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The Extension and Adulteration of Essential Oils

This practice is endemic within the industry and potentially covers all oils which do not satisfy our criteria of "100% Pure & Natural".

Essential Oils Adulteration

This practice is endemic within the industry and potentially covers all oils which do not satisfy our criteria of "100% Pure & Natural".

We are indebted to our many gifted and talented friends of Jenna Bosely who have, over the years, helped so generously in the testing and development of the Ahimsa Oils range of essential oils.

There are several ways to adulterate essential oils:

  1. Adding raw materials
  2. Adding cheaper essential oils
  3. Adding cheap synthetics – also called “nature identical”

As an illustration of the types of adulterants employed, listed below are many commonly used essential oils and some of their typical adulterants.

EAST INDIAN SANDALWOOD which is now not truly available on a commercial scale is adulterated with Australian Sandalwood, Araucaria oil, amyris, various E-African wood oils eg. Brachylearia hutchinsii or Muhuhu oil, bleached copaiba balsam, various odourless solvents eg. benzyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, diethyl phthalate, iso propyl myristate, paraffin, castor oil.

PATCHOULI is adulterated with cedarwood, clove, sesquiterpenes, cedarwood derivatives, methyl abietate, hydroabietic alcohols, vetiver residues, cubeb oil, turpentine, petroleum.

YLANG YLANG the highest quality "extra" is often adulterated with ylang ylang No.1, No.2 or No.3 and vanillin, p-cresol, ethyl ether, ethyl benzoate or salicylate, methyl p-toluate, benzyl propionate and cinnamate, anisyl acetate, copaiba oil, peru balsam and many other natural and synthetic materials.

Many oils are adulterated with gum turpentine but turpentine itself is adulterated with mineral turpentine, rosin spirit and volatile portions of shale oil and coal tar!

Other unscrupulous essential oil tricks are adding and extending with:

  • Abitol used for extending resinoids.
  • Benzyl alcohol 
  • Benzyl benzoate (used to ‘extend’ resinoids)
  • Carbitol (diethylene glycol monoethyl ether)
  • Diacetone alcohol
  • Dipropylene glycol (DPG)
  • Dipropylene glycol methyl ether (DPGME)
  •  Tripropylene glycol methyl ether(TPGME)
  • Herculyn D (hydrogenated methyl ester of rosin)
  • Isopar (odorless kerosene fractions)
  • Isononyl acetate
  • Isobpropyl myristate (IPM)
  • Phthalate esters 
  • Triacetin 
  • 3,3,5-Trimethyl-hexan-1-ol

Then of course some other companies add cheaper essential oils to the higher valued type as discussed above with Sandalwood, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang:

  • Bergamot oil (Citrus bergamia): addition of lemon oil, rectified ho oil and acetylated ho oil.
  • Bitter orange oil (Citrus aurantium aurantium): addition of sweet orange oil & orange terpenes
  • Cedarwood oil Virginia (Juniperus virginiana): addition of cedarwood oil Chinese (Cupressus funebris).
  • Cinnamon bark oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): addition of cinnamon leaf oil.
  • Cinnamon leaf oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): addition of clove fractions, eugenol, cinnamic aldehyde etc.
  • Clove Bud oil (Syzygium aromaticum): addition of clove stem oil & the isolates: eugenol & eugenyl acetate.
  • Fir Needle oils (Abies ): addition of turpentine fractions, camphene, bornyl acetate
  • Grapefruit oil (Citrus paradisi): addition of orange terpenes or sweet orange oil distilled
  • Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia): addition of cheaper lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) oil varieties; the addition of spike lavender oil (Lavandula latifolia); the addition of ho oil  (Cinnamomum spp)
  • Lemon oil (Citrus limon): addition of orange terpenes, lemon terpenes.
  • Melissa Oil is nearly always a mixture of citronella, may chang, lemon and / or lemongrass (True Melissa oil does not smell anything like this)
  • Nutmeg oil (Myristica fragrans): the addition of nutmeg terpenes, α- pinene, limonene
  • Patchouli oil (Pogostemon cablin): addition of gurjun balsam (Dipterocarpus)
  • Petitgrain oils (Citrus spp): addition of other citrus leaf oils & fractions, fatty aldehydes, linalyl acetate, orange terpenes
  • Peppermint oil addition of cornmint oil (Mentha arvensis).
  • Rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) addition of eucalyptus oil Eucalyptus globulus) & especially camphor oil white (Cinnamomum camphora).
  • Verbena oil (Lippia citriodora): citriodora herb distilled over lemon oil.
  • Violet Leaf absolute (Viola odorata): addition of spinach absolute (Spinacia oleracea).

When we took over Ahimsa Oils in its 31st year last year (2016) we inherited two very thick books by Tony Burfield. If you have a chance please read his work. Tony is a world expert in adulteration and extension of essential oils. If you read his work you will be amazed at what some wholesalers will do!


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