The Brand Comparison Chart
This Brand Comparison Chart was compiled by Jen O'Sullivan for educational purposes. It focuses on the most popular essential oil brands used in the United States of America based on customer data and the Aromatherapy Industry recommendations. Companies must have been in business for five or more years. This chart is not based on social media presence, but actual brand validity. The information on this chart was obtained by contacting each company by email, phone call, and/or looking up website data. It was gathered with the best intentions of getting the most complete data available as of September 2020. All essential oil counts are based on what is available to purchase from the company on their website. It does not include promotional oils that are unavailable for purchase, seasonal oils, duplicate oils of the same Latin binomial packaged differently, or non-organic oils when an organic one is available. The pricing is based on 10ml or 15ml bottles of their best essential oil in that category depending on what each company provides, divided to give the per milliliter price. The number of specific tests for “Number of Tests” section are based on what the company has stated over the phone or what their online data provided.
UNDERSTANDING THE CRITERIA
Original Formulator: The person responsible for overseeing production and formulation of blends. This is based on past and present. It is the person who set the standards for that company regardless if they are still with the company. They set up relationships with partner farms and approved purchasing agreements.
#of Singles: The number of single species essential oils available to purchase. Organic vs. Inorganic of the same species was not counted, nor were singles in different containers such as rollerball vs drop bottle.
#of Blends: The number of blends available to purchase. Single oils are blended to create a synergy.
Started Selling Oils: The years they started selling oils.
Website: The company’s website.
Source of Oils: “Own” means they cultivate, harvest, and distill on their own land and have 100% control of the entire process. “Direct” means a purchasing agent from the company goes directly to a farm source to test and purchase. “Co-op” means multiple companies purchase from the same farm source yet may own specific plots of land as a shared cooperative. “Partner” means a farm that has partnered with a company. Sometimes a partnership means exclusive rights to the farm and its practices, while others choose to partner with several companies. Partner farms may or may not be similar to co-op farms. “3rd party” or “Broker” means a company buys an oil from a source that purchases in bulk direct and then resells it to the highest bidder. This last method is the most common. The buying company usually performs tests on the oil to validate purity.
Distill on Site: The company has control over the distillation of the plant material on their own property.
Farm Ownership: See “Source of Oils” above.
Co-op Farms: See “Source of Oils” above.
Partner Farms: See “Source of Oils” above.
Farms Open to Public: A company that uses farms and distilleries that have open door practices. You are welcome to visit the farm and distillery to learn and view their operating practices.
Farm Control: Does the company control the farming practices of the final product or do they leave it up to the farmers they purchase from?
Seed Control: Seeds are the DNA of the oil. Very few companies look into the seeds used and leave that up to the farmers who often use last seasons crop rather than look at the seeds that came from the essential oil that produced the most desirable constituents.
Cone or Dome Stills: The tops of most distillation stills are dome shaped. Gary Young discovered that by making the shape into a cone rather than the more typically used dome, more of the good essential oil constituents would be captured thus creating a more robust final essential oil. Several companies have adapted to this method, however the expense to convert stills makes it prohibitive for most.
Number of Tests: See “Understanding the Tests”.
Third Party Testing: Does the company use an unbiased 3rd party to test the purity of an oil they are selling?
Fractional Distillation: The majority of reputable essential oil companies in the United States of America use essential oils that have been distilled properly and then modified by taking the true botanical essential oil and distilling out the more earthy constituents so the final product is a sweeter smelling oil. These oils smell better to consumers, but usually do not work as well therapeutically.
Side-by-Side Testing: Testing oils from other essential oil companies to compare quality.
CA Available: A Certificate of Analysis contains the CG-MS report along with several other tests. Some companies choose not to display these online. In recent years, some companies are providing their reports. Larger companies or ones who have been distilling oils for longer often do not provide them as they are the recipe to their success. Each oil and the therapeutic action is different based on many factors. The CA can be considered proprietary. Companies listed with “Some” means you can see some of their reports at the distilleries and/or by contacting their customer service (per company).
