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Types of essential oils explained

Not all essential oils are created equal

Did you know there are multiple types of essential oils? We’re not talking about the difference between essential oils and synthetic fragrance oils, nor are we referring to the fact that there are so many essential oil scents from which to choose. We’re talking about how two bottles of the essential oil of lavender can have very different scents and aromatherapy effects.

“How can this be?” you may ask. “Shouldn’t all lavender smell and perform alike?” The answer is, “No.”

Different species = different scents

essential oil lavenderIf you were to travel to your nearest plant nursery in search of some tomatoes to plant in your vegetable garden, you’d see several different varieties of tomato plants, some labeled “Early Girl,” and others labeled “Cherry Tomato” or “Better Bush.” Each of these produces fruit that is slightly different from any other type of tomato plant because they are different species within the tomato plant family. The same is true of the plants used to produce essential oils. Different species produce different scents.

Now, to return to the example of lavender, you may now (correctly) surmise that the common name “lavender” does not refer to just one plant but a family of plants, all with similar but not identical characteristics.

Location matters

In addition to differentiation in species, the location in which a plant is grown can also affect the scent and aromatherapy properties of its essential oil. Continuing with the lavender example, French Fine High Altitude Lavender often has a much sweeter aroma than lavender grown in low-altitude eastern Europe.

Click here to see a breakdown of the various types of lavender by growing location.

Therapeutic grade essential oils

Every essential oil is assigned a therapeutic grade, which is determined by the quality of the plants used to produce it, the method by which the oil was extracted from the plants, and the oil’s purity. Low therapeutic grade essential oils may not be Certified Organic or wild-crafted, and are often diluted and used as little more than fragrances.

High therapeutic grade essential oils contain a higher percentage of pure oil and come from plants that were grown using organic farming practices. They retain most if not all of their aromatherapy and skin care benefits, and can be used by aromatherapists and herbalists therapeutically. The highest therapeutic grade essential oils contain 100% pure oil from organic and wild-crafted plant sources.

Find out which therapeutic grade essential oils Castle Baths uses  here.

Of course, like any crop, the weather plays an important role in determining the quality of the plants harvested, which in turn, affects the quality of the resulting oils. A bad season and crop can mean relying on supplies of a particular essential oil from previous years and drive prices up. But now at least you have a better understanding of the various types of essential oils available and the care that goes into preserving their quality from the field to your skin.

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