We are asked often about the quality of the Essential oils that we sell. Many times the inquiries ask us questions
about things such as:
Are they Therapeutic quality and what does that mean?
What kind of tests are run to assure they are pure?
Are they Organic?
Your oils are priced so reasonably compared to other sites, Why?
Do they meet AFNOR or ISO standards?
Why do oils smell different?
Can they be taken Internally?? (Yes & No)
Just SCROLL down this page to see the answer to these and other questions .
Q. What is Therapeutic quality and what does that mean?
A. Essential oils do not have a classification or grading system established by any industry standard but we will put it in "Laymans" terms for you to be able to better understand what quality can mean in the essential oil industry.
First and lowest quality is the essential oils used in Food and Flavoring industry. They do not possess the properties we look for in Pure Therapeutic essential oils as they are added to and maniupulated to make a consistent product that will reveal the same flavor as is expected time and again in the industry.
Next is the essential oils used by perfumers. They smell good but do not necessarily have the contituent we look for in Therapeutic aromatherapy. In fact the Perfumer and Food quality essential oils are often found to be adulterated and extended. Many times synthetic (man-made and/or petroleum based) materials have been added to them to achieve a 'certain' taste or smell the manufacturer needs or wants.
The Third and highest quality of essential oils are those that are PURE and true plant essenses - coming from one plant species. This is the Best of the Best. They are not adulterated or altered in any way.
Please be aware there are some companies (namely MLM's) that tout there oils are "Therapeutic Grade" or "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" Essential oils.
This is only THEIR companies 'grading' system. As stated above in the Essential oil INDUSTRY as a whole, there is NO SUCH Classification or Grading. It is just THEIR own companies designation.
These types of companies will also have you 'believing' ONLY their oils are 'therapeutic', which is totally wrong.
We, for one, of the many dozens of Professional Aromatherapist have sought out, and supply to our clients and customers Therapeutc QUALITY essential oils.
All our oils come from ONE Plant Species and are distilled or extracted at the proper harvesting times to assure that the best and purest essenses are obtained.
Q. Are they all therapeutic quality and of organic nature?
A. Yes, all our essential oils are the highest quality and of an “organic nature”.
Again, our suppliers test using Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to make sure they are PURE oils and that no adulteration, fillers, or extenders have been used.
Also the GC/MS testing tells us the plant the oils come from have not had or been used or near Herbicides or Pesticides. Although essential oils are no longer classified as organic as such, some farms are able to have their crops (the plants) ECOCERT certified. This is one of the few organic certifiers for essential oils.
The thing that is most important in using essential oils is that they are the TRUE oil from the species of plant that is on the label and that they have been tested PURE by GC/MS testing.
Our suppliers as stated above are very particular about oils they are selling for Therapeutic aromatherapy. They actually perform about 4-6 different tests to make sure we are getting what we ordered.
Q. About the word "organic"?
A. Right now in the aromatherapy industry, there is much controversy about the term Organic being used. Our suppliers of the oils we sell have decided to not use the term organic. But instead to use the following:
All (our) Oils are pesticide and herbicide free according to GC/MS analytical results.
All the oils we sell are tested to be Herbicide free and Pesticide free by Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry. To Quote one of our Suppliers in documentation from them - “Due to impending changes in legal requirements concerning the use of the word "Organic" and the certification requirements, we are no longer using the term "Organic" to describe any essential oils. Instead we are using the term "Pesticide Free" and "Herbicide Free" to describe these products. “
About the use of the word “Organic” in the USA in products that are not used for human consumption. The USDA does not certify essential oils. (If they did it would be for the Food industry and the essential oils used in the food industry are inferior to the quality of essential oils we sell.)
There are other testing facilities that do certify organic but only for plants grown in the USA not in other parts of the world. So labeling an essential oil ‘organic’ really doesn’t mean anything unless it is ECOCERT as far as the essential oil industry is concerned for oils produced outside the USA. We are not saying that oils aren’t certified or certifiable, but not according to the accepted standards set by ECOCERT and the essential oil industry.
That is why our oils are tested "Pesticide Free" and "Herbicide Free" . Which if you look up the meaning of the word “organic” it usually indicates plants grown without the use of herbicides and pesticides. Which if pesticides or herbicides had been used in or near the plants being grown for essential oil purposes those residues would show up in the testing that is done on the oils we sell.
