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Essential Oils Info

Today much of the lavender oil sold in the US is from the hybrid called “lavandin,” grown and distilled in China, Russia, France, and Tasmania. It is brought into France where it is cut with synthetic linalyl acetate to improve the fragrance. Then, propylene glycol, DEP, or DOP (solvents that have no smell which and add volume) are added. From there it is sold in the US as lavender oil.

Often lavandin is heated to evaporate the camphor, and then is further adulterated with synthetic linalyl acetate. Most consumers don’t know the difference and are happy to buy this type of lavender oil for $7 to $10 per half ounce in health food stores, beauty salons, grocery and department stores, and through mail order. This is one of the reasons why it is very important to know about the integrity of the company or vendor from which you purchase your essential oils.

Another great example of a commonly adulterated oil is Frankincense. The Frankincense resin that is sold in Somalia costs between $30,000 and $35,000 per ton. A great deal of time, 12 hours or more, is required to properly steam-distill this essential oil from the resin, making Frankincense essential oil extremely expensive.

Frankincense essential oil that sells for $25 per ounce or less is cheaply distilled with gum resins, alcohol, or other solvents, thus leaving the essential oil laden with harmful chemicals. Sadly, when these cut, synthetic and adulterated oils rashes, burns, or other irritations, people wonder why they have not gotten the benefit they had expected and then conclude that essential oils don’t have much value.

Some commercial statistics show that one large US corporation uses twice as much of a particular essential oil than is grown and produced in the entire world!

Where are these “phantom” essential oils coming from?

In France, production of true lavender oil (Lavendula angustifolia) dropped from 87 tons in 1967 to only 12 tons in 1998. During this same period the worldwide demand for lavender oil grew over 100 percent.

So where did essential oil marketers obtain enough lavender to meet the demand?

They probably used a combination of synthetic and adulterated oils. There are huge chemical companies on the east coast of the US that specialize in creating synthetic chemicals that mimic every common essential oil.

For every kilogram of pure essential oil that is produced, it is estimated there are between 10 and 100 kilograms of synthetic created.

Adulterated and mislabeled essential oils present dangers for consumers. One woman who had heard of the ability of lavender to heal burns used “lavender oil” purchased from her local health food store when she spilled boiling water on her arm. The pain intensified and the burn worsened, so later she complained that lavender oil was worthless for healing burns.

When her lavender oil was analyzed, it was found to be lavadin, the hybrid lavender that is chemically very different from pure Lavendula angustifolia.

Lavadin contains high levels of camphor (12-18 percent) and can itself burn the skin.

In contrast, true lavender contains virtually no camphor and has burn-healing agents not found in lavadin.

Adulterated oils that are cut with synthetic extenders can be very detrimental, causing rashes, burning, and skin irritations. Petrochemical solvents, such as dipropylene glycol and diethylphthalate, can all cause allergic reactions, besides being devoid of any therapeutic benefits.

Some beauty recipes using real lavender essential oil

An easy to make moisturizing facial mask using truly pure essential oils

Some people assume that because an essential oil label states that the essential oil is “100 % pure” that it will not burn their skin. This is not true.

Some pure essential oils may cause skin irritation if applied undiluted. Like orgeano, when applied to the skin of some people it may cause severe reddening. Citrus and spice oils, like orange, clove, and cinnamon, may also produce rashes. Even the terpenes in conifer oils, like pine, may cause irritation in some people.

Some writers have claimed that a few compounds, when isolated from the essential oil and tested in the lab, can exert toxic effects. Even so-called “nature Identical” essential oils (structured essential oils that have been chemically duplicated using 5 to 15 of the essential oil’s primary chemical compounds in synthetic form) can produce unwanted side effects or toxicities.

Isolated compounds may be toxic; however pure essential oils, in most cases, are not. This is because natural essential oils that are properly steam-distilled contain hundreds of different compounds, some of which balance and counteract each others effects.

Many tourists in Egypt are eager to buy local essential oils, especially lotus oil. Vendors convince tourists that the oils are 100 percent pure, going so far as to touch a lighted match to the neck of the oil container to show that the oil is not diluted with alcohol or other petrochemical solvents. However, this test provides no reliable indicator of purity. Many synthetic compounds can be added to an essential oil that are not flammable, including propylene glycol. Or, flammable solvents can be added to a vegetable base that will cause it to catch fire. Some natural essential oils that are high in terpenes can be flammable.