Add the simple pleasures of aromatherapy to your everyday life with our unparalleled selection of essential oils and ready-to-use skin care products — formulated from 100% pure essential oils, to provide true aromatherapy benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.

How Essential Oil Quality is Assured

How essential oil quality is assured

How do Aura Cacia essential oils make it from the field the plants grow in, into the bottle that you hold in your hand? And how are we certain that all of our oils are authentic, just as nature made them? It’s a complicated, but well-established and fail-safe journey that every drop of every one of our oils makes.

Step 1:

Visiting the source

We visit the oil’s origin to observe the plants and meet the growers. We look over the fields, the soil, and the harvesting and distillation processes. We look for healthy plants and good growing practices, making certain the botanicals are harvested at the optimal time. Next, the botanicals are brought to the distillation facility where steam vaporizes the essential oil (in most cases), which is then cooled to a water/oil mixture. The essential oil is separated, put into holding drums and is then shipped to the Aura Cacia facility in Urbana, Iowa.

Many companies stake their claims of essential oil quality on this initial vetting of the source, but it’s only the beginning for Aura Cacia oils. Before we contract to bring the oils in, we request a sample of the distillation which goes through a five-point evaluation. If this first sample is approved, the same testing process is repeated for every incoming container of the approved and purchased oil.

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Sensory Evaluation

Step 2:

Sensory evaluation

We begin testing with our senses. Does the oil look, move and smell the way it should? We look at the color, the mobility and the volatility of the oil, as well as smell the aroma. The most thorough way to do this is to assess the oil using a paper test strip. As the oil absorbs, it separates into top, middle and base notes which can each be detected individually. After the oil evaporates, it leaves a faint dry out aroma that is also evaluated.

After years of experiencing hundreds of oil samples, our well-trained staff knows the standards for each component of the full aroma profile of genuine essential oils. As good as we are, we know that this initial physical evaluation can be subjective, so we put the oil sample through an additional set of scientific, instrument-based tests. These are each increasingly specific and objective in determining the quality of each oil.

Step 3:

Specific gravity

This test measures the weight of an essential oil. The molecular weights of all of the naturally-occurring components of an essential oil combine to produce the standard and predictable molecular weight of the complete oil. Since every authentic essential oil is naturally made up of its own unique range of constituents, it should have a predictable specific gravity. If the oil has been adulterated, the weight can be thrown off.

Specific Gravity
Optical Rotation

Step 4:

Optical rotation

This test measures the direction and the degree to which light rays rotate left or right as they pass through an essential oil. The unique constituents in an oil influence the way that light is bent because of the rotation of the electrons around its unique set of molecules. If the oil is authentic, the rotation will fall within a reliable range. If the oil has been adulterated, the degree of rotation may be thrown off.

Step 5:

Refractive index

This test measures the speed and angle at which a beam of polarized light is refracted when it passes through an essential oil, sort of like the way sunlight is refracted through rain to produce a rainbow. In the same way that the unique molecular properties of an essential oil can rotate light rays passing through it, they can also determine the degree that a polarized ray of light is refracted. Each oils unique constituents predictably influence the speed and angle at which they refract polarized light. If the oil has been adulterated, the speed and degree of refraction may be thrown off.

Refractive Index
Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

Step 6:

Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GCMS)

Gas chromatography separates the individual constituents of an essential oil and measures the amount of each constituent present. It confirms the oil's botanical identity by comparing the presence and amount of each constituent. Gas chromatography can screen for non-natural or missing constituents, or constituents occurring in unnaturally high or low ratios, signifying adulteration. Mass spectrometry specifically identifies each of the natural constituents in essential oil by name and is able to pinpoint the presence and identity of any non-natural adulterants.

Step 7:

Getting the oil into your hands

Once the oil is approved it is received into our climate controlled warehouse and bottled employing Good Manufacturing Processes into protective amber glass. Finally, after all of this quality assurance, the essential oil is ready for you, as pure as it was when it was formed in the living plant under the best of conditions.

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