So although we don’t label our oils as ‘organic’ it is because unless they are ECOCERT, the label ‘organic’ shouldn’t be used. More importantly the testing tells us that there are no chemicals or substances in the essential oil that is not suppose to be there. There is nothing added nor are there any residues of any kind.
They are guaranteed to be 100% Purest and Highest quality Essential oils.
(“100% Pure Essential oils” is stated on our labels for the 10ml, 30 ml & 50 ml bottles – the other smaller labels don’t have enough space on them to include that statement).
We don’t know if you have seen it in the news lately, but there is again a big controversy about the use of the USDA Organic Labeling. It appears the USDA is rethinking about how the labeling can be used and is allowing non-organic ingredients in processed foods to be used and still allowing the labeling “organic’ to be used. The verdict is still not out on the use of the term "organic" used in personal care products. Ugh!
Q. Your oils are priced so reasonably compared to other sites, Why?
A. These oils are not your cheap diluted type essential oils that you buy at health food stores or websites that also sell fragrance oils (you have to be really careful with those types of websites).
Our prices are low because we have eliminated all the middle men. Our suppliers take pride in only supplying the highest quality essential oils. We have searched long and hard to find top quality essential oils for use in Therapeutic Aromatherapy.
So, please, rest assured we only provide 100% PURE ‘pesticide free, herbicide free' and the Highest Quality Essential oils. These are top quality oils for use in Therapeutic Aromatherapy.
Since Alan and Penny are the only employees, we don't have a lot of overhead or other expenses.
We keep our packaging simple and necessary. Believe it or not, the majority of the cost of many products is not the cost of the product itself but the cost of packaging. Therefore, we keep our packaging and labeling simple and what is required.
This not only enables us to set our prices to be enough for us to make a reasonable living, but are also priced so everyone can purchase and use high quality - essential oils.
Q. Are the oils that are labeled ORGANIC or ECOCERT more therapeutic?
We doubt it. Just because an plant has been grown by farming techniques to be considered grown organically, doesn't necessarily make the plant or it's essenses better.
Think about this for a moment - If the soils are depleted of nutrients and the growing conditions for that year are poor, even though it is Certified organic, doesn’t necessarily mean the oil is higher quality than an oil produced elsewhere on the planet. Growing conditions, the soil, the weather, sunshine and rain, and harvest times are going to give you the highest quality oils.
Another point to remember is most plant oils are produced from plants grown in the wild or are just naturally grown Organic. That is just the nature of how and where the plants are grown and cannot always be classified as such by their producers.
Also remember that the producers of most of these plant oils have been producing oils for several decades and in order to stay in business, they too must grow the most optimal plants to produce the oils the customers are demanding.
What we look for are oils that have tested to be ‘true’ to the oil of that plant and have no adulterations. Therefore only the ECO CERT oils are labeled as Organic on the bottles.
We hope we haven’t confused you about the explanations. All I can tell you is that our oils are some of the highest quality oils available in the USA. If you want only ECOCERT oils we do have suppliers for many of the oils that are ECOCERT. Many people will not pay the exorbitant prices these oils cost. Often times ECOCERT oils will have a price tag several times higher than an oil that was tested ‘pesticide free’.
Q. Do they meet AFNOR or ISO standards?
A. One of our suppliers chemists put it best - - Most EO companies do not take the AFNOR standards seriously because the French wrote the standards to conform to the specific types of oils that they could produce. ISO is even less informative than AFNOR and really meaningless to anyone who is serious about essential oils.
Our suppliers and the standards they require assure us (and YOU) that the quality of our oils are above and SUPERIOR to the standards set by the AFNOR/ISO.
Q. Does AFNOR Certify Oils?
A. As for AFNOR, it does not certify any oils. What they are is a member of the ISO. AFNOR is the French based version of the ISO that certifies companies in France that are using good manufacturing standards, such as batching and labeling, etc, etc.
The equivalent to AFNOR in the US is ANSI, again they are a company that does standardization for companies that are in the US (any company that manufactures anything from shampoos to car parts and everything in between).
Essential oils used for Therapeutic aromatherapy should not be standardized as that would mean they have been adulterated or contaminated.
Instead, what we look for are oils that have been tested by GC/MS and tested for purity.
Our main supplier not only tests by GC/MS but does several other tests to guarantee us we are getting the highest quality and purest oils available. If any oil does not pass ALL of their testing it is refused and they will not accept any of the oil until the next harvest and then they re-test.
