Quality of Essential Oils 

Published 14th Mar 2024

As essential oil fans will tell you, what matters most about an oil is its quality.  

Every bottle of oil has a purpose, and you want to be sure of it doing its job effectively right to the final drop. Yet, while you're shopping for quality oils, you may wonder why some essential oils are so cheap from one store to the next - and rightly so.  
  
In the vast yet wonderful world of aromatherapy oils - from essential oils to carrier oils - one fundamental remains the same across the spectrum: Not all essential oils are equal!  

This raises questions about an essential oil's purity, quality and authenticity. How do you know if an essential oil is fake? Are organic and pure oils the same thing? For such a small bottle, it seems there is much to learn about oils, and today's article tackles the subject of oil quality head-on.


How to Find High-Quality Oils – and Why it Matters 

In the age of mass consumerism, you're quite OK to expect quality goods – and it’s no different when you’re buying essential oils. Some might say that the expectation for quality increases further thanks to their therapeutic purpose. You wouldn’t accept medicines poor in quality – why should alternative remedies be any different? 
 
The problem is, at the time of writing, essential oils in Australia remain in regulatory no man’s land.  
 
While the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates the manufacture and import of therapeutic products like medicines, essential oils sit outside of these regulations and, as such, remain unaccountable when it comes to quality.  
 
For now, at least, this lack of governance allows the quality standards to differ dramatically from one product or brand to the next, making it critical to do your homework to avoid buying products lacking integrity. 
 
You could be buying an adulterated oil (an oil that’s been diluted or modified post-production) or an oil considered pure. But how do you know if an essential oil is pure? And what even is pure essential oil anyway?  


What Do We Mean by Pure Essential Oil? 

The word ‘pure’ gets used frequently in the world of essential oils, and yet, thanks to that lack of governance referred to above, it's tricky to know for sure which oils are genuinely pure and which are not. 

There is a consensus among those producing and reselling oils as to what warrants the term 'pure'. It comes down to two things – one, a product’s authenticity in being completely composed of its single plant source, and two, it remaining as close to the original source as possible – that’s free from additives, fillers or dilutions. 

In short, the more tampering, the greater the risk of an oil losing its authenticity. Be it an additive to keep a product fresh for longer, a solution to stretch a liquid's volume further or an essence to give off a new smell, modifying a product can change it from authentic to fake in an instant.  

And what’s the problem if you don't buy authentic essential oils? 

Well, a few things can happen. 

Essential oils made entirely of synthetic ingredients or boosted by them are no longer considered natural, with their associated therapeutic properties reduced or removed. 

Think about why you're buying oils in the first place. Typically, essential oils buyers are looking to reap their many therapeutic benefits, using different oils to enhance the mind and body – and that’s the same if you’re a certified aromatherapist or someone who uses essential oils at home. One of the first things you risk when buying inauthentic oils is their ability to impact your health positively as intended. 

Then there’s the product’s lifespan. A good quality oil can last for several years; whereas a poor-quality essential oil it can quickly oxidate, turning rancid and useless – not to mention the new slightly offensive odour it adopts in the process... 

Besides, you’re buying a product in Australia and expecting quality. Period! 


How Do You Know if an Essential Oil is Good Quality?

If a high-quality essential oil matters to you – which it should – there are a few things to look out for when buying oils to be sure of a product you can count on. 

Your Quality Essential Oil Essentials!

Botanical name 

This is an absolute given and the first thing to look out for when shopping for oils. If an oil bottle is missing its botanical name, then you can be confident this is NOT a high-quality oil, or even an essential oil at all! 

 You will recognise the botanical name from its Latin nature. For example, a high-quality Tea Tree essential oil should also include the term Melaleuca alternifolia on the label. If you can’t see the Latin variant and all it says is ‘Tea Tree’, don’t trust it! 

Country of origin 

Oils come from around world, many originating where a plant type is in abundance – like beautiful Italian Bergamot. 

Did you know the term ‘essential’ refers to a plant’s very essence, which can only be captured from its original form? Always take a look at an oil’s origin before you buy it to see where it stems from. If it’s not on the bottle, it should be listed on a product description online. 

