2. Purity Testing & Grading
While essential oil purity really is a thing, claims around what makes an essential oil pure (or not) are not always accurate.
Many small vendors don’t do their own testing, because properly batch-testing essential oils is expensive. At Fern & Petal, we batch-test every oil to make sure you are getting the cleanest products. Yes, it’s expensive and it’s more than worth it to us.
Purity-Testing At Fern & Petal
We’ve tested a lot of oils from different suppliers over the years. It is not uncommon to find providers with impure oils; we have even found some well-known local suppliers to have impure oils from our testing.
We do our GCMS testing through Phytochemia. GCMS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) is a testing method that breaks an oil down into its core components.
These components are then analyzed and compared against a control sample (or reference sample) that is known to be pure.
If this sample does not match the compounds within a certain degree, or different compounds are found within it, those discrepancies are noted in the results.
Essential Oil Grades
One of the most common questions we get are about whether our oils are “food or “therapeutic” grade oils.
The truth is, there is no federally regulated essential oil grading system in Canada or the United States. Essential oil grades are marketing terms used by companies to classify their oils separately from others.
There is also no industry standard for what makes an essential oil "food" or "therapeutic” grade. This means that one company's ‘food grade’-labelled essential oil can be entirely different from another, if they have any internal requirements for what that grade actually means.
At Fern & Petal, we have consciously chosen not to use any of these essential oil grade marketing terms. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible, while providing the highest quality oil available.
At-Home Essential Oil Purity Testing
There is a lot of information circling about testing essential oils at home. Maybe you’ve heard of freeze testing, blot testing, smell testing, drop testing, or styrofoam testing, to name a few. While some of these tests may provide fringe or placebo results, the only accurate way to evaluate an essential oil is through GCMS testing.
Essential oils are often cut with agents to increase the profitability of the farms selling them, while some chemical fragrances are sold as true essential oils.
There is no accurate way to test for any cutting agents without a proper, professional analysis of an essential oil.
Unfortunately, small vendors who do not have the resources to properly test their oils, may truly believe they are pure themselves.
Label indicators like: Latin/inci/Scientific name, origin, purity, cost, etc. are not always good indicators of the quality because of this.