I get asked all the time what the difference is between my company and other big-name companies. While there is a long list of differences, I think my choice for sourcing is probably the most important. When I source any essential oil, I try to work with small distillers versus larger ones so that I am offering artisan essential oils versus commercial essential oils.
What is an artisan essential oil?
The smaller batch, artisan distilled essential oils are very often handpicked and then handled and distilled with great care. Their stills are often not very big which limits the amount of plant matter that can be distilled and the amount of essential oil they can produce.
These types of distillers are often very conscious of how much rain has fallen or not, what they can do to protect and care for the land they harvest from, and in some cases will enlist family members and locals to help with harvesting plant matter.
The amount of artisan essential oil they offer for the plant matter they distill will vary from eight ounces to maybe several kilograms. This does not leave much for them to sell, so their prices are often higher than those sourced from commercial distillers.
What is a commercial essential oil?
While commercial distilled essential oils are just fine to work with and use daily, these oils are not the same as artisan essential oils. The bulk of essential oils obtained and sold globally are created for the food industry for flavoring. The perfuming and cosmetic industry are the next largest industries that utilize them. The aromatherapy industry uses a significantly smaller amount than any of these, yet still relies on commercially distilled essential oils.
When you consider just how much plant matter is needed to be distilled to obtain the essential oils for commercial production like this, often these are NOT picked by hand. Instead large farming equipment is used. Something else to consider, is that these oils will be less expensive because of the bulk production.
In considering essential oils for therapeutic use, commercial essential oils are often purchased in minimums of 5-gallon drums and sold to suppliers. Those suppliers then sell to very large or smaller essential oil companies as a “middle man.” Then it is left up to the essential oil companies to have those essential oils tested for purity by a third-party lab.
Do I offer commercial essential oils?
As I mentioned previously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with commercially distilled essential oils or even absolutes if they are pure. In a few cases I do have to use a reputable supplier for a few essential oils as they are just not all approachable from a cost standpoint doing so otherwise. Some require hazardous shipping or require such a large order, as a small company owner, I could never import them or sell enough of the material before the end of its shelf life. When you consider tea tree as an example, who wants to pay more than $6-8 for a bottle of tea tree when it has such a short shelf life?
There are some occasions where I have made the decision in to offer an artisan essential oil over a commercially produced one – despite the price. My Douglas-fir is a perfect example. While I am too small to offer two different Douglas-firs, the artisan Douglas-fir I do offer is so amazing that I am convinced just as my clients are that there are none others on the market like it and I am able to utilize the small amount I order well before the shelf life is reached. This makes this particular essential oil a win for the artisan distiller and for my clients!
So, while I do have a couple essential oils that I source from ethical suppliers, a large percentage of what I source comes direct from small artisan distillers. I love that I can support them, their family, and the small number of locals they employ to help with harvest.