Price point 

So, you think you've found yourself a bargain oil. While it might look like a bargain, just hit pause on the purse opening for one second. 

Have you heard the saying 'cheap and nasty'? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's highly likely your rock-bottom priced essential oil is precisely that. 

All we'll say is, if you stumble across a '30 bottles for $30' types of deal, be wary. As a reputable wholesaler of high-quality oils, trust us when we say this simply isn't possible - not for a genuine pure oil. Most oils sold cheaply have something to hide. 

Inauthentic words 

Like all consumer products, oil resellers often have clever marketing teams to make them sound legitimate – even when they’re not.  

Words like ‘Essence, ‘Fragrance, or even just ‘Essential Oil’ tend to appear on inauthentic product labels. Make sure any oils you are considering buying include the phrase ‘100% Pure Essential Oil’ on the packaging and supporting marketing materials. While this isn’t a failsafe way of determining genuine purity, it can help to detect a suppliers reputibility. 

Non-adulterated 

You may come across this term when shopping for oils. Adulterated means the product has been changed or diluted in some way, usually dishonestly. It could be other oils, oil components, chemical or synthetic fillers, or even water. The long and short of it is, the oil has gone through some type of interference to stretch it further and increase a manufacturer’s profit margins - in some cases, they can by 100% synthetically derived and not natural at all. 

To get the best from an essential oil, it should remain in its same non-adulterated state from pressing to product shelves. How can you tell if a product has been tampered with? More often than not, you can’t, at least not at a glance. Additives can affect the oil’s colour and aroma although you may only recognise this after the point of sale. This makes it even more critical to look out for other gotchas on the list to be sure your purchase is a pure one. 

Organic 

Pure and organic are not the same, although there can certainly be links between the two. In fact, if you're interested in buying organic oils, it's clear you're already looking for purity in a natural manufacturing process (no GMOs, synthetics or pesticides), and this is likely what you want across all aspects of your oil. 

Nature identical 

This is a somewhat confusing term in our industry, suggesting a product that’s close to nature – but this is not the case. What this actually means is you are looking at buying a synthetic oil. 

Synthetic versions of essential oils lack the complexity and balance found in natural extracts, depleting their potential benefits and, in some cases, posing risks to health.  

Therapeutic grade 

Another potential gotcha to be aware of. Used to imply a high quality of oil, this is a marketing term with no backing whatsoever. In fact, the industry has no regulatory authority to use terms such as ‘Therapeutic Grade’ and we urge customers to overlook them when considering where to buy their oils.  

Ingredients 

This one is a red herring. Legitimate pure essential oils will only say what they are made of – that being 100% pure essential oil. So, you can expect Lemongrass to read as 100% Pure Lemongrass Essential Oil rather than an exhausting list of X, Y and Z ingredients. 

Carrier Oils 

You might be wondering where carrier oils fit into this tale. The short answer is, in the exact same way as essential oils.  

While carrier oils play a different role in that they ‘carry’ essential oils to the skin, their authenticity remains the same. All carrier oils should have a botanical name on the label and should be extracted authentically from plant seeds, nuts or kernels. As with essential oils, don’t consider an ultra-low price point to be a good thing when it comes to quality – unless you know you’re buying from a reputable wholesaler like AWO!  


Which Essential Oils Are 100% Pure?

You can see by now how quality essential oils are something of a minefield.   

While we can’t make claims about any other oils on the market, we can tell you about AWO products!Here’s why you can trust our oils to be pure, high-quality products.   

- AWO only sells pure, natural, authentic oils (unless specifically stated otherwise)  

- Oils are obtained from the source of origin and shipped to our warehouse in Australia for bottling and resale.  

- AWO always lists a botanical name on its products. 

- Each oil remains in its original unadulterated state. 

- Oil product labels include the wording ‘100% Pure’. 

- Our prices are competitive because we are a wholesaler - NOT because our products are inauthentic. There is a major difference between the two! 

- We don’t use fancy jargon to hoodwink shoppers; we only use legitimate terms from the essential oils industry.  

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