How often do you open a bottle of essential oil, enjoy it in all its splendor, but never think about all that went into making it for you? If you’re like us, it’s probably most of the time–or even all the time. It’s like our food. We go to the grocery store, pick up what we need, but rarely think about all of the factors and all the people that went into getting us that produce. We are a culture disconnected from the land. But today, we want to take you back to the land and connect you to the very soil in which the crops were raised that made your essential oils.
Today, we want to focus on several things that may seem obvious, but that we often take for granted. Here we go!
- Country of origin is an important consideration when selecting essential oils. We all know that different crops grow better in different geographies due to variability in weather patterns (rainfall, sunshine, temperature, etc.), soil composition (sand, clay, silt, loam, alluvium, etc.), and altitude. For instance, citrus grows best in tropical climates, but other crops like peppermint, lavender, or lemongrass grow best in mineral-rich alluvium soil, which is generally not found in tropical climates. While some may argue that it is best to use oils that were grown in indigenous regions–the areas of the globe where nature originally grew that crop–the truth is that this has led to over-harvesting of plants in certain regions. The fact that some of these crops are now being grown in other areas of the world in sustainable manners is actually a good thing for conservation (sandalwood is a great example of this). The key is simply to know what the country of origin is because it helps you to distinguish whether the oil contains desired properties or not.
- Essential oil quality and supply is highly contingent on weather patterns. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth being reminded that drought, flood, too much sunshine or too little sunshine can all impact the integrity of a crop for an entire season. In poor conditions, supply decreases, which means prices increase! It’s like your produce as the store, but it also applies to essential oils!
- Every batch of essential oil has a different chemistry from the next. Cedarwood atlas from Morocco has a different chemistry than cedarwood himalaya from India which is chemically distinct from cedarwood Texas from the U.S. Not only that, but Cedarwood atlas grown in 2019 could have a different chemical makeup than Cedarwood atlas grown on the same plot of land by the same farmer using the same process in 2020.
In a highly curated, manufactured world, essential oils “ground” us. They are a reminder of our dependence on the earth and our inability to control outcomes. They also ground us in the truth that difference is as natural as it is beautiful.