Sources and origins of our Essential Oils

Sourcing and purchasing organic and conventional essential oils from remote areas around the world is not a job for either a novice or the faint-hearted, because mistakes can be very, very costly for a company, in terms of both money and loss of reputation. Financial losses can be regained, but a company's reputation that tarnished by supplying poor quality oils is not so easily recovered.

So we work hard all year round to ensure we preserve the quality and continuity of supply that our customers have come to expect. Keeping the supply chain as short as possible, cutting out the middlemen and meeting the people who grow the crops are all steps we must take to maintain our high standards.

To learn more about where we source our essential oils, visit the other pages under this category (above left, in navigation bar).

Expertise required

It takes many years of training and practice to learn about the variability in therapeutic properties and the organic chemistry between a given species of plant. When we are procuring our oils, our search is targeted for those with high levels of bioactivity and a fine fragrance. Many essential oils have been 'adjusted' to meet the requirements of the perfumery or flavours industries, and whilst that may be acceptable for their requirements, it is certainly not for ours.

True experts at sourcing these natural raw materials know precisely where the finest herbs and essential oils are produced, but it takes many years to acquire this expertise and to also build up relationships with the producers and distilleries. In reality, few companies manufacturing or supplying aromatherapy products today have been in business long enough to have gained such vital expertise.

The fertility of the soil the plant was grown in, the genetic differences in the plant, the variety, cultivation practices, the climate, post-harvest handling and level of expertise used in the process of extraction will all have a significant effect on the resulting fragrance and bioactivity of an essential oil. This is why the country of origin is so important when it comes to the quality of an oil, since the climatic and soil conditions greatly affect the oil producing cells within the plant.

Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) from France is a very good example; if you have several bottles of lavender from different suppliers try comparing them with one another, and note the differences. They will undoubtedly differ in aroma, chemical composition and therapeutic activity, and this can be for a number of reasons. These variations can be due to the altitude the plant was grown at, whether it was extracted from a population or clonal variety, or if it was produced organically. But there can be other reasons for variability as well.

Deception and adulteration

It is quite common for lavender oil claiming its country of origin as France to have actually originated in Bulgaria or Croatia. Or it could be a mixture of oils from all three locations. And just to be clear; there is nothing wrong with the lavender oils produced in these countries - oils of excellent quality are produced in both regions, but they each have a different chemistry, odour profile and therapeutic action to that of French lavender. And a different bulk purchasing price that is considerably less than that of French lavender oil too!

Of course variations in quality can be due to blatant adulteration with synthetic or isolated chemicals, and this accounts for quite a large amount of poor quality essential oils that find their way into aromatherapy. This is usually the case with oils that have been adjusted to meet the required profile of the perfumery industry.

But what is merely 'adjustment' or 'sophistication' for one industry can be adulteration to another. Interfering with the chemistry of an oil to meet an odour profile may suit the perfumer, but it does no favours to the aromatherapist. To obtain classic text-book results you must use pure essential oils as nature intended or they will not be as therapeutically effective.

There can be absolutely no compromises with quality, and at Quinessence we remain committed to only sourcing the very finest that nature has to offer, extracted from organically grown products from ecologically sustainable sources. Of course this is not at all an easy task, but during the past 20 years we have set our own standards of excellence from which we never vary. In today's fast-buck world, few other companies seem prepared to invest the time and money required to reach such exacting standards.

To discover more about the origins of Quinessence essential oils, you may like to visit the pages below.

Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2002. Written by

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