The Strange Apothecary

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Choosing the finest pure essential oils is an extremely important factor in determining how effective your aromatherapy blend or treatment will be.

With the large selection of essential oils available on the market along with a growing number of suppliers, this task can be a daunting one.

Before choosing an essential oil brand, it is important to carry out an adequate amount of research first, taking into account the following considerations;

  1. Purity
  2. Quality
  3. Price
  4. Storage

Choose oils that are 100% essential oils, ones that are not synthetics, dilutions or adulterations.

Avoid terms such as “nature-identical”, “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil” as these types of oils will often have chemical or artificial ingredients added to them.

Additives and adulteration (meaning adjusting or altering the oil in some way) have the potential to be harmful to the body and they also create weak, ineffective results in aromatherapy.


The quality of essential oil is determined by a number of factors including;

  1. The plant species
  2. The quality of the soil
  3. The weather conditions/temperature
  4. Where the plants are grown – indoors or outdoors
  5. The extraction method used

The actual bottle of essential oil will not provide this information so this is where proper research comes into play.

A reputable brand should be aware of the production of its oils from start to finish and provide the general public with information on how this process is carried out.

Always look at the company’s website and any literature they provide.


The price of an essential oil varies enormously and depends on how difficult or easy it is to extract the oil from the plant.

For example, 2 million rose petals are needed to make just 1 ounce of Rose essential oil, making it one of the most expensive essential oils on the market.

Alternatively, it takes approximately 30kg of eucalyptus leaves to make 1 litre of Eucalyptus oil, making it one of the lesser expensive oils.

When choosing, make sure the oils are not unusually cheap, especially the more expensive ones like Rose, Melissa, Neroli or Jasmine.

This could mean they may not be pure or of good quality. It is a good idea to compare different brands to get an overall idea of how much your chosen essential oils should cost.


Essential oils are precious and expensive. It is therefore vital that they are stored correctly to ensure both their longevity and effectiveness.

When you are purchasing oils or creating a blend at home, the following factors should be adhered to, to ensure you get the most from your oils;

  • Make sure they are contained within dark amber, dark green or cobalt blue bottles. Sunlight can have a detrimental effect on the chemistry of essential oils causing them to deteriorate rapidly and lose their therapeutic benefits. Dark-coloured glass bottles offer protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Ensure the bottles are tightly sealed. Any prolonged contact with the air will cause essential oils to lose their composition and evaporate.
  • Keep essential oils stored in a cool, dry place. Do not store them in an area where they will be subject to extreme changes in temperature. The heat will evaporate the oil whereas the cold will cause it to lose its composition.
  • When purchasing essential or carrier oils, never buy oils that have dust on the cap or bottle This is a sure sign that they have been sitting there for some time. Don’t be afraid to ask the retailer when the oils arrived at the shop.
  • Avoid aluminium or plastic bottles as the molecular structure of the oil will be affected.

Most essential oils have a shelf life of at least 2 years, particularly ones that have gone through steam distillation.

There are some exceptions to this, so make sure you do some research first (Tea Tree oil normally lasts for approximately 12 to 18 months). Citrus oils like Lemon, Orange, Bergamot, Mandarin or Neroli have the shortest shelf life of around 9 to 12 months.

It is important to note that carrier oils should be treated with as much careful consideration.

They will go rancid very quickly if not stored properly.

Most carrier oils have a shelf life of up to 2 years, with the exception of borage oil and flaxseed oil – these are very delicate and have a shelf life of about 6 months.

Coconut and jojoba oils last for about 4 years and are often added to other carrier oils to extend the shelf life of a blend.

Use the following checklist as a guide when purchasing your essential oils:

  • Is the Latin name of the plant provided? This will ensure you are getting the correct variation of a particular oil, for example, there are several varieties of eucalyptus.
  • Where is the oil from? Sometimes quality can vary between countries.
  • What is the purity of the oil? It should be 100% essential oil. Avoid terms like “nature-identical”, “fragrance oil” and “perfume oil”
  • Is the essential oil stored in a dark amber, dark green or cobalt blue glass container?
  • Are the bottles sealed tightly? If the seals have been broken, the oil could be compromised so avoid it.
  • Where are the oils stored? Are they away from heaters or radiators? Are they away from direct sunlight?
  • How long has the oil been in stock?
  • How has the essential oil been extracted? This will give you an indication as to its shelf life.
  • Are the prices comparable to other brands? If they are unusually cheap, they could be dilutions so be careful.

Did you know, our essential oils tick all of these boxes? Shop here.

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