Pesticides: Pesticides can be in the plant and removed during the distillation process. So while a company may be listed as “some” this means that they cannot be sure of pesticide use, and they have stated that as long as the end product tests pure, they feel confident in labeling them as pure. Some pesticide residue will not show up in the purity tests. If a company cannot validate that there are zero pesticides used during cultivation, you cannot be sure there are none in their products.
Synthetic Free: “Tested Yes” means they have tested for purity and found them to be free of synthetics. Some synthetics are able to disguise themselves as the pure counterpart. This is how a company can ethically state they are pure even if the test they are given by a 3rd party or even their own machines may read as pure when it has an added synthetic.
Organic: Organic standards in farming means the land has been organic for 7 years. The USDA standard is 3 years. Young Living has a standard of 50 years for all farms they use.
USDA Organic: This is a regulatory agency within the United States and is obtained by meeting their requirements and paying a fee for their seal of approval. Other countries have other agents such as Ecocert.
Dedicated Internal: Does the company carry a full line of essential oils that are dedicated to internal consumption apart from their normal offering?
DS Labeled (Dietary Supplement): The FDA regulates that an essential oil may not be labeled as topical, aromatic, AND internal. Companies choosing to label their oils with all three uses are non-compliant and subject to fines.
Labeled: Are they labeled specifically for each type of use and number of drops for each use?
Child Safety Caps: The companies that use all safety caps, have chosen to blanket their product line. The surprising fact here is that the majority of oil companies do not use safety caps on oils that should be, while some companies have taken care to specifically call out the essential oils that may pose a risk to young children.
Direct Sales/MLM: Does the company sell via distributors?
Retail Store: Does the company sell to the public in a retail walk-in store (numbered), grocery stores, or small shops?
Retail Stores: Does the company offer physical retail locations to shop?
Lemon: The current price of Lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil based on their best quality oil in either 10mL or 15mL dropped down to the price per mL.
Frankincense: The current price of Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil based on their best quality oil in either 10mL or 15mL dropped down to the price per mL. Aura Cacia does not carry this oil and doTERRA does not carry this single, only a blend of 4 Frankincense species.
Lavender: The current price of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil based on their best quality oil in either 10mL or 15mL dropped down to the price per mL.
UNDERSTANDING THE TESTS
1. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS): GC is the method of separating the molecular compounds. MS is the analysis of the data collected.
2. Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detector: A means to detect if there are any non-organic materials.
3. Viscometry: measures the thickness of an essential oil.
4. Densitometry: color density when light passes through.
5. Specific Gravity: compares the density of water to the oil.
6. Refractometry (Refractive Index): how it bends light.
7. Polarimetry: How it bends to light. (Optical Rotation)
8. Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP-MS): measures metals in the oil. Can detect one bad molecule in a billion.
9. Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Optical Emission: measures metals in the essential oil using light.
10. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC): measures essential oil using pressure instead of heat.
11. Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR): measures bonds.
12. Automated Micro-Enumeration: counts bacteria.
13. Disintegration: the rate at which an oil disintegrates.
14. pH: the specific potential hydrogen of an oil.
15. Flashpoint: measures the lowest point of temperature when an oil vaporizes into a gas and can be ignited with fire.
16. Combustibility: the point at which an oil catches fire using oxidation without the addition of fire.
17. Microscopy Analysis: analyzes molecular structure.
18. Chiral Chromatography: separates optical isomers. Optical isomers are mirror images (racemic) like your hands. When compounds are synthesized in a lab, we almost always get a racemic mixture. This shows if the oil is pure or synthetic. Man-made (synthetic) products have two peaks that are the same, pure (natural) products have one.
19. Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IR-MS): Helps to monitor and detect the presence of synthetics. This is based on the atomic mass and is often called Carbon Isotope Ratio Analysis. It measures ratios of isotopes (atom with a different weight). Young Living is the only company in the USA that owns this machine and they have two of them!
20. Accelerated Stability Testing: How quickly an oil can stay stable under extreme conditions until it is “goes bad”.
21. Water Activity: measures the oil stability and shelf-life.
22. Organoleptic Testing: A sensory method of subjective testing where a scientist looks at the oil for optical purity and smells the oil for purity over time. This is done by very experienced people with a mental library of essential oil aromas and sometimes tastes. This type of testing will usually also be done by physical action to test the oil’s therapeutic response within the body.