When people buy essential oils, there are some common mistakes that they often make and so this essential oils buying guide should help you to avoid those common pitfalls. In order to understand buying essential oils, you must first understand exactly what they are, where they come from and what they can be used for. One writer described essential oils as being the life source or soul of a plant and although that may not be exactly true, it does adequately sum-up its importance.
One of the reasons essential oils are so useful, is because they are very small in terms of molecular size and so can easily be absorbed by the skin and yet they do not accumulate, they merely pass through the body having provided temporary healing or soothing.
Concentrated essential oil is extracted from plants and it can take many plants to provide just a small amount.
Examples of this is that it takes 100 pounds of Lavender plant material to provide just one pound of essential lavender Oil or as much as 4000 pounds of Bulgarian Roses material to provide a single pound of essential oil.
This will of course account for the high price you will pay for genuine essential oils. The price you pay though is one of the common mistakes that people make as they assume that everything labeled as essential oil is genuine and undiluted.
Yes the genuine undiluted oils can be expensive but as they are undiluted, with the exception of Citrus oils which start to lose their potency after just one or two years, essential oils, stored in brown bottles protecting them from direct sunlight, should last at least 5 years and often as many as 10. Before you buy any essential oil, you should first ensure that you are not allergic to it and as a general rule, if you are allergic to the plant, you will probably be allergic to its essential oil. However, in order to test if you are allergic to a specific essential oil or not, you can mix one drop of the oil with ½ tsp. of a carrier oil such as olive or sweet almond and then rub the mix on the inside of your upper arm. If after a couple of hours, no rash or itching occurs, that oil is probably safe for you to use.
What is Essential Oil ?
Now we come to the uses for essential oils and there are many. Firstly though you must understand that essential oils cannot be patented which means there is no profit for pharmaceutical companies in providing it and so they expend no money on any kind of research. This means that most uses have been passed down from generation to generation and there is some controversy as to the real benefits of some of them. Essential oils though, are used for a number of purposes including therapeutic, food additives and cleansing and depending on what purpose you want the essential oil for, you will need to buy it in different grades of purity. Essential oils have been placed in 4 different grades and they are:
- Grade A – These are pure unadulterated, genuine essential oils that have no additives and have been through several distilling processes.
- Grade B - Often referred to as natural food grade, this is certifiable genuine essential oil which has had other chemicals added.
- Grade C- This is also known as perfume grade essential oil and whilst still containing genuine essential oils, has been blended with other chemicals and solvents.
- Floral or Flower Water- This is not genuine essential oil it is synthetic oil that has been developed to be water soluble.
Although essential oils have been graded, most countries do not have strict labeling laws regarding them and so the labels should be read carefully. Obviously, due to the number of distillation processes genuine Grade ‘A’ essential oils go through, it is usually the most expensive but, as it is pure and, as mentioned earlier, long lasting, it can provide good value for money. If you are uncertain as to whether or not an essential oil is genuine and pure, you should never buy it in anything other than a brown sealed bottle as, if it is available in anything else, it certainly will not be genuine. If samples are available, there is one simple test you can carry out in order to establish if it is genuinely pure or not. Place one small drop on a piece of construction paper and if it leaves no ring, it is probably genuine. Essential oils on their own will not leave a trace however, most of the additives to impure oils will.
Having discussed what essential oils are and how they are categorized, it is now time to discuss which essential oil you should buy. If you just want something to freshen up your home, you may want to consider floral water. If however you are considering it as a scent, a Grade C would suffice. Grade B are used as food supplements whilst Grade A are used for any manner of purposes it is perhaps important to know that pure essence oil, should be diluted with a carrier oil, especially if planning to use it with children as they have weaker skins. Although you will probably be using the oil in a fashion passed down to you or you have read about, when using it with children you should mix only half the prescribed amount of essence oil. As mentioned, there is some controversy as to the effectiveness of essential oils but generally the following oils are considered to be good for the following uses:
- Rosemary- This is often used for cleaning purposes, oily skin or hair care.
- Peppermint- Good as a cleaning agent, for oily skin and as a lip balm.
- Sweet Orange- This is good for all types of skin and is good as an aroma in children’s rooms.
- Rose Geranium- This is also good for all types of skin and is also good as a moisturizer.
- Tea Tree- As well as being a good cleaning agent, this is good for oily skin, healing and getting rid of dandruff.
- Lavender- This is a great relaxant but can also be used with hair products and cleaning agents.
- Lemon- As well as a good mood lifter, this can be used sparingly in cleaning products and toners.