The Blogs
Posted in Essential Oil Basics by Rocky Mountain Oils

Are you playing Essential Oil Russian Roulette?

After two decades of working in supply chain, I’ve learned a few things about how tricky sourcing quality materials can be. From blatant forgery of documents to the subtle use of cheap chemicals to manipulate test results, I’ve seen a lot. When I get asked why our products are so expensive compared to others online or at the local big box store, I have a lot to say about how they are cutting costs.

Here are my top 3:

1) Cutting quality testing - The easiest way to cut costs and deliver a cheaper essential oil is to cut out quality tests at steps starting at harvest and ending at final bottling. You can definitely save money this way, but at what cost? By eliminating quality tests at multiple points, you introduce ways for bad material to slip by you and get into customers’ hands.

This is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with your customers’ health. We test a lot of competitor essential oils, for quality and I’m sorry to say that the majority of the oils we test do not meet our quality standards. It’s a situation where you do get what you pay for.

2) Diluted (also known as adulterating) oil - This means that there is something other than 100% distilled essential oil in the bottle. One of the most common ways we see this done is by adding a cheap fragrance to make the oil smell the way you’d expect while cutting the cost down to pennies. While not all of the fragrances added are harmful, in some competitor samples we test, there are enough chemicals in there to counteract the benefits of the small amounts of the essential oil it contains. A recent competitor sample we tested was Sandalwood.

This is a very expensive essential oil in its pure form. This particular sample was diluted with a very cheap carrier oil and fragrance. Don’t be fooled by this tactic. The oil may smell the same, but the therapeutic benefits that you are expecting may not be there.

3) Harvesting too early? No problem…just add chemicals - As the demand for essential oils increases, the pressure on farmers to provide more and more raw material to distill into essential oils is intense. This sometimes leads to harvesting the plant before it’s had a chance to mature as Mother Nature intended and naturally make all the bio-components that are needed to make quality oil. This is where some creative manipulation comes into play.

Cheap chemicals can be added to show the right peaks on tests to make it look like it has what you’d expect in a therapeutic grade essential oil. It takes additional testing to monitor and identify this type of clever trickery if you want to provide a quality essential oil. That adds additional costs for companies like us who are dedicated to providing 100% pure and effective essential oils.

There is a lot of noise out there and a lot of choices you can make. It’s easy to become confused and overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. Do your due diligence and research and ask yourself what chances you’re willing to take before purchasing essential oils.


Sally Clarke

Chief Operations Officer