Sustainability & Essential Oils

Have you ever stopped to think about just how much plant material it takes to produce any particular essential oil? Oil bearing plants may contain anything from 0.005% to 10% essential oil, with the average amount being around 1.5%. With citrus fruits, the uplifting, refreshing essential oil is present in such a big quantity that it’s easy to collect, but not all plants contain essential oil in big amounts. It takes between 30 and 40 roses to produce a single drop of Rose Otto essential oil, and it takes nearly eight million jasmine blossoms to produce 1 kilo of superior essential oil. For true verbena, one of the rarest essential oils, upward of 3 tons of fresh leaves and flowering tops are distilled to make half a kilo of essential oil. Not surprisingly, the quantity of essential oil in the plant and the ease of extraction means that all essential oils have their own individual cost to produce and market.

The growth of an industry dependent on natural resources brings challenges, and the rapid boom in the sales of essential oils during the past decade or so has sparked concerns over sustainable sourcing. Securing a supply chain can definitely be challenging for an essential oil broker, retailer, or product manufacturer. Circumstances beyond the grower’s or wild harvester’s control — climate conditions, pestilence or disease, labor availability, and civil unrest — all add layers of complexity and can lead to supply shortages.

Professional aromatherapy organizations and responsible aromatherapists do not support the continued use of essential oils from threatened species, especially when there are viable alternatives, and Penny Price Aromatherapy is always keeping an eye on the market for where there are problems and opportunities. For example, Brazilian Rosewood oil was depleted in the past with no replanting. This has changed and there is now sustainability on its way to Brazil, but in the meantime, our oil is purchased from India, where a sustainable source has been established for many years.

It is your right and your duty to ask your suppliers about their sustainability policies and how and where they obtain their oils. Your purchases influence decisions that directly and indirectly impact our environment as well as economic and social policies. I encourage you to ask questions and let your suppliers know that you are concerned about these vital issues.

If you have any questions about our Essential Oils please feel free to give us a call on 01455 251 020 email [email protected]