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Why Essential Oils Vary in Price?

Why Essential Oils Vary in Price?

  • Admin Jimmy

When you buy essential oil for the first time, you will encounter these questions. You may have few questions about:

  Why does "Lavender Oil" cost more than "Orange Oil"?  
  Why does one company's "Cinnamon Oil" cost so much more than another's?  
  Why shouldn't I just buy the cheapest essential oil I should find?  
  Why shouldn't I just buy the most expensive oil or the brand that my sister/daughter/friend claims is the purest in the world?  

Don't worry, let us tell you something you don't know.

(1)Specific Botanical Species

Numerous botanical species can go by the same common name. For example, "Chamomile Oil" can refer to oils extracted from Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria recutita or Anthemis nobilis. Not only can the oil price vary between species, but so can the therapeutic benefits and safety precautions.

Always be sure to know the botanical (Latin) name of a given oil and use that when researching therapeutic properties, safety precautions and when comparing the pricing of oils between companies.


(2)Specific Plant Part(s) Included in the Extraction

An oil extracted from the leaves of a tree can differ in aroma, therapeutic properties and safety precautions than an oil extracted from the bark of the same tree. Cinnamon Bark Oil and Cinnamon Leaf Oil both extracted are good examples.

Even if both oils are extracted from the same exact Cinnamomum zeylanicum trees, the bark oil is generally going to be cost more.


(3)Conventional vs. Certified Organic

Oils that are distilled from certified organic crops and meet the requirements for organic certification generally cost more than those of the same species that are grown via conventional (non-organic) means.


(4)Cost to Grow and Harvest the Botanical

Some botanicals are cost more to grow and harvest than others. For example, Jasmine blossoms must be handpicked. The quality of the crop also can influence the cost of an essential oil. Some growers are much more meticulous about the care they give to their crops, and that time, care and added cost can increase the pricing of the oil.


(5)Method of Extraction

While most essential oils are steam distilled, most citrus oils are cold pressed (but steam distilled citrus oils are becoming more commonly available as an alternative to cold pressed citrus oils that are phototoxic).

Additionally, some botanicals are commonly available as both a steam distilled essential oil or as a solvent extract absolute. Rose Oil (Rosa damascena) comes to mind. It is available both as an essential oil, known as Rose Otto and as Rose Absolute. Rose Otto is generally cost more than Rose Absolute because it is costlier to produce.


(6)Essential Oil Yields

Some botanicals require much more plant material than others in order to produce essential oil. The Essential Oil Maker's Handbook provides an enlightening overview of the optimal way to distill over 100 botanicals and includes the typical yield range for each. The book <Aromatica> also provides yield information within the 30 detailed essential oil profiles that it features.



Staff payroll, utilities, rent/mortgage, marketing, Web site development and maintenance, trade group fees, product research and testing, and ongoing education are examples of some of the overhead expenses that businesses face.

Generally speaking, the higher a company's overhead costs, the more they need to charge for their products.


(8)Labels and Packaging

Bottles and labels, including the attention to detail in printing/design and information provided can influence an oil's cost. This could be listed under overhead, but it's worth giving it special mention.


(9)GC/MS Testing

Some companies own their own GC/MS testing equipment and have trained staff on board that is capable of performing and interpreting the results. Some companies send samples of the oils they purchase to qualified labs for testing and analysis.

On the other side of the spectrum, some companies don't perform any testing and don't require their supplier to provide testing. This could be listed under overhead, but it's worth giving it special mention.


(10)Companies With Distributors/Reps

Oils purchased from companies that maintain reps/consultants/distributors that have a "downline" tend to be more expensive.


(11)Pure vs. Blended in Carrier Oil

When comparing oils between companies, do be sure that you are comparing the price of undiluted essential oils from both companies as some companies sell essential oils pre-diluted in carrier oils. Some essential oils are legitimately very precious and costly.

In order to make the oil more affordable to customers, some companies offer the precious essential oil pre-diluted in a carrier oil. Reputable companies make it very clear to their customers that the oil is pre-diluted and provide the dilution ratio and the specific carrier oil that the precious oil has been diluted into.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with intentionally buying pre-diluted essential oils. However, there are also some unscrupulous companies that are vague with their labeling/descriptions, and it can be hard for some people to spot that it's a diluted oil.

Before you jump to buy that precious oil that seems to be priced so much lower than everyone else, double check that it's not a pre-diluted oil.


(12)Size/Quantity Purchased

The larger the amount purchased, the lower the per ounce price of the oil tends to be.


(13)Essential Oil Supply and Demand

Essential oil prices fluctuate depending on availability and market demand.