- The quality of the plant material used
- The Plant source
- The extraction method
- Blends - bastardised essential oils
1. The quality of the plant material used
If you are super eco friendly then you may be as concerned about the quality of plant material that you use for beauty products as you are about what you eat.
The best plant material in your case would be plant material grown in the wild, far away from polluting cars and factories and grown without pesticides, herbicides and other "unnatural" stuff, i.e. organic essential oils. Personally, I am not too concerned! I won't pay the premium for organic things that will be applied externally.
2. The Plant source
Some essential oils have different varieties. Sometimes this means no more than the essential oil coming from a different country or region but at other times the essential oil comes from such a different species of the plant or tree that its therapeutic benefits are completely different.
A good example here is cedarwood essential oil.
The best quality essential oils will have been extracted using:
- Carbon dioxide gas extraction (best)
- Cold pressed citrus oils (best for citrus oils)
- Steam distillation (good)
Not so ideal are essential oils produced by:
- Solvent extraction - produces a less pure oil because some of the solvent remains behind. If hexane is the solvent used only 0.001% of hexane residue remains in the essential oil; but with other solvents this can be as high as 6-20%. If you can prove hexane then it may be worth using to save some money.
- Water distillation - not as good as steam distillation
- Maceration - it creates more of an infused oil rather than an essential oil.
Some essential oils are blended with a cheaper essential oil to create a higher profit for the producer! Apparently this is common knowledge in the essential oil industry and is called "making a soup".
Of all the things that can impact the quality of an essential oil this is the one that annoys and concerns me the most. When I buy an essential oil I do not want it to be blended with anything else.
Here are examples of common blends that I found in The Aromatherapy Encyclopedia by Carol Schiller & David Schiller:
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You might also like:
- Neno Natural's DIY Hair Recipes
- How Are Essential Oils Extracted From Plants? (Steam Distillation, CO2 Extraction, Cold Press, Etc.)
Ref: The Aromatherapy Encyclopedia by Carol Schiller & David Schiller