With the growing popularity of essential oils on the market, there are also an increasing number of manufacturers. For your safety and the safety of those you love, it is CRITICAL to understand the various grades of essential oils and know the quality you are purchasing.

First, research the manufacturer. How long have they been in business? Do they have complaints against them with the BBB? Do they have recalls on their products?

Next, check the bottles carefully. Real essential oils are the volatile oils extracted from a part(s) of plants. Therefore, the label should include the botanical name of the plant. If that information is missing, don’t buy that oil.

Check for synthetic additives. If the bottle includes words such as “perfume oil,” “fragrance oil,” or “nature identical oil,” it contains synthetic compounds that are NOT safe for aromatherapy purposes. Leave those “oils” on the shelf.

Know the grades of oils. Just as you received grades in school, there are also various grades of essential oils. Let’s look at these one at a time.

  • Synthetic – These are not actually essential oils, but are often passed off as such. It is possible for these to contain harmful chemicals when used for aromatherapy. Avoid these oils. If you have already purchased such oil, throw it away. After all, we are using essential oils for natural treatments, and the synthetic compounds negate this altogether.
  • Therapeutic Oils – Many oil labels contain the words “therapeutic grade.” The problem with this terminology is that there have not been any set standards created for this category yet. Thus, one company’s level of quality may not be the same as another. While these oils are typical of high quality, research the manufacturer’s quality assurance and testing procedures.
  • Food Grade – Many oils are food grade oils. This term does NOT mean you can ingest the oil simply because it adheres to this standard. In fact, this specification also has various interpretations depending on the company manufacturing the oil. According to the FDA, Food Grade means “Essential oils, oleoresins (solvent-free), and natural extractives (including distillates) … are generally recognized as safe for their intended use…” Visit fda.gov for a full list of these oils. Now, the term Food Grade will be removed from all oils listed for aromatherapy. Companies will not be able to label products for both internal and topical application simultaneously.
  • Organic – Organic oils that are certified organic have to meet the highest standards in the industry. These oils are regulated more than any other grade of oil and must be found to be free from pesticides. When possible, organic oils are a great buy. However, they are also more expensive.
  • Other Grades – Some companies will create a proprietary term for essential oils. They claim to be the “only one” that makes oil of this grade. That claim is misleading as they trademark this phrase and no other oils are tested against nor can any other oil carry this “seal.” Don’t fall for these marketing techniques. Check out the company and verify that their oils deliver the quality promised.

If you would like to know the quality of the oils we carry, download the Essential Oil Purity Guide and then visit NowFoods.com for more information. We love that Now Foods is transparent in their practices and adhere to high-quality standards and that is why you find their products on our shelves.