• “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the house of the wise.” – Proverbs 21:20

Adulterated Oils & Their Dangers

What You Should Know About Essential Oils

Most people believe that when they buy an oil that is labeled as “100% pure” they are getting a PURE, genuine essential oil. This is far from true most of the time. Not all essential oils are created equal and unfortunately one can have a pure oil and still NOT have a therapeutic quality oil because of the lack of care or concern given during the cultivation, harvesting and distillation of the plant. Producing therapeutic grade essential oils is as much an art as it is a science. It has been reported that companies are allowed to label their oils “100% pure” as long as it contains at least 5% of the “actual oil” alleged to be in the bottle! So that bottle you see at your local grocery or health food store, or even from apothecary shops and essential oil companies labeled “100% pure” means NOTHING!

Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD., world renowned author of numerous books in the field of aromatherapy estimates that 95% of the essential oils produced in the world are adulterated or reconstituted. This means they are not pure, not genuine, and not authentic. He states…

“There is endless ingenuity when it comes to adulterating essential oils. Adulterants are not always synthetic, many adulterants are of botanical origin hence natural, yet they still offset the balance of the authentic oil.”

This means, at best, they may be only partially natural and have lesser quality oils or chemicals mixed in, or worse, they may be totally man-made synthetic versions of the real thing. In either case, it affects the balance or action of the resulting oil in a negative way. Oils produced in this manner may contain some of the therapeutic value but they are much more prone to produce an allergic reaction, irritation, and/or undesirable or toxic side effects.


Most of the oils on the market are manufactured for the perfume industry with no thought given to preserving any “therapeutic” quality. They are distilled at the same temperature, at the same pressure, and for the same amount of time. They are considered “perfume”, or “aromatherapy” quality, or “fourth & fifth quality” oils and are NOT meant to be used internally, and sometimes not even topically! Don’t believe me… check the label on your bottle of essential oil, or the next time you’re at your health food store, check to see if somewhere on the label it states “DO NOT INGEST”, or “DO NOT APPLY TOPICALLY”. This includes oils found at your local grocery store, in health food stores, in aromatherapy shops, and even from some of our so-called competitors. I took these pictures at our local grocery store to show you some of the signs and labels for the essential oils being sold there. Warnings like this should be your first clue or indication that the oil has probably been adulterated in some fashion.

It seems like companies are popping up all over the place these days, always comparing themselves to Young Living, saying that their oils are just as good. Nothing could be further from the truth! We have the most stringent, the most rigorous standards of the industry and have set the standard that everyone else is trying to reach. NO other essential oil company does all that Young Living Essential Oils does to produce the highest quality essential oils, growing from seed, harvesting, distilling, producing, formulating, packaging, and marketing pure essential oils. It’s called our SEED-TO-SEAL process.

Young Living conducts multiple tests on each and every batch of essential oils and works very closely with Dr. Herve Casabianca, PhD. He is very highly respected and is known as the leading botanical chemist in the essential oil world. Dr. Casabianca, who works for CNRS, a government laboratory located in France conducts essential oil GC-MS analysis. GC-MS testing uses gas chromatography and pairs it with mass spectroscopy testing. This type of analysis requires years of training and experience… basically a Masters degree and there are very few people in the world qualified enough to do this type of analysis. He also works with Young Living to correctly identify the essential oils being tested to make sure that they are sourced from the right species and are not adulterated after they are distilled which is just one of the steps in our Seed-to-Seal process that assures we have the highest quality essential oils in the world.

Our Farms and distilling processes are a MAJOR factor in placing Young Living Essential Oils head and shoulders above the rest and sets us apart from the competition. No matter what they claim, please DO NOT confuse those oils with Young Living’s pure, beyond organic, therapeutic-grade, AUTHENTIC essential oils until you’ve looked into the cold, hard facts. Unless a company is taking every single one of these steps there is absolutely NO WAY that their oils can compare!

