pure essential oils

Essential oils: how to identify their purity

  • By Τελώνη Ανδρονίκη
  • 06/21/2023

Many fake and chemically altered ‘essential oils’ are out there waiting on shop shelves to enter your home. If you are new to the world of essential oils or if you already own some, let’s explore some criteria to determine their purity. Here are some easy steps to ensure you are buying the good stuff.

Why is it important to buy authentic and pure essential oils?

Essential oils that have been altered will not deliver the health benefits you expect. At worst, synthetic chemicals can cause various disorders, especially through inhalation or skin application. Be aware that diffusing chemical fragrances instead of essential oils can lead to tiny harmful drops entering and remaining in your lungs. Although they might have a strong aroma, they are detrimental to your health.

What does ‘pure essential oil’ mean?

Essential oils are volatile, concentrated liquids (easily evaporated at normal temperatures) extracted from plants through distillation or mechanical methods. They come from various plant parts, including buds, flowers, bark, seeds, leaves, twigs, herbs, wood, fruits, resins, and roots. Essentially, they are the plant’s spirit!

Pure essential oils should be free from chemical fillers and additives. They are the extracted plant’s volatile liquid in its purest form.

How to identify the purity of essential oils

If you do not want to conduct laboratory testing for the purity of your essential oils, here are some easy ways to detect pure essential oils from the fake ones:

  1. Label Information:

    • The label of a 100% pure essential oil should contain specific information.
    • Look for terms like ‘pure essential oil’ or ‘authentic essential oil.’ Bottles labeled simply as ‘essential oil,’ ‘fragrant oil,’ etc., do not guarantee 100% purity.
    • The label should include the Latin name of the plant (e.g., Lavandula angustifolia for lavender) and not just the common name.
    • Preferably, the country of origin should also be mentioned.
  2. Price:

    • Be cautious of extremely cheap essential oils. Some essential oils, like rose, jasmine, and vanilla, are expensive because large quantities of petals or plant material are needed to extract a small amount of oil.
    • For example, if you see rose ‘essential oil’ for less than €60-70 per 10ml, be suspicious of its authenticity and purity.
  3. Plant-Specific Information:

    • Some plants, like violets or vanilla, cannot produce essential oils. If you see ‘violet essential oil’ or ‘vanilla essential oil’ on a shelf, it is likely not true. Trust only labels that say ‘vanilla absolute’ or ‘violet absolute,’ which refer to a different extraction process.
  4. Packaging:

    • Essential oils are light-sensitive, and reputable producers package them in amber glass bottles, usually with a dropper.
    • If the oil is in a clear or plastic bottle, it is likely not pure.
  5. Certifications:

    • If in doubt, ask the seller for certifications of the product. Reputable brands will have documentation to prove their oils’ purity.


The purity of essential oils is undeniably important, whether you are an aromatherapy practitioner or simply enjoying essential oils at home. Using pure, quality, unaltered essential oils is critical for ensuring their health benefits and avoiding potential harm.

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