Breaking down just some of the factors that impact potency, purity and pricing of essential oils, and how you can stretch your oily dollar further without compromising on quality.

Ever wondered about the vast difference in quality of essential oils? Or why some companies recommend 10 drops while another company will recommend 1 drop of the same oil for the same purpose?

Let’s break down just some of the factors that impact potency, purity and pricing.


Let’s start with a comparison. It’s not perfect, but it’s helpful in understanding a little bit about the distillation of essential oils.

The coffee on the left was the first cup of coffee made with freshly ground beans. For the sake of our comparison, let’s call this the first distillation. It’s the most potent cup.

Breaking down just some of the factors that impact potency, purity and pricing of essential oils, and how you can stretch your oily dollar further without compromising on quality.

The second cup of coffee from the left was made using the same beans. This is the second distillation. Still smells and tastes like coffee, but substantially less potent than the first.

The third cup is much weaker than even the second cup and not something I was keen to drink. This is the third distillation. Again, still smells like coffee but the taste is seriously flagging and certainly won’t give that caffeine kick.

The final cup (far right) is somewhat akin to dirty bath water! This is the fourth distillation. There’s still a coffee scent and nothing has been added to taint or change the product – it’s still just coffee… but the taste is weak and the potency is gone.

Essential oils are kinda like coffee.

First distillation essential oil is the most potent. Second, third, fourth (and beyond) distillation of the same plant material simply won’t be as potent as that extracted during the first distillation.

But this is often how essential oil manufacturers can produce 100% pure essential oil at really low prices.

While those second, third, fourth distillation oils might not be adulterated or engineered with the use of synthetic chemicals or fillers, you will need to use a substantial amount more oil compared with a first distillation product, in order to have a similar therapeutic impact. And even then, all the best stuff went into the first batch.


Distillation practices and the amount of plant material used impact pricing in a big way. Here’s an example.

The wholesale price for geranium essential oil ranges between US$125 and US$310 per kilogram, while rose essential oil is US$5,750 per kilogram.*

This isn’t surprising when you consider that it takes almost 10 kilograms of rose petals to produce a 5 mL bottle of rose essential oil. On the other hand, geranium essential oil can be extracted from the petals, stems and leaves so there’s a LOT more plant material that can be used.

Lower-priced Swaps

Oils are priced based on a number of factors including the extraction process, their availability and the amount of plant material required to produce a particular quantity of oil.

The great news is, there is often a lower priced alternative, so you can enjoy the innumerable benefits of essential oils without compromising on quality.

  • Cypress is a quarter of the price of frankincense but has similar benefits.
  • Geranium essential oil has many of the same properties and applications as rose essential oil but costs a fraction of the price to produce.
  • Cedarwood is incredibly helpful for calming and is half the price of lavender, an oil which requires 27 square feet of plant material to produce a 15 mL bottle of oil.
  • Lemon essential oil is a great household cleaning and respiratory support alternative to the Thieves blend and is a third of the price.
  • Peppermint and Wintergreen are both incredibly useful for muscle relief and are lower-priced than specific muscle rub blends.

Stretching Your Oily Dollar

Wanting to stretch your essential oily dollars further?

  • Learn how to use the lower priced oils.
    Lower price doesn’t mean less useful. Many citrus oils, for example, are around $20 a bottle and have a myriad of uses, from skin care, mood boosting, cleaning, diffusing and first aid.
  • Remember that a little goes a long way.
    When you’re using good quality oils, a little goes a long way. 1 or 2 drops is often sufficient.
  • Learn to dilute correctly.
    Most oils need to be diluted prior to applying topically and a good quality oil can last many months when diluted correctly for regular application.

Keen to get started with high quality essential oils? A Young Living starter bundle gives you 12 oils plus a diffuser and some gorgeous sample products for 50% off RRP. Plus, when you purchase through my link, you get me as your oily support person forever. I’d love to help your family discover the benefits of essential oils. Find out more about the starter bundle HERE.

*International Trade Centre 2015 pricing information

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