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  • Writer's pictureThe Essential Homemaker

Why GC/MS testing isn't enough for essential oils

Today I celebrate using essential oils for 7 years! I remember when I was first starting to use them. I was so confused. There were so many brands, so many options. They were are walmart, bath and body works, salon brands, etc. I wasn't sure where to start, so I just started researching the differences. I wanted to know why there were so many! After many hours of digging, I found that purity was the difference. Most of the essential oils on the market today are not actually pure, even though the label says so! Talk about frustrating.

What I found out was the essential oil area isn't regulated, not even by the FDA. So this means the marketing terms on the labels were meaningless, great. Here I thought when a label says 100% pure essential oils, that's what was in the bottle...100% pure essential oil, right? Wrong.

Since there are no standards for 100% pure essential oils, that means an essential oil with this label does not have to have pure essential oils in it.  These oils may be fragrance oils, have undisclosed fillers, stretchers, fragrance enhancements, synthetic chemicals, be completely lab created, or any other combination of problems. Basically, this is the least helpful and most abused of all the essential oil marketing terms.  Without an outside way to enforce quality and purity, companies are 100% self-policing.  Sadly most companies lack the resources to verify the purity of the oils they re-sell.

So now what? I want pure essential oils, but how to do I go about that? What do I look for to know if they are pure and not messed with? Well, I'm glad you asked. If you want pure oil, free of synthetic chemicals, undisclosed fillers, and undisclosed cheaper oils added then you need to take a hard look at the quality control process of the company. 

Some things to look into when choosing a brand of essential oils include:

Where do they get their oils? Do they do any testing to make sure of product purity?  One thing I am going to say very loud, so that I am very clear is this: GC/MS testing is not enough to show whether a product has subtle synthetic manipulation, so what tests do they do other than GC/MS? If they find an adulterated essential oil, what do they do? Do they dispose of it?  Send it back to the source?  Or do they re-sell it until they get complaints (this actually was the response that one company gave)?  An essential oil company who sells high quality products will be able to answer very in-depth questions about their quality control.  You may need to ask to talk with their research department, though, because most general customer service representatives don’t usually deal with these types of questions. (Click HERE for additional information on the pros, cons and limitations of GC/MS in relation to essential oils).

Why I do not use essential oils labeled as organic.

This term is only used with regards to how the plants were treated when they were growing, and has nothing to do with the essential oils. That's right, it has nothing to do with the essential oils themselves. I am interested in the potency, purity and efficacy of the oils I'm using. Don't get me wrong though, organic growing practices are important.  The company you choose to buy essential oils from also needs to know about harvesting, aging, and distilling to be able to make a good oil, a potent oil, not just grow plants organically. There is an art and science to good essential oil production.

At the end of my personal research journey, which took a great deal of time because that's how I do things. I dig and dig and dig until I get the answers I need to make a decision. I wanted to use pure essential oils only, with nothing added or taken away. Just essential oils. The only way to do this is to select a company that has extensive testing above and beyond the simplistic, little amount of information provided by GC/MS testing.

So let's look at a comprehensive testing panel that every single essential oil should undergo before use:

1. Organoleptic testing

2. Microbial testing

3. Gas chromatography

4. Mass spectrometry

5. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)

6. Chirality testing

7. Isotopic analysis

8. Heavy metal testing

If you'd like to learn more about each of these tests, what they mean, and how they impact the essential oils in your home click HERE.

If you are using essential oils, I highly recommend you look into the company, their practices, testing and purity. THEY SHOULD BE 100% TRANSPARENT. GC/MS is not telling of purity or potency, in addition 99% of essential oil users cannot even read a GC/MS report to know what it says.

If oils that undergo a high level of comprehensive testing is out of your budget, then use the best essential oils you can find for your current budget. If you have one or two oils that you use more often than others, then maybe consider trying to use a highly tested oil for those only. I know we all have budgets, that's just life. But it is very important to know what you are using. Most of us diffuse oils, which means they are going straight up our nose and into our system, or we apply topically which also get into our system. Using oils that are not thoroughly vetted, and tested could mean you are doing more harm than good to ourselves and our loved ones.

If you are interested in trying these oils, message me. I can sell samples for you to try before you buy. I can charge by the drop so that you can save a little before jumping all in if you'd like. This is how I started. I ordered a custom made mini-kit of oils of my choosing for my family.

Here is the LINK to look around at the essential oils I choose to use for myself, my family and my business. If you'd like to try some oils by the drop, just let me know! Or if you have any other questions about oils. I'm no expert, but I have do my fair share of education, including a degree in Chemistry and a degree in Biology. I've done lots of research as well, and will do my very best to help you in any way I can!


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