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How essential oils are priced

If you’ve ever wondered why products containing specific essential oils, like rose absolute, or frankincense, or blue tansy, for example, have a significant price jump in comparison to other oils and blends, you’re not the only one. We are often asked questions about pricing when it comes to our essential oils. In short, there is one important benchmark, plus a few additional factors, that you should consider when buying oils.

Here, we’ve broken down the main constitutes that go into costing essential oils, and how we price our range at Soothing Scents.

Quality oils cost more, period.

Before we start on the nuances of pricing, it’s important to note that any product that is drastically cheaper than the high standard essential oils out there should be flagged. While some price differences occur (we’ll get into this later), the nature of the essential oil business is such that reputable supply chains and extraction practices are specific and difficult to make more cost-effective without driving down quality, which is why a much lower price in comparison to reliable oil brands is most likely an indication of poor quality sourcing, no matter how economical the rest of the company’s business practices may be. It’s also worth knowing that the majority of genuine high-quality oils come from a very small group of suppliers worldwide, so if you see a drastic variation in price, you know something is not right.

  1. Species variety – The above being said, not all essential oils are created equal — some are more precious given their availability, while some require a higher volume from the source plant during extraction. Different species and their variants can produce a range of essential oils with different scents and therapeutic benefits too, which affects the cost of the oils extracted. To quote Sherilyn Siegmund-Roach of the Herbal Academy, “it takes 250 pounds of rose blossoms to produce one ounce (30ml) of rose oil, which explains the very high cost of pure rose otto or rose absolute.” Like commodities; the rarity, geography and amount needed for distillation of each oil will create variations between different species of plants, which is why jasmine oil is going to cost more than sweet orange oil, for example.
  1. Harvesting and distillation – Oils that are distilled from wildcrafted crops usually cost more than those that are grown and distilled from conventional ones, or by other means. How a plant is grown and harvested plays a large role in how its essential oils are priced. To use jasmine as an example again, the flowers must be handpicked to produce the finest quality of essential oil, while sandalwood essential oil is generally of better quality when distilled from trees that are 15 years or older. A well-harvested and distilled quality oil will render higher therapeutic benefits, and is safer due to the fact that there are no chemical additives or potential reactions to contaminants, which means the cost of the oil will be greater.
  1. GC/MS Testing – Some companies and essential oil distributors put their oils through GC/MS testing, which involves advanced equipment and trained researchers to perform tests and interpret the results. These tests are costly but are necessary to confirm the quality and purity of an essential oil. They provide useful information on the chemical composition of the oils and their sensitizers.
  1. Cost-Plus Pricing – At Soothing Scents, we are fastidious about using cost-plus pricing, which knowledgeable businesses usually adopt to determine the selling price of an essential oil. As we mentioned earlier, essential oils act like commodities, meaning they can fluctate over times, and vary greatly in geography, weight, demand, extraction process and supplier, so if you’re seeing funny price numbers that aren’t standardized and aren’t rounded up to a nice, neat number  (on pure, single oils – blends and sets are another matter) this usually means an essential oil provider knows its stuff when it comes to the business, and is aiming for veracity and transparency when determining product retail prices. Suppliers who sell all their essential oils at a standard price is a big red flag, since essential oil prices should operate on a continuum depending on the rarity of the plant, and volume of the plant needed for distillation.
  1. Pure vs. Blended – At Soothing Scents, we supply single oils and essential oil vapor blends. The exception to our “neat price” rule is when buying blends, where in most instances the ratio of oils in the blends lends itself to one pricing structure. Pure, unadulterated single oils should still be treated like a raw material and should keep to a cost-plus pricing model. 

Soothing Scents was the first to establish an industry standard for essential oil delivery safety within the health care environment. Today, patients ranging from premature neonates in ICU to immunosuppressed transplant recipients use our products, which can be found in over 1,500 facilities across the United States. We do exhaustive research on how our oils are sourced, distilled, tested and packaged, all in accordance with the standards of hospitals and health care facilities we supply.

Visit the Medical and Essential Oil pages on our site for further reading on how you can use our products in your institution.

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