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6 Tips for Buying Essential Oils

The Simple Guide to Natural Health coverEssential oils are very popular right now, but some products on the market are better than others. Do you know how to find the top-quality bottles? Melanie St. Ours, a clinical herbalist and the author of THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO NATURAL HEALTH, shares 6 guidelines for selecting the best essential oils for your home.

Essential oils aren’t true oils; they’re delicate compounds that evaporate readily into the air and give each plant species its characteristic fragrance. These are potent ingredients that carry significant risks when used improperly. Treat them with respect and you’ll find that essential oils are a joy to use, are easy to store, and offer delightful ways to perfume your home, enhance your mood, and combat microbes.

You’ll learn more about essential oils and how to use them in THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO NATURAL HEALTH, but be sure to stick to the following guidelines as you shop to make sure you’re getting high-quality oils without adulterants or unreasonably high markups. After you educate yourself about what various oils look and smell like when they’re well made, you’ll be able to tell the difference.

  • Do some homework on the manufacturer before you buy. Has the company been reprimanded by the FDA? Do they advocate unsafe practices, such as taking essential oils by mouth? If so, you shouldn’t trust that company as a source of safe, unadulterated products.
  • When companies use a process called gas chromatography to test and validate the chemical makeup of their essential oils, it indicates a high level of quality control. Responsible manufacturers often make gas chromatography reports available free of charge to any customer who requests them. Check a company’s website to see if it mentions this process, or email their customer service department to find out if they use it.
  • Avoid buying essential oils from companies that use terms like therapeutic grade. There is no regulatory standard or certification process for such terms. The words are meaningless and misleading. Evaluate the oils and the company on the basis of other factors in this list.
  • Reputable suppliers almost always package essential oils in dark glass bottles to protect them from light. Snow Lotus ( is one trustworthy company that is an exception to this rule.
  • Make sure that the listing for each oil includes the plant’s Latin name (for example, Lavandula officinalis and Lavandula angustifolia are two different species of lavender), the country where it was harvested, and how it was extracted.
  • Avoid essential oils extracted with hexane or other solvents since this process can hamper the essential oil’s medicinal properties. Worse, the bottle may contain traces of solvents that could pose a health risk. The exception to this rule is rose absolute, which is safe to use when it comes from a reputable company.

For more advice on all-natural remedies, including do-it-yourself recipes to treat (and prevent) common ailments, pick up a copy of THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO NATURAL HEALTH by Melanie St. Ours.


Looking for the right kind of essential oil to help you fight what’s ailing you? Check out this list of 15 essences and their healing properties.


Excerpted from The Simple Guide to Natural Health by Melanie St. Ours. Copyright © 2018 by Simon & Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.


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