’s probably because they’ve been using cheap, adulterated oils.
In my next article, I will explain how and where to purchase essential oils and the brands I recommend most.