Reflecting between the LINES
By Lori Lines
Did you know that most oils that are labeled as “100 percent pure” may not be pure after all? Most people think that when they buy oil that’s labeled this way, they are getting pure oil. What they don’t know is that companies are allowed to label their oil as “100 percent pure” as long as it contains at least 5 percent of the actual oil. What this means is that the bottle you get from apothecary shops or even from your health food store labeled “100 percent pure” means nothing! Beware, not all so called pure oils are pure. On these same bottles you’ll see a warning against topical application and/or oral ingestion. Such a warning is a clear indication that these oils are not pure.
Most of the essential oils on the market are what is called “fourth and fifth quality”, “aroma therapy” or “perfume” oils. This includes oils found in aroma therapy and in health food shops. Today, it seems like companies are popping up all over place claiming to be manufacturing pure oils, but nothing could be further from the truth. The standards set for producing pure oils are very high for most companies to attain. Very few companies produce high quality essential oils. Producing pure oils in not an easy process - it begins right from the growing of the seed, through to harvesting, formulating, producing, and to packaging. Unless a company takes care in every single one of these steps there is absolutely no way that the company can claim to be producing pure oils. And any mishap in this process may lead to the production of adulterated oil.
Mislabeled essential oils and adulterated essential oils may be dangerous to consumers. Most manufacturers do not indicate the true content of their product on the labels. That’s why most of the so-called “lavender” oil sold through online aromatherapy shops or in health food stores and in grocery stores turn out to be lavandin. Lavandin contains high levels of camphor (up to 18 percent) and will burn the skin. It is hybrid lavender that is chemically very different from lavandula angustifolia (pure lavender). True lavender contains virtually no camphor and has many benefits.
Another example of adulterated oil is frankincense. The essential oil requires 12 hours to be steam distilled from the resin and is very expensive. But the frankincense resin that is sold in countries like Somalia costs between $30,000 and $35,000 per ton. Frankincense oil that is sold for $25.00 per ounce or less must have been distilled with alcohol or other solvents, which make their quality of the product questionable. As a rule, cheap oils have low prices.
To maintain all of the beneficial qualities, frankincense oil must be extracted by steam distillation using low heat and extremely low pressure so as not to defile the quality of the oil. When these cut, adulterated and synthetic oils cause burns, rashes or other irritations, those using these oils may wonder why they don’t get the benefit they were expecting and conclude that these essential oils don’t have much value.
Most manufacturers cut adulterated oils with synthetic chemicals rendering them harmful. At times they cause skin irritations, burning, rashes and more. This explains why the warnings against their oral ingestion or topical application are stated on the bottle. Other companies also use petrochemical solvents that are devoid of any beneficial effects and can cause allergic reactions.
From 1967 to 1998, the demand for true lavender oil grew over 100 times while its production dropped from 87 tons to only 12 tons in France. So, to meet this huge demand, essential oil marketers use a combination of adulterated and synthetic oils.
Most of the lavender oil sold in America is lavendin, which is grown and distilled in Tasmania, France, Russia or China. The oil production in these locations tests high in radioactive isotopes. The lavendin grown in these countries are brought to France where they cut it with synthetic linolyl acetate to improve the fragrance. They then add DOP, DEP, SD 40 or propylene glycol, which are solvents that increase the volume and have no smell, then sell it in the United States as lavender oil. Most people in America don’t know the difference and are happy to buy and sell in beauty salons, health food stores, department stores and grocery and through mail order.
A wide variety of essential oils are safe to apply neat topically and administer orally without harm to the human organism. But that’s only true when an authentically pure essential oil is used. There are 4 grades or levels of essential oils: Pure, Natural, Complete, and Grade A or Genuine or "Therapeutic". Pure essential oils are those that have not been diluted with any lesser quality essential oil. But as has been stated earlier the word “pure” on the label does not necessarily mean that the oil has no additives. That why you need to know the vendors of pure oils so you can purchase from them armed with knowledge of their grades.
Natural essential oils are those which have not been adulterated with SD Alcohol 40, propylene glycol, vegetable oils or other chemicals. Complete essential oils are those distilled at low pressure and low heat so that all the beneficial properties are maintained. They have not been purified or rectified (which means redistilled or stripped). Many companies often redistill essential oils to make a small amount of oil go farther. They make more profit that way but in the process end up with low quality products. Furthermore, when the oil is redistilled the beneficial properties are lost. It’s like using a tea bag over and over again.
Grade A or Genuine essential oils are the best oils. They are the cream of the crop. Young Living Essential Oils takes great care in very step of producing these oils. They ensure that the soils used to plant the seeds are organic with no chemicals added. The seeds used are not hybrid and no chemicals are used on the plants in the field.
The company distills by steam at low temperature and low pressure in upright containers and no chemicals are ever used in the process. The distillation process is also timed to ensure that the distillate is of the highest quality. They understand that distillation determines the value of the oil, and that distillation is an art and not just a job. Poor distillation process can destroy the value of the oil. They use only the best species of the plants.
The operator of the distiller must have a full understanding of the value of oils in order to produce quality oils. If the temperature is too high or the pressure is too high, it may change the chemical composition of the fragrance molecule by altering its constituents’ chemistry. For example, distillation of lavender should not exceed 245 degrees of temperature, and should not exceed 3 pounds of pressure. The distillation process should take 2 hours. Distillers who are only interested in profits will distill lavender at very high temperature and very high pressure for only 15 minutes. That’s why it is emphasized that before you purchase any oil, try to find out about integrity of the company and vendors.
© Lori Lines, All Rights Reserved.
Author Lori Lines
This blog represents messages through and from Lori Lines.