Don't know where to buy essential oils and not sure what criteria there are to determine if an EO store is reliable or not? Read this page to learn how to choose reliable essential oil stores.
The main purpose of using essential oils is to benefit from their therapeutic properties, such as pain relieving, calming, sedating, etc. However, in order to benefit from the therapeutic properties of essential oils, we need to use 100% pure essential oils.
But how do we know the oils that we are getting are 100% pure?
If you are new to aromatherapy and essential oils, and are looking for reliable essential oil stores to purchase oils from, the task could be daunting!
If you want to buy essential oils online, access the websites of the online stores and see if you can find detailed information of the essential oils they are selling.
In particular, see if they provide gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis reports for each batch of oils they are selling.
Gas chromatography (GC) is a method of separating the volatile compounds in essential oils into individual components, and mass spectrometry (MS) is a process that identifies each of the individual components and their percentages. This process can tell us if the oil being tested has been adulterated, as well as the major chemical components contained in the oil.
Ideally, essential oil stores should get each and every batch of oils they purchase from the distillers tested, to make sure that they are 100% pure. (However, not all of them do this as it costs a lot to have the tests done.)
Now, for people who do not have any training in aromatherapy, they will not know how to read a GC/MS report even if they can get hold of one. However, it is still good to know that essential oil stores provide GC/MS reports to the public, because it shows that these stores have nothing to hide (they don't know who will be reading the reports, do they?), and it's a good indication that they sell pure EOs.
Therefore, if you are looking for a store to buy essential oils, try to find one that provide GC/MS reports for each batch of their oils. If such reports are not readily available from the store's website, phone/email and ask them if they can send the reports to you. If they are unwilling to do so, or if they say they don't get their oils tested, then a red flag should be raised.
In addition to GC/MS reports, also consider the following factors:
Are the prices of different oils in the store all the same? Are they unbelievably cheap?
It takes a lot of plant materials to get small amounts of essential oils, and the extraction process is always hard and labor intensive. Therefore, essential oils are NOT cheap! If a store offers a 5ml bottle of true Lavender EO at an incredibly low price of US$3.00, chances are the oil is not pure.
Also, if the oils in the store are priced the same, then a red flag should be raised as well! Some oils (e.g. rose oil) are much more expensive than others (e.g. most citrus oils) because some plant materials are not as readily available as others; some oils need a lot of plant materials to produce (e.g. it takes about 50 rose flowers to produce one drop of rose oil); and different extraction methods also cost differently (e.g. expression is cheaper than distillation).
Read the label on the essential oil bottle carefully. Make sure that both the Latin name and the common name of the source plant is on the label. Check that the date of distillation or an expiration date is clearly indicated. Good companies also clearly indicate the batch number, the country of origin, the extraction process, storage cautions, usage instructions, and usage cautions on the label.
This is because the common name of a plant can be used for more than one type of oil. For example, Lavender is a common plant name, but there are various types of "Lavender oil", all of which have different chemical components and as such different therapeutic properties.
Consider these 2 "Lavender oils": Lavandula angustifolia is an oil safe for most people, and has relaxing and calming effects, but Lavandula latifolia is stimulating and is not safe for use with people who are epileptic.
You don't need to memorize the Latin names of oils (unless you really want to!), but you do need to check that the oils you are buying have the same Latin names as the oils in the recipe that you are planning to use!
Only buy oils that are stored in dark-colored glass bottles. Also, if you choose to buy oils in a store (not online), see where the oils are being displaced. If they are displayed close to the doors and windows, it is safe to assume that their quality will be degraded because the oils easily react to changes in light and temperature.
I prefer to buy oils from companies with good information available on their websites - how to use the oils, interesting facts about the oils, information about how the oils are distilled, useful recipes, etc. If such information is available, it is usually an indication that the company has people on staff who are knowledgeable in essential oils, and that's a good thing!
Here are a few online essential oil stores that I like and trust. As you can see, they all provide batch-specific GC/MS reports, have good information on their websites, and they have qualified aromatherapists on staff to assist customers: