It’s one thing to purchase an essential oil. Purchasing a pure one, however, is a whole other story. Ideally, an essential oil is a liquified version of a particular aromatic flower, herb, or plant—nothing more, nothing less. The only problem? It’s nearly impossible to know what’s inside an essential oil once it’s packaged in a vial. And, unfortunately, there are A TON of conniving oilbolaryos who will try and pass off counterfeits as the good stuff.
Worry not—there are a number of ways to avoid the problem altogether. Here are 5 things to consider when purchasing your next essential oil. Just scroll!

1. APPEARANCE

There’s no way to know an essential oil’s purity on looks alone. However, a “paper test,” will tell you whether it’s pure or not. Just place a tiny amount of the oil you’re testing on white paper. If, after 10 minutes, it leaves an extra ring of oil behind, it’s likely the essential oil contains traces of nut, seed, or vegetable oils. Of course, there are exceptions. Chamomile, patchouli, and vetiver, among others, have a heavy consistency, which lends them a darker color and murkier appearance.

2. PACKAGING

What’s your essential oil packaged in? Clear plastic or amber glassware containers? Well, apparently, the package is just as important as the essential oil itself. Pure essential oil typically comes in amber glassware vials that help protect it against ultraviolet heat, and keep the oil’s integrity in check. An essential oil with a plastic container, on the other hand, isn’t ideal at all. The essential oil can react with the plastic, and thus, interfere with the oil’s purity or chemical composition.

3. POUR

Aside from amber glassware containers, your typical essential oil comes with a “orifice reducer”—A.K.A., the plug that you will notice after unscrewing the cap. It not only controls the amount of oil that comes out at once, it also prolongs the oil’s shelf life. This is important as essential oil is prone to oxidization and the orifice reducer lessens the oil’s exposure to air. Although there are essential oils that come with a rubber pipet, choosing one with an orifice reducer will make your essential oil last you much longer.

4. CONSISTENCY

The easiest way to identify an essential oil’s consistency is using your own sense of touch. Rub any essential oil with an equal amount of nut, seed, or vegetable oil between your thumbs. Afterward, try and notice the oil’s texture: a true essential oil is neither too oily nor too powdery—it’s just right. If not, it’s likely your oil isn’t pure and contains other hidden ingredients. As is the case with an essential oil’s appearance, though, there are exceptions. Think: chamomile, patchouli, and vetiver, and other, more viscous essential oils.

5. AROMA

Like a fine wine, an essential oil never smells the same way twice. The amount of rainfall, the air temperature, the quality of the soil, among other factors, all influence the aroma of an essential oil, thereby altering it year-on-year. The changes in aroma, however, are not an indication of its chemical composition. This remains consistent (or at least it should), no matter the weather. On the other hand, when an oil’s aroma is unchanging, it likely contains synthetic ingredients in order to achieve a certain olfactory profile.

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