Adulterated and mislabeled essential oils present dangers for consumers. Most so-called “lavender” oil sold in grocery stores, health food stores and online aromatherapy shops, turn out to be lavandin, a hybrid lavender that is chemically very different from pure lavender (lavandula angustifolia). Lavandin contains high levels of camphor (12 to 18%) and will burn the skin. In contrast, true lavender contains virtually no camphor and has many benefits.

Much of the worlds supply of so-called lavender oil is grown in China, Russia, France and Tasmania. They bring it into France, cut it with synthetic linolyl acetate to improve the fragrance, add propylene glycol or SD 40, DEP, and DOP, which are solvents that have no smell and increase the volume, and then sell it to unsuspecting consumers in the U.S. as lavender oil.

Frankincense is another example of an adulterated oil. The frankincense resin that is sold in Somalia costs between $30,000 and $35,000 per ton. The essential oil requires 12 hours to be steam distilled from the resin and is very expensive. Frankincense oil that sells for $25.00 per ounce or less is invariably distilled with alcohol or other solvents.

Adulterated oils that are cut with synthetic extenders can be very detrimental, sometimes causing rashes and burning, skin irritations and more; and therefore warnings against their topical application or oral ingestion are stated on the bottle. Petrochemical solvents can all cause allergic reactions, besides being devoid of any beneficial effects. When these cut, synthetic and adulterated oils cause rashes, burns or other irritations, we wonder why we don’t get the benefit we were expecting and conclude that essential oils don’t have much value.

In France, production of true lavender oil dropped from 87 tons in 1967 to only 12 tons in 1998. During this same time, the demand for lavender oil had grown over 100 times. So where did essential oil marketers obtain enough lavender to meet the demand? They used a combination of synthetic and adulterated oils.

“Most of the lavender oil sold in America today is lavendin, which is a hybrid and is grown and distilled in either China or Russia. The oil production in both locations tests high in radioactive isotopes. They bring it into France, cut it with synthetic linolol acetate to improve the fragrance, add propylene glycol or SD 40, which is a solvent that has no smell ‘and increases the volume, and then sell it in the United States as lavender oil. We in America don’t know the difference and are happy to buy and sell it for $5-7 per half ounce in health food stores, beauty salons, grocery and department stores and through mail order.”- D. Gary Young


At Young Living, each oil is distilled using guidelines that are specific to that particular oil, in order to maintain all of the beneficial qualities.

Before harvesting the plant material for distillation, it is tested in the field, on an hourly basis, in order to determine when the the chemical constituents are at peak levels. Then, using low temperature and low pressure steam distillation, each essential oil is carefully distilled in a cone shaped, stainless steel distiller and distilled for a specific amount of time, at a specific amount of pressure, and at a specific temperature, so as not to defile the quality of the oil. The entire Seed-to-Seal process assures that great love and care is taken every step along the way.


Johnson S, Boren K. (Aromatopia. 2013 Jul; 22(4):43-48)

According to an article published in “Aromatopia” in July of 2013 by Johnson & Boren entitled “Topical and oral administration of essential oils—safety issues”-

“Multiple aromatherapy models exist, both advocating and discouraging neat topical and oral administration of essential oils. Recently, attention to these safety issues has expanded as a growing number of health care professionals and individuals adopt aromatherapy….” “The safety issues of neat, topical, and oral administration are discussed, including the available scientific data and corroborating evidence. Based on historical usage, available scientific data, the FDA GRAS list, The German Commission E approval, and the balancing effect of total compounds in essential oils it is our opinion that a wide variety of essential oils are safe to administer orally and apply neat topically without harm to the human organism, when a pure essential oil is used!”

Cream of the Crop

Young Living takes great care every step of the way in their Seed-to-Seal process to make sure that they are producing essential oils that are the cream of the crop in the essential oil industry, making them the best, highest potency oils in the world.

