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Essential Oil Adulteration 101

Did you know that there is no proven “hack” to tell if an oil is adulterated from home? Reading the ingredients actually will not let you know. Without specific lab testing, even a chemist won’t know if an oil is adulterated until they see the results. Lab tests analyze the individual components of oils to determine whether they are pure or not. There are three common ways oil is adulterated:


Aromachemical Adulteration

A common way that oils are adulterated, or even created in a lab, is by adding the individual chemicals, either natural or synthetic fossil fuel based, to create the oil. Additions of chemicals like linalool or beta-pinene can create the recipe for a specific oil.


Addition of Carrier Oils

Adding a carrier oil to a pure oil is another way to adulterate oils. This is usually done to “water” the oil down, thereby making a larger profit off a small yield. Common carrier oils used are cooking oils.


Similar Oils or their Isolates

By adding a similar oil or its isolates, a producer can create something that smells like another oil. Lavandin, for example, smells very similar to lavender and often appears in “lavender” oil. Producers can also use fractions of oils to get the chemical constituents. In the lavandin example, a producer can extract a chemical like linalyl acetate and add it to an oil.


Knowing how producers adulterate oils is important because it shows there are many ways in which your oil may not be pure. Adulterated oils change the aroma and medicinal values. Either you can purchase oils from producers who provide the reports of their tested oils, or have them tested yourself.




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Aromatic Plant Research Center (APRC) is a state-of-the-art laboratory that utilizes a variety of methods to detect adulteration and confirm the purity of natural products. Our executive advisory board is internationally renowned for quality control testing and expertise within the aromatic plant industry.

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