Q. Can they be taken Internally, ingested?
A. In the US, essential oils can not be recommended for internal use unless they are produced, packaged and inspected by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regulations. Essential oils that would be "okayed" by them would be of a food quality are not of the highest quality. Most essential oils are GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the USDA.
In therapeutic aromatherapy, we use the highest quality essential oils available and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) considers Aromatherapy as part of the cosmetic industry.
If we would make a statement that essential oils can be taken internally, then the FDA may consider that we are prescibing "drugs", which is a whole different ballgame and we have to follow their rules and regulations if we want to be in business.
Therefore, for safety reasons, the highest quality essential oils are labeled for external use only.
Although we do know, there are many people that will use the highest quality essential oils internally. Using essential oils mixed with water as a mouthwash or gargle is not considered taking them internally.
It is a known and proven fact, that most essential oils will produce better effects when inhaled or used as a massage (absorbed through the skin). So, taking essential oils internally will not necessarily be better than the proven methods of inhalation and massage.
Q. Why do the oils smell different even though they are the same oil?
We are always concerned when a customer asks why the oils smell is different.
It is very possible the reason for the difference in the smell is because the last batch of that particular oil we sold was from a different distillation/harvest.
As you may or may not know the season and growing condition (weather, precipitation, etc), harvest times, etc can all affect the essential oils for any given year. Just as wine – each year the grape crop can produce a variation in the wines, again due to the same reasons for the differences in Essential oils.
All the oils we sell are tested by Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry to assure us they are PURE and are not contaminated, or adulterated in any way.
As to the exact processes, we are not a chemists either, but what we know is that the tests are run on analyzing machines that tell what chemical components, (constituents) are in each essential oil. It tells what’s there and what shouldn’t be there. The suppliers we use, have chemists that look for a several things once they get the analysis. One of which is to make sure the quality of the oil meets that particular essential oils constituents standards.
Each essential oil should have certain constituents in them, some of the constituents should make up a certain percentages – this tells them the quality of the oils.
Also, is to make sure pesticides and herbicide residues are not present or anything else that is not considered part of that particular plants essential oil. This tells us that we are getting pure oils free from contaminants and adulterations.
I hope this helps answer your questions. We want you to know we would not sell any oil we feel is not of the highest quality for use in therapeutic aromatherapy. We want to use and sell only the best to you and others.
Q. How long does it take for the oils to get from the extraction facility to you?
A – Unfortunately we cannot give you a specific answer for this as we do not deal directly with the distillers. Our suppliers do.
We do know that our main suppliers are extremely careful about the oils they buy. They test them and if they do not meet their strict criteria they will not purchase them at all.
Q. Which oils get better with age?
A. Several essential oils will get better with age. Notably, oils like patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, myrrh, frankincense, spikenard and rose.
Q. Quantities needed? How much should I buy?
A. That depends on your specific projects or products you are planning on doing? Most people will start with 4ml or 10 ml bottles of several of the oils. Then buy larger quantities as they find out what blends their customers like the best.
No essential oil should ever go to waste. Even if you feel the oil may be too old for therapeutic reasons, many oils can still be used for room scenting or in soap making. Again, keeping the oils cool, not leaving the bottles open for extended periods of time all help keep your oils qualities longer.
Q. What is the Shelf Life of your oils?
A. Shelf- life varies with different essential oils and as you asked above, some will actually improve with age.
Some important things to remember is to keep them in a cool, dark room. Heat and light can affect the shelf life.
One of the most detrimental factors is the exposure to oxygen. In other words, keep the caps on as much as possible. When a larger bottle is low enough, tranfer the left over oil to a smaller bottle. The less 'head space' you have the less likely oxygen trapped in the bottle will have a chance to deteriorate your precious essential oils.
We keep our oils in a room about 60-65 degrees (and sometimes even cooler). Rose Otto we keep refrigerated as it wants to evaporate when not kept in a solid state. We have found the lighter the viscosity of the essential oil ( with exception of rose otto) the shorter the shelf life such as any of the citrus oils.
They can be kept about 12-18 months if kept in a very cool room. Other oils anywhere from 2-5 years with exception of those that improve with age – they can be kept indefinitely. Unfortunately, we do not have any listing in any of our reference books that states the actual shelf life of the oils.
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Birch Hill Happenings Aromatherapy, LLC
2898 County Road 103
Barnum, MN 55707-8808
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