How to Know If Your Essential Oils Are Pure

Friday, October 27, 2017

How to Know If Your Essential Oils Are Pure

If you are into aromatherapy like me, then most probably you have already started collecting essential oils as part of your DIY kit. Currently, I see a lot of suppliers selling essential oils on various online marketplace like Lazada and Shopee (even on Facebook). If you’re not careful, then you might get trick to buy essential oils that are not “pure”. Why is it important that you only buy high quality and 100% pure essential oils? It is because essential oils that have been adulterated (e.g. mixed with another ingredient) will not offer the same therapeutic benefits as pure essential oils. We know too well that essential oils are quite expensive so we need to be sure that we are getting the real deal. Here are some simple tests that will help you identify if your essential oils are pure and not loaded with cheap fillers.

Water Test

It is a known fact that oil and water don’t mix together. This is the reason why when I’m making a room spray, I blend the essential oil in alcohol so that it will mix with water. Basically, if you add essential oil into water and the oil just floats on top, then your essential oil is pure. However, if the essential oil magically blends in the water, then it is most likely diluted with a solvent (e.g. unscented alcohol). Always remember: pure undiluted essential oils will not mix with water based on their chemistry.

Paper Test

Some of the common fillers that suppliers add in essential oils are vegetable and mineral oils. This is actually the most commonly used trick by suppliers into making people think that their essential oil is pure. In reality, if you add a few drops of orange essential oil into a carrier oil, the carrier oil will smell like orange essential oil so most consumers will never think that their essential oil has been diluted. Now, one important thing to note about essential oils: they will evaporate if exposed to air for a long period of time. This is where the paper test comes in. Put a drop of essential oil you want to test on a piece of white paper and leave it there for 24 hours. The expectation is that pure essential oil should evaporate without leaving any oily residue. On the other hand, if it evaporates too quickly (e.g. within 30 minutes), then most probably the essential oil is diluted with an alcohol and not with a vegetable or mineral oil.

Container Test

Ever wonder why essential oils are always stored in glass containers? It’s because pure and undiluted essential oils have strong chemical compounds that can deteriorate plastic containers that are not chemical-resistant. Again, I’m talking about undiluted essential oils. You can safely use PET plastic containers to store products blended with essential oils (e.g. lotion, massage oil, etc.) since they have already been diluted with either a carrier oil or water. To perform this test, just add a few drops of essential oil to a disposable plastic cup and wait for an hour. If the plastic cup melted, then your essential oil is definitely undiluted.


Pure essential oils are usually expensive because the process of extracting essential oil from a plant is not easy. For instance, it usually takes 200 kg of lavender flowers to extract just 1 kg of lavender essential oil. In retail market, a tiny 10ml bottle of lavender essential oil normally costs between Php150 to Php300. So if you happen to see a large 100ml bottle of lavender essential oil that sells for Php250, then beware because that is most probably not pure (price is too good to be true).

GC/MS Test

If you really want to be sure about the purity and authenticity of your essential oils, then you can ask for a copy of GC/MS test report of your essential oils from your supplier. Gas Chromatography (GC) / Mass Spectrometry (MS) is a testing method that is used to breakdown the chemical components of the essential oil and to show the percentage of each of these components. The GC/MS test result can accurately identify if the essential oil is contaminated with other chemicals or additives.

Finally, my best advice is to always buy your essential oils from reputable suppliers. Read previous customer reviews of the supplier, it’s one way to verify the supplier’s reputation with regards to the essential oils they’re selling. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask questions to your supplier. It is really a plus point for me if the supplier is knowledgeable about the essential oils he’s selling (e.g. shelf life, usage rate and extraction process of the essential oil).

Have you done any of those tests before on your essential oils? If you do, share your experience on the comment section below.

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