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How to Tell if Essential Oils Are Pure or Fake

How to Tell if Essential Oils Are Pure or Fake

Many people find essential oils a soothing source of aromatherapy. The market has grown so much that, unfortunately, fakes have taken advantage. Here’s how to tell if essential oils are pure or fake.

Bottle Color

Essential oils degrade when exposed to light. As a result, true essential oils are packaged in dark amber or dark blue bottles. Of course, fakers know this too, and may choose packaging intended to deceive.

Complicating matters is how essential oils are regulated, or not. If an essential oil makes claim that it can provide treatment for a condition, like “reduces anxiety and depression,” the FDA sees it as a drug in the and it must seek FDA approval. Fakes may make such claims without seeking approval.

There is no international accepted “grading” system for essential oils, either. Claims that oils are of a “therapeutic” grade, or graded with letter codes like A, B, or C are just made up marketing ploys.

Pure Essential Oils Evaporate

Put a few drops of the oil you suspect may be a fake on a clean, thick piece of white paper. In a separate spot on the same sheet, put a few drops of olive or vegetable oil. Make sure you mark which one is which. Let them sit overnight. If the essential oil is still there in the morning, it’s not pure. The vegetable oil will leave a greasy mark, but the essential oil will have disappeared completely.

Whether the Label Includes the Botanical’s Scientific Name

One bottle might say it’s made from lavender, but if you don’t see the Latin name, it might be a fake. Reputable, knowledgeable brands tell you what species of plant is in the bottle. The label should also say “100% pure essential oil.” If it says “essence,” it may be a blend with another type of oil.

It Feels Greasy or It Smells Fake

A slimy, greasy feeling that leaves a residue on skin is a hint that the oil is fake. Real essential oils absorb quickly and don’t feel greasy or slick.

Pure essential oils smell real, not like heavy perfumes. Synthetic oils give off an unnatural scent that reveals the presence of additives. If the label says “fragrance,” the contents of the bottle are not pure essential oil.

The best way to tell whether essential oils are pure is through an expensive laboratory process called gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Check the brand’s website to see if they provide results from that kind of GC/MS lab test.

Some essential oil enthusiasts make their own essential oils at home using an oil extraction machine. That way, they know exactly what’s in the oil they produce.


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