Facebook has been filled with outrage and angry feeling among the essential oil community regarding the new essential oil package that is available at Walmart for just under $20. The kit comes with a diffuser, peppermint essential oil and lavender essential oil.
Ok so what’s the big deal? Why are essential oil people so sensitive? Right? Unfortunately this is a much bigger problem than it may appear.
Please note I will not state the name of the company in this post as the purpose of this post is not to name bash this company but rather to share information so that people can make a truly informed decision as I am shocked and upset with the outcomes of the testing done on these products.
Let’s imagine what would go through the mind of someone who has yet to try essential oils when they see this:
“I have been wanting to try essential oils but they all seem so expensive, but hey for $20 I can afford this. Plus essential oils are supposed to have awesome benefits, this could really help my family! The bottle says 100% pure, this seems legit. I’m gunna get it! I can’t believe people spend money on those expensive oils when they could have these.”
That may be a slightly dramatic thought process but you get the idea. To be honest the thought process would have made perfect sense to me around 2 years ago! However essential oils weren’t nearly as ‘popular’ (I hate using that word) then and not nearly as many people were talking about the benefits and yet I STILL probably would have made the purchase. These days the conversation about essential oils is everywhere and I think this is a very normal thought process many would have. Times are tough, people are living paycheck to paycheck. They can’t afford to use natural products. But now they can right? Now there is an awesome line of essential oils which are 100% pure and definitely affordable. Perfect solution right? Wrong!
Let’s break down the thought process line by line and make sense of it and back it up with fact.
“I have been wanting to try essential oils but they all seem so expensive, but hey for $20 I can afford this”.
If an essential oil lover heard this (yes I would call myself this) many people would explain to the buyer that while a 15ml bottle of lemon 100% therapeutic grade essential oil may be like $14 it really isn’t very expensive as there are 250 drops in that bottle and you only need a few drops at a time. Not to mention it can be used for a bunch of things. When you think about it you are actually saving money in the long run because you can purchase one item instead of many. This is an explanation that many essential oil users (myself included) would use to explain to a person that really in the end they are saving money and it’s true, they are.
BUT (you saw that coming didn’t you) that doesn’t change the person’s financial situation. This person still only has $20 in their pocket. You can make any logical explanation you want but when it comes down to numbers, the funds simply aren’t there to purchase third party tested essential oils from a well known brand. This person still wants to try essential oils and still only has $20 so chances are they buy it.
Let’s move on to the next part of the thought process.
“Plus essential oils are supposed to have awesome benefits, this could really help my family! The bottle says 100% pure, this seems legit.”
It’s true, essential oils are (for lack of a better word) advertised and/or discussed as an awesome natural solution that families can greatly benefit from. I agree with this and my position on the benefits of using essential oils safely (see safety guide) has not changed.
The 100% pure labeling is another story though! The regulations on essential oils are fairly loose. Before we continue I should state that there have been a lot of rules given to the essential oil community about language being used on how to describe essential oils. So I don’t think that more regulations are helpful as it may further prevent us from sharing the benefits of essential oils with others. BUT (there it is again) I do have a problem with the labeling that is allowed to be used, it’s a problem!
A product can be labeled as 100% pure as long as there is SOME pure essential oil in the bottle. This pure essential oil may only make up a small percentage of all the ingredients in the bottle but the essential oil itself is pure. This is very confusing and misleading to consumers. People are looking at the bottle, reading the facts and think they are making an informed decision. In the same situation before I used and spent endless hours learning (and still learning) about essential oils I would have felt the same way.
Now the concern I have is the product being discussed states that it is free of synthetic fillers. Wait what? I always encourage people to read labels to see what is really in the oils yet if they did this everything would seem fine. To be honest when I read the label I was confused. I knew there was no way this could be priced SO low and be free from fillers. It just doesn’t make sense.
So what is really happening? Dr. Robert Pappas from Essential Oil University did a test on the bottle of 100% pure peppermint essential oil. It should be noted that the chemical term for 100% peppermint is mentha piperita. Dr. Pappas ran tests on this essential oil (see graph here) and the oil tested as mentha arvensis which Dr. Pappas describes as Cornmint oil which is about half the price of peppermint aka mentha piperita. Cornmint oil is considered to have inferior odour and flavour qualities in comparison to true 100% pure peppermint essential oil. Check out the graph and the many many comments here. Please take the comments with a grain of salt, it seems that this whole situation has brought out an unattractive side of many people. The comments you see are not an accurate reflection of what is usually a very supportive (non brand specific) essential oil community.
Now I must say that this is research that has been done by one person so I can’t say we should 100% assume that everything we read is truth. After all, that line of thinking is what perked the interest of our shopper mentioned above. As I mentioned before I am not here to slam the essential oil company or Wal-mart for that matter as I don’t believe it has any benefit. The issue is much larger than that. The problem is that essential oils are not required to be third party tested. Many large essential oil companies choose to have their oils tested by a third party to ensure quality however this is not a requirement. So what is stopping an essential oil company from putting something in a bottle and calling it something else?
Ok let’s move on to the last part of the thought process.
“I can’t believe people spend money on those expensive oils when they could have these.”
This is another normal thought process. It is the same as buying food for example. The ‘no name’ brands often taste just as good as the name brand so people buy no name, are happy with their purchase and continue to buy it. As humans we understand this thought process. We are able to test things for ourselves by reading labels, finding out about calorie count and of course the main test, how it tastes.
However it is MUCH more difficult to test essential oils, especially if you have never tried them before. Sure you can smell but if you have never smelled a 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oil before, you would have nothing to compare it to and assume it is how it should be. You would follow the thought that well this saved me money and is just as good, I still can’t believe people buy the expensive ones.
And that would be it. The person is still going to purchase the essential oil and use it with their family. No I do not have personal experience with the brand being sold at the department store but if the test results from Dr. Pappas are accurate, it means that the people are getting a low quality of essential oil and may actually be wasting their money.
This post was inspired by the newest addition to Walmart’s shelves but this is a concern I have had for quite some time as many essential oils are sold and labeled as 100% pure at a very low price. Did you know that in order to make a 15ml bottle of lavender pure therapeutic grade essential oil you need 30 pounds of Lavender! Now does it sound reasonable that a bottle could be sold for $5 like the ones you see in the store or online? To me it doesn’t.
I don’t have a solution as to how we can fix this problem. But I do believe it is a problem and I am worried about it! I hope this post helped you to have more information so that you can make an informed choice and have all the information needed when purchasing your next bottle of essential oil.
Do you have a solution?
How do we make sure people are informed when purchasing the oils they use with their family? For now my solution is to talk about it and raise awareness. What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them!