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November 12, 2020 2 min read

“Diisooctyl phthalate contamination was found in this oil. Because of this we can't pass this oil.” What is Diisooctyl phthalate? And what does this even mean when you see it on a lab report? What do you need to know about diisooctyl phthalate and essential oils?

The bad and the good…

When you see the phrase “can’t pass,” right away you know this is not a good thing when you get your report from the lab on an essential oil. Let’s face it, GCs are not cheap either.

Obviously the bad is that you know you have an oil that doesn’t meet the standards. This also means that something is in the oil that should not be there. That’s the bad.

The bottom line is that the oil is not sellable. So, where’s the good in this?

For me, I tend to ask questions so I can learn. If you’re reading this, I suspect you’re interested in learning as well. So the good is all about learning….

What is Diisooctyl phthalate?

A cursory search will tell you that Diisooctyl phthalate is “is an oily colorless liquid with a slight ester odor.” (PubChem, 2020). It’s often used to help increase flexibility and endurance in plastics.

If you’ve ever heard me talk about plastic inhalers leaching – this is what is leached. This is also why it’s important that you never store your essential oils in plastic. If you’re selling anhydrous products as a retailer, you should also make sure you’re following manufacturer guidelines for dilutions and make sure you’re not storing those anhydrous products with essential oils in them for excessive periods of time.

What do you need to know about diisooctyl phthalate and essential oils?

So how did this constituent get into this oil???

Because most of us know that essential oils should not be stored or packaged in plastics, it begs the question of how did this phthalate get into an otherwise pure oil? After asking a chemist I was told this: “It appears to be a phthalate, most likely leached from an incorrect container.”

Evidently, there are still distillers and suppliers using plastics to store or ship the oils. Something that should not even be a thing given what we know about how caustic essential oils can be.

The lesson in all of this (despite my absolute frustration with the cost of the GC and the oil), is that this is why GC testing is so important. It helps ensure that I’m providing you the pure oils you need to use them aroma-therapeutically.