There is a lot of confusing information on the internet about essential oil quality and since currently there is no certification body to oversee the quality of essential oils or aromatherapy oils things are easily muddled. As many search for superior quality essential oils for all manner of wellness the task of locating accurate and complete information can be daunting.
When I read articles on the internet it has appears that most people seem to focus on a handful of tests, such as: gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), ISO, and AFNOR. And while there is validity to each of these they are either not complete and/or they are not a certification of quality in and of themselves.
To assist those searching for which types of tests Young Living Essential Oils does perform I have compiled the list here. Many of these tests are expensive and require very specialized testing equipment, of which most essential oil companies do not own and others simply don’t use for testing because they are not selling superior quality essential oils to consumers. Instead they are selling perfume quality, which is the lowest possible quality, all the more reason to make your own perfumes.
Young Living (YL) has become the world leader in essential oils because they have always taken measures to ensure purity and superior quality. Which is why others frequently compare their oils to YL and also promote a blend as being the same. I would like to point out briefly that when a company creates an essential oil blend and provides a sheet with their equivalent blend they are only referring to what they believe are the single essential oils that make up a particular YL blend, this by no means them stating that they are using the same superior quality essential oils to make their blend. Their blends are cheaper because they are using cheaper quality essential oils.
Young Living also tests their competitors essential oils, the differences are striking. Which is why, after 12+ years, I have not switched to any other brand. I had used another brand of essential oil prior to discovering YL, only because YL was not even in business when I began using essential oils.
In 1990 I had phoned every essential oil company that had a phone listing and grilled them because I was searching for the superior quality oils that could be ingested. After dozens of calls I went with the company that performed the ‘least’ amount of adulteration to their “certified organic 100% pure essential oils”. Because I knew how those oils were distilled I opted to only use them to make household cleaners and air fresheners. I never ingested them and I also never applied them to my body. I was sick and tired of paying high prices for all-natural cleaning products that used the lowest quality essential oils and decided to make my own. While this was a step up it was a far cry from the quality I was searching long and hard to find.
I discovered YL nearly 7 years later and immediately knew after asking many specific questions, can they be ingested was one, and smelling the YL oils that I realized I had found what I was searching for so many years.
Before getting into the testing YL performs I need to point out that YL coined the term “therapeutic-grade”. The reason was to help consumers distinguish between various qualities. While some may not like that YL took this upon themselves it still was intended as a determining factor for consumers since there is no standard or certification for essential oils; that may be coming to an end though.
To my knowledge, there is one other essential oil company who also uses the term “therapeutic-grade”, whose name I will not mention. I will say this, over the years this company has purchased essential oils that YL has tested and rejected because they lacked purity and quality. Unfortunately, this other company does turn around and sell those inferior essential oils as “therapeutic-grade”. You can distinguish their essential oils by one noticeable trait, they all (no matter which plant the oil comes from) have a distinct ‘sweet’ (nauseatingly to many) smell; anyone who knows anything about plants knows that each plant does have distinct differences in odor, to have an odor trait run across all species of essential oils is a very clear sign that something is not quite right.
In the meantime, YL is no longer using the term “therapeutic-grade” because it has been taken by other companies who can put that term on their oils no matter what the quality. Currently, YL has informed us that we will just have to use the term “genuine pure essential oils” until the certification standards are set by the FDA and there is a standardization and certification board. Rest assured though that when you hear or read about YL oils being the best out there, it is true; despite what you may have heard or read, it’s not MLM or marketing hype.
Additionally, when you read posts on this blog and we say these recipes and uses only pertain to the YL brand we are saying that for your safety, it is not marketing hype, or fear mongering. If you decide to not buy YL oils that’s fine we are not here to convince you, we write to educate and assist others. Just know that our uses, tips and recipes are based on our ‘knowing’ our supplier. We know enough about what goes on in the industry to inform you to never substitute another brand for YL and especially… NEVER ingest another brand of essential oil, ever!
This is part 1 of a series on fact from fiction, you might also enjoy:
Quality: Where are Young Living Essential Oils Sourced
Testing that Young Living Performs on Essential Oils
Young Living staff subject every incoming lot of essential oils to a battery of tests including gas chromatography, GC/MS, heavy metals analysis, Microbial, Flash Point, Optical Rotation, Refractive Index, Specific Gravity and FT-NIR.
Essential oils that exhibit even the slightest hint of possible tampering or adulteration-even if provided from a trusted supplier-are sent to outside laboratories for even more in-depth dissection using techniques such as carbon isotope analysis.
Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS): is a method that combines the features of gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample.
Heavy metal analysis: Testing for heavy metals.
Microbial: Testing for microbial components.
Flash Point: The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid or solid gives off enough vapor to form a flammable air-vapor mixture near its surface. The lower the flash point, the greater the fire hazard. The flash point is an approximate value and should not be taken as a sharp dividing line between safe and hazardous conditions. The flash point is determined by a variety of test methods which give different results. Two types of methods are abbreviated as OC (open cup) and CC (closed cup).
Optical Rotation: Optical rotation is the turning of the plane of linearly polarized light about the direction of motion as the light travels through certain materials.
Refractive Index: The refractive index or index of refraction of a substance is a measure of the speed of light in that substance. It is expressed as a ratio of the speed of light in vacuum relative to that in the considered medium.
Specific Gravity: Specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of a volume of a sample to the weight of a known standard (in this case, water) of equal volume (YL actually uses the Pycnometer method).
Other Standards Used by Young Living in Assuring Quality
All of YL’s essential oils are verified that none are “rectified”. To be “rectified” means that an oil has been distilled more than once and many key constituents may be removed. Thus, our essential oils are pure and only distilled once. They are not considered “purified”, “rectified”, or “re-distilled”.
After much research and discussion, the YL Product Support Team has found that EOBBD (Essential Oil Botanically and Biochemically Defined) testing is not an industry-accepted method of testing and is only used as a measure of quality by one company.
The Young Living standard goes beyond organic in purity, scope, and potency. Freedom from toxins, heavy metals, and chemicals is just the beginning. Equally important is an oil’s optimal therapeutic profile of phytochemicals,
antioxidants, etc. Our focus on activity and results is what guarantees our customers the bioactivity, potency, and living energy whereon we have built our unrivaled superior quality reputation.
Young Living does not use aging or vacuuming with any of our essential oils.
There are many different kinds of chemicals and adulterants that could possibly be found in essential oils. Most tests YL conducts are designed to help determine if something has been added to the oils. No one test is perfect in identifying everything.
GC is the most commonly done test performed on our essential oils. This test can help in identify if there is a solvent (such as ethanol, hexane, and other light molecular weight solvents) present in the oils. It can also help identify if plastizers from plastics have leeched into the oils.
Optical rotation (polarimeter) helps identify an oil is spiked with a synthetic component.
FT-NIR is used to give a fingerprint of the oil to help YL get an overall idea of what is in the oil. If the FT-NIR test does not match up it usually indicates the oil is not 100% pure.
On questionable oils, such as those believed have been spiked with synthetics, YL sends them out for carbon isotope analysis.
Articles by Evelyn Vincent, Young Living Independent Distributor #476766
"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." ~ R. Buckminster Fuller