With so many essential oil companies trying to sell you their products, it can be tough to figure out if you’re buying high-purity oils.
Subjectively, your nose, skin and body can help. But what’s a good objective measure?
When I was a newbie to essential oils, I would browse through company websites and see chemistry reports and notice some mysterious initials: GC-MS.
I brushed them off as boring technical stuff related to the oils. And, well, it IS boring technical stuff, but I learned how helpful the existence these little initials can be to us.
What is GC-MS testing?
Essential oil companies commonly test their oils using gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS).
According to the Aromatic Plant Research Center, gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is a commonly used method of separating essential oil compounds into individual components.
These components are identified, along with the concentrations of each component making up the oil.
Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry are two separate pieces of equipment and often used together.
GC-MS reports tell us about the chemical makeup of essential oils. The reports typically identify components and their amounts in the oil.
They can (but don’t always) identify synthetics or other foreign chemical substances (called adulteration).
In an effort to assure the customers that their oils are indeed made up of the properties they’re supposed to contain, some companies list the GC-MS reports of each oil.
I’m not saying these reports are simple and easy to understand. They actually seem quite complicated.
I don’t have the technical expertise to evaluate the reports and understand every chemical property (and I’m sure most oil consumers don’t), but I do get a level of reassurance that these companies are trying to be transparent and honest about their oils.
Used correctly, I place a higher level of trust in companies and their oils if they post their reports online in an easy-to-find spot, use a third party to do the analyses, and have specific batch or lot numbers on each bottle of oil.
There have been some claims that GC-MS reports are re-used by some shady essential oil sellers or companies, so it’s often recommended to make sure you use the batch or lot numbers listed on your oil bottle and compare it to the corresponding GC-MS report that is posted.
Companies that List GC-MS Reports
The following is a list of essential oil companies that provide their GC-MS reports directly on their websites.
Do you want to see if a company you might buy from is on this list? Is your favorite oil company on the list? Companies are listed in alphabetical order.
Reports for Aromatics International are easy to find and labeled “View GC/MS Report” in not one, but two spots on the website when you look at the information for single oils.
Although the reports aren’t as detailed as some other companies, Aromatics International reports that they use third-party testing.
You can also compare the batches against each other in case you’re curious how one batch differs from the other.
I’m not sure why doTERRA makes their GC-MS reports so difficult to find for the first-timer.
They’re not listed on the main website when you purchase the oil. Instead, you have to go to a separate website called “Source to You” and enter a quality ID number which is the lot number on the bottle.
So unfortunately, you can’t see the reports before you buy them. They state they use an independent third-party lab for the analyses.
Reports are easy to find and labeled “Reports” when you look at the information for single oils. Displays only one page from the entire report. Appears to be analyzed by a third party.
Reports are easy to find and labeled “Test Reports” when you look at the information for single oils. Reports vary but can be lengthy and appear to be analyzed by a third party.
This relatively new company makes it easy to access their GC-MS reports from not one, not two, but three different areas of their website.
You can go the typical route through the “Shop” tab and click on the single essential oil for information, then scroll down to “Safety and Test Results.”
Another way to access the reports is to click on the “FAQ” button on the homepage, find the question asking about third party testing, and then click the link which takes you to the GC-MS results.
The third method I found is to go to the “Blog” section, scroll down, and click on the question that asks what a GC-MS test is and where to find the results. Revive likes to emphasize that they use third party testing.
Rocky Mountain Oils
Reports are easy to find when you click to find information on single oils. Reports are labeled under “Test Results” and contain a summary and batch-specific reports that you get when you enter in your lot number.
RMO reports that they do both third-party and internal testing.
Like their name, this company makes it a simple process to find their GC-MS reports.
Simply shop around their website; the reports are clearly listed when you look at the information for single oils. Once you click on the report link, you can search for the information via lot numbers.
Reports are not as detailed as other essential oil companies, and it’s unclear and not stated whether they use third-party testing, which makes me suspect that they use internal testing.
Quick Reference Guide to Chemical Terms Found in GC-MS Reports
GC-MS Reports can be confusing for anyone who isn’t familiar with the scientific terms listed in them.
Undoubtedly, analyzing these reports are complicated and require a high level of expertise.
For those who are interested in learning some basics, Aromatics International has a great, quick reference guide to the chemical families, therapeutic properties, and safety considerations. Check out the guide here.
I plan to update the list as I learn about more companies, or when more companies make their GC-MS reports available on their websites, so be sure to check back to see if a brand you’re considering is on here!
What are your thoughts on GC-MS reports? Do you find them helpful, or do you gloss over their existence? Comment below!
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