ESSENTIAL OILS: 101


I’ve heard a lot of feedback recently from friends and family getting into essential oils. This is awesome! I grew up in health food stores. I was that weird 6th grade kid with a pocket sized herbal remedy book on their night stand and would eat raw tofu as an afternoon snack because I thought it was delicious. The fact that there are more people out there opening their minds to natural remedies and ingredients gives me a big ole smile.

And since all of Jayme and I’s Black Birch products are made with essential oils and never synthetic fragrances, we love that people are starting to see the value in putting natural products on their skin. But what we don’t love is the misinformation we keep hearing. So I’ve put the below together to clarify and help you as a consumer make informed decisions about the products you use.

For the purpose of keeping it simple some might feel I am picking on one certain brand that is pretty much the Mary Kay of essential oils. Which again, it is awesome that people are opening their eyes to other ways of natural pampering and healing.  But this brand consistently seems to be really driving home some misinformation.

***I know there are some die hard essential oils brand fans our there, so just to make sure we are all on the same page, I have nothing to gain from this. Although all of our Black Birch products are always made with the highest quality of essential oils on the market, we don’t sell these oils undiluted or individually packaged, nor do we give out the name of our supplier. Also, to keep you visual learners (“thank god, I can’t stand all text blog posts.”) with me I’ve placed some stock photography. ***

Woman Receiving Massage

First off, why do some companies use fragrance oils?

It is incredibly cheap to scent a product artificially, and those scents tend to have a stronger odor with much less oil.  Most products in stores, even those claiming to be 99% natural, contain fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are inexpensive manufactured scents. They are artificially created fragrances that contain artificial substances. Most will be diluted with a carrier like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil. These oils may also contain ingredients such as petroleum or coal tar, within limits established by the FDA. These ingredients can be harmful to humans and animals. The FDA does not require fragrance manufacturers to disclose the ingredients of synthetic fragrances.

In addition to being hazardous to your health, without the complex chemical components of the unadulterated natural essential oil, the aromatherapeutic effects are not present.

So let’s talk safe Essential Oil usage…

We are concerned with the many recommendations of direct (which is presumed to be undiluted) skin application use of essential oils. Please be aware that true essential oils are strong. They can burn and they can actually cause allergies if not used properly. This has nothing to do with the quality of oil you are getting. Even the purest of oil can cause negative reactions.  Certain essential oils should not be used if you have high blood pressure, epilepsy, sensitive skin, or pregnant. They also should not be used on babies of a certain age. Some should never even touch skin or mucous membranes. If you don’t vary oils that you use on a regular basis you can acquire a sensitivity reaction. They can even make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. And did you know that some essential oils are so potent that their spills must be handled as if they are hazardous?

I’ve read on some essential oil websites that they advise putting Lavender, Tea Tree Oil, and more on without dilution. ONLY once significant essential oil knowledge is gained should you ever attempt to apply any undiluted essential oil on the skin. Sure, there are instances when experienced aromatherapy practitioners make exceptions to this precaution, but you can develop permanent sensitization if you don’t heed this warning.

Just like with herbs being in a fairly unregulated industry, you need to be careful and really understand what you are getting into. Both are powerful tools that can be used negatively if the end user hasn’t followed through on educating themselves.

What about claims that using Non-Organic Certified Essential Oils are a step above Organic Essential Oils?

We don’t buy that for a minute, and neither should you.  In fact, the essential oils we use are True Certified Organic by OTCOOTCO is a 30 year old USDA accredited third party certification agency.

What is Certified Organic? Grown, harvested and processed without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, GMO’s, synthetic chemicals, growth agents, and free from irradiation and chemical sterilization.

There is a multi-level marketing essential oils company out there with a quality standard for their oils calledCertified Pure Therapeutic Grade® (CPTG). They claim this to exceed industry standards. However, this is their own internal process and grading system.  I’m not saying it is bad or good. In fact, I have nothing beyond marketing brochures to judge that on, I’m just letting you know that there is no FDA approved certified pure therapeutic grading system. This is a made-up marketing term and no third party regulates this standard.

Bundle of Lavender

Sustainable Oils 

I get it. Not everything can be green and earth friendly. But, this above mentioned company unfortunately uses Indian Sandalwood. An ecologically responsible alternative would be Australian Sandalwood.  We recommend a company that has Wildharvested standards.

What does Wildharvested mean? Items gathered from their natural environment, such as woodlands, prairies, deserts etc. All wildharvested items are taken to separate facilities for further processing. All wildharvested items gathered and contracted must sign a preliminary “Wild Take Audit” to insure that materials are sustainably gathered with a no more than 10% take, and that the plants are re-seeded or roots are left to re-stock native populations.

It’s so expensive, it must be good, right?  

Essential oils are expensive.

It can take about 30 petals of a rose to make a single drop of rose oil. We’ve been hearing a lot of people say that the oils they purchase are expensive, so they have to be the best in the market. In fact, our oils are on average twice the cost of essential oils you can buy from stores. But we don’t make this the claim to why we purchase from our supplier. We back them because of their long history of high industry standards and eco-facility policies. They keep a zero waste facility and hardly do marketing. The amount of effort it takes to produce a 100% organic pure steam distilled plant oils adds up, as do marketing campaigns. To motivate a multi-level business model company it takes a lot of costly marketing and those costs need to be pushed down.

Also, I will note which step of the process suppliers cultivate essential oil will also reflect in the price. I give props to dōTERRA for their transparency on their Ylang Ylang. They do call their Ylang Ylang a complete distill.  Ylang Ylang first distill is typically considered to be the quality of oil that is most sought after (of highest therapeutic quality), not complete distillation. To me this goes against their own internal policy and now I’m just even more confused.

This is great information and everything, but what should I look for when purchasing Essential Oils?

First off, give yourself around of applause in taking the step to inform yourself enough to start using essential oils. There are a lot of essential oil companies in the market that can provide you with a great product, including said above company. Just make sure you research and fully understand the power of these products and look past the marketing ploys. Below are some guidelines that Jayme and I established on how we would go about purchasing essential oils for our own business. This is our standard and what we feel comfortable standing behind when it comes to putting our name on a product.

- True Organic Certified
- Harvested and distilled in clean facilities (prefer eco-friendly practices)
- From first distillations, never complete
- Guaranteed fresh
- True therapeutic quality that is tested and supervised by a certified aromatherapist
- Provides safe handling practices
- Provides gas chromatography analysis and specifications on the oils volatility and integrity


1 comment


  • Reese Fisher

    Thankyou for all your great information!!! I am trying to decide on which company I want to go with to make a career with. I need to make income with the essential oils, and was hoping you could direct me to the right company.

    Thankyou


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