Many reputable Aromatherapy supply companies now make some claim that they prevent impure oils being passed off as the real thing. How successful other companies are we don't know, but at Bay House we have a rigorous policy to ensure that our oils are not just pure and genuine, but of excellent quality. Our quality policy has three aspects to it, all of which are important.
- Buying direct from the Grower or Distiller at Source wherever possible
- Scientific profile and analysis
- Organoleptic characteristics
1. Sourcing an oil is always important and here at Bay House we choose our oils and ingredients either from one of the many Distillers and Co-operatives we have worked with over the last 30 years, or from trusted Brokers. It is vital to trust your supply chain, and over the years we have built strong links with many artisan or family owned distilleries. Many of the importers who sell to aromatherapy supply companies are large multinational companies who do not really understand the specific requirements of aromatherapy. We feel our Distillers do understand the specific needs and demands of Aromatherapists, just as we do ourselves here at Bay House Aromatics - you want pure and original oils of the best quality, unmodified and with full botanical and scientific data available. Contrary to belief, it is impossible to buy everything direct from source, but at Bay House, we can guarantee over 95% of our total buying volume has no additional links in the supply chain, guaranteeing the original quality as produced at the still.
2. This botanical and scientific data includes the Country of origin where the plant was grown / Distilled, its INCI or Botanical name and the part of the plant from which the oil was extracted, the method used - was it by steam or water distillation, cold pressing or solvent extraction? When we bottle up an oil we always list the Batch number, optimum expire date, and on most of the Base products, the open jar data and INCI Listing.
As well as the physical characteristics of an oil, we need to know the component breakdown. Does it contain the correct naturally occurring constituents in acceptable proportions? A rose oil should contain over 200 constituents, some of them in tiny trace amounts. Other oils may differ in character, depending where in the world they are grown. Our preferred method of analysis today is GC/MS...Gas chromatography ("GC") and mass spectrometry ("MS"). Put at its simplest, this involves passing the oil to be analysed through a column with the help of a carrier gas such as helium. The speed at which the various compounds vaporise is measured and illustrated on a graph called a chromatogram as a series of peaks. These peaks will indicate the percentage of each constituent within the Oil.
Although we buy most of our Oils direct from source, we still use an independent Chemist to analyse each drum of every Oil. So in the case where we buy 8 drums of Lavender, a sample is drawn from all eight drums, even if they are from the same batch, and sent off for independent analysis.
3. The organoleptic characteristics of an oil may sound very technical, but all it means is using our senses to evaluate the appearance, colour and odour of the oil. Just because an oil has passed all the scientific tests doesn't mean that we (or you) will like it. But apart from any imperfections in the oil, not all essential oils with the same name smell the same. Oils are produced in many countries, should we buy a Clary sage oil from France or from Hungary, a Bergamot oil from West Africa or Calabria? Gone are the days when we can judge the quality of an Oil by its odour alone. We depend on GC/MS even more now than we ever have in the past..
Our ethical policy at Bay House, concerns Animals, Plants and People.
In my lifetime, I have never known Essential Oils to be tested on animals. It may have happened in the distant past on the Cosmetic / Toiletry side of the business but I have never come across it. Needless to say, we never test or intentionally work with companies involved in Animal Testing.
Most essential oils are produced from plants, fruits, Seeds or Bark grown and harvested for that specific purpose. Where they are taken from the wild, we insist that no plant is taken from a source that is not sustainable. As a result, we only sell Wild crafted Oils approved and certified by the Soil Association.
Wherever possible we buy from small farms and co-operatives where the payment and most importantly, the profits go directly to the producers. We have visited most of our growers and suppliers over the years, many of them on multiple occasions.