  • Seeds- not from hybrids
  • Soil- Young Living farms on land that has not been polluted with herbicides, pesticides, and chemicals for at least 50 years.
  • Chemicals are never used on the plants in the field
  • Distillation of each plant uses steam at low pressure & low temperature in upright cone shaped containers & no chemicals are ever used in the process
  • Must have clarity of definition (one plant could have 200 species.)
  • The time in the distiller is also important- cypress oil needs to be distilled for 24 hours
  • Many companies will distill at higher temperature for a shorter time. This will destroy the quality of the oil.
  • The distiller must be no more than 50 miles away from the site where the plants were harvested.
Distillation can determine the value of the oil, or destroy the value of the oil.

Essential oil distilling is not just a job, but an art. The operator of the distiller must have a full understanding of the value of oils in order to produce quality oils. If the pressure is too high, or the temperature is too high, it may change the molecular structure of the fragrance molecule, altering the chemistry constituents.

For example – distillation of lavender should not exceed 3 pounds of pressure, temperature should not exceed 245 degrees & should be distilled for 2 hours.

A distiller who is only interested in profit will distill lavender for 15 minutes at very high temperature & very high pressure.

(Tea tree)
1000 LB 10-15 LB 3 218 2-3 HRS
CINNAMON 1300 LB 5 OZ 5 225-235 9-24 HRS
CYPRESS 2000 LB 1 LB 0 220 24 HRS
PINE 1000 LB 1 LB 0 180 8 HRS
MRYTLE 500 KL 1 KL 1 – 2 200 7-9 HRS
PALMAROSA 600 KL 1 KL 2 200 4 HRS
LEMONGRASS 650 KL 17.5 5 230 2.75 HRS
CITRONELLA 150 LB 1 LB 5 225 4.5 HRS
ROSEWOOD 500 KL 1 KL 30 287 3 HRS
CLOVE 450 KL 5 LT 10 229 18 HRS
EUCHALYPTUS 250 1 LB 5 225 3-18 HRS
GERANIUM 500 LB 6 LB 1.2 200 1-3 HRS



Another article published in the Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry explaining the problem of, and the process of how to correctly detect, adulterated essential oils.

17 Responses to Adulterated Oils & Their Dangers

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  13. Doris Podany says:

    I wish you could make a list of oils that are not pure, and what are. Some companies really hide their information and you don’t find it until you buy it. A friend gave me a lot of Aura Cacia and once I found out its not pure I have no idea what to do with them. Was kinda bummed. Thanks for the info!

    • Doris,
      According to Kurt Schnaubelt, most of the oils on the market, like 95% of them are adulterated. Check out the SEED-TO-SEAL icon on the right of this page… no other essential oil company has this level of commitment to producing quality essential oils.

      Also, check out my “12 Questions to Ask An Essential Oil Company” page under the ARTICLES tab above. You’ll find 2 charts down the page. Another member of Young Living actually called 14 of the most popular essential oil companies and asked them these 12 questions, and then recorded their answers and made charts with the results. It’s pretty enlightening!

      I’d love to help you get started. Let me know when and if you’re ready!

      Best wishes and blessings, Dorothy

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  15. Stacey Paden says:

    Thank you for having such an informative, educational web site!

    • Hi Stacy- thank you for your kind words and taking the time to tell me! It’s an on-going labor of LOVE. I hope you’ve started your journey into the world of essential oils. If so then you’ve probably been blessed with success and hope that you will share a story or two here on my website. I encourage everyone to share their stories and believe that everyone benefits when each of us shares. I like to call it SHARING THE LOVE. If you don’t already have someone to help guide and assist you I’d love to help. Blessings on your journey, Dorothy

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  • WARNING- References to the use of essential oils refers SOLELY to Young Living Essential Oils. Before taking oils internally always verify if it's safe for internal use. Never attempt to use other oils in the same way as it may be dangerous or toxic! Because of their SEED-to-SEAL process Young Living oils are the ONLY ones that I would ever consider ingesting!

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