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How to tell if an essential oil is fake

how to tell if an essential oil is fake

So, you’ve decided that you want to do something good for your family – use essential oils. Maybe you want to diffuse some Lavender to help your partner or your kids get to sleep. Or drop in some Orange to liven up your chocolate brownies. Or even add Peppermint essential oil to your massage oil to bring relief to tired muscles after a workout. Great! But there’s a problem…there are SO many companies and shops out there all selling ‘pure essential oils’. How can you tell which ones really ARE pure, which ones are adulterated and which ones are synthetic? This is especially important if you’re wanting to use them with your kids. The bottom line is – you’re wondering how to tell if an essential oil is fake or not.

You may be thinking – surely there must be industry standards to control all this? Unfortunately, no. In fact, there’s no authority actually regulating what goes into essential oils or whether they meet any particular standard or not. So even if an essential oil says that it is ‘100% pure’, ‘therapeutic grade’ or ‘certified’, there is no one other than the companies themselves policing this. And let’s be honest here – there are plenty of companies who are more than happy to sacrifice purity for profit. Or safety to simply sell more. No one wants to be the victim of unscrupulous companies!

Fortunately there IS a simple way to ensure you get pure essential oils. But first, let’s take a look at a few of the myths out there about how to tell if an essential oil is fake or real.

5 fake oil myths

1. When you drip an essential oil on a piece of paper it shouldn’t leave an oily ring.

This is kind of true. However, it’s not true for all essential oils. Some exceptions to this are essential oils which are heavier and deeper in colour like German Chamomile, Patchouli, Vetiver and Sandalwood. Myth Busted!

2. You can feel the difference as pure essential oils should not feel greasy or thick.

Once again, essential oils like German Chamomile, Patchouli, Vetiver and Sandalwood bust this myth as all of these feel greasy like carrier oils.

3. Pure essential oils don’t freeze. If they do, they must be adulterated with oil or water.

This one definitely isn’t true as all liquids freeze. It just happens at different temperatures. So for essential oils like Blue Cypress, Thyme and Rose this happens at higher temperatures than others. Freezing can also vary depending on the particular species of plant the essential oil comes from. For example, a Peppermint essential oil high in menthol will freeze in your household freezer, while one lower in menthol won’t. 

4. Pure essential oils don’t dissolve in water.

Absolutely true! However, neither do the vegetable carrier oils or the sophisticated chemicals that companies have access to in order to extend their essential oils. As consumers, we have no way of really checking if they have added one of these other chemicals to our bottle of essential oil.

5. Essential oils should smell like the plant.

Well yes, this is definitely true – to a degree. However, essential oils can smell different from year to year and across growing regions due to different soils, altitude and water. Take for example Young Living’s Peppermint essential oil. Young Living recently started sourcing their Peppermint essential oil from a farm in Washington State. This was due to concerns about other farms being able to keep up with the supply Young Living needs. When it was released, people thought there was something wrong with it as it didn’t smell like the old one we used to have. Of course, there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, the Chief Science Officer, Mike Buch, said that it was actually a better quality essential oil. The smell variation was due to the different growing conditions of the plant. Rectification can also change the aromas of essential oils.

What is rectification?

One way that some essential oil companies change the smell of their essential oils is through rectification. Rectification is a  Fractional Distillation process in which they redistil the essential oil to remove certain chemical constituents. This process is used for oils such as Eucalyptus and Peppermint. In the case of Eucalyptus, some companies use rectification to remove certain aldehydes which may cause people to cough. This rectification increases the amount of 1,8 cineole and decreases many of the other naturally occurring constituents. Therefore, the uses for the Double Distilled Eucalyptus essential oil varies from the uses of the un-rectified oil.

Some companies use rectification to make the taste and smell of Peppermint essential oil sweeter. This is why some people who are against using pure essential oils in cooking say that the Peppermint essence that is sold in supermarkets is not the same as Peppermint essential oil. Yes it is different, but it’s not rectified to make it safer to use in cooking. It’s so it tastes better.

So how CAN you tell if an essential oil is real?

We had lots of fun putting this video together! Jeremy was convinced that he knew exactly how to tell if an essential oil is fake. Was he right? I share the simple and easy way of knowing that your essential oils are not just real, but 100% pure as well.

For more education and entertainment with Kim and Jeremy, check out their Youtube channel here.

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