by Katharine Koeppen, RA
I was reflecting the other day about the typical American need to supersize everything.
In just a few years, the accepted standard size of an essential oil bottle has jumped from 5 ml to 15 ml. Europeans are still using the 5 ml bottles, but Americans have supersized. Many American suppliers have also increased the diameter of their bottles' orifice reducers, resulting in larger drop sizes. Because more and bigger are always better, right?
This greedy attitude about essential oil use has caused radical shifts in the aromatherapy industry. It is now difficult for suppliers to source material of good provenance and adequate supply. Some American companies have even turned to factory farming on their own land to insure a steady supply of increasing scarce raw material. More aromatic plants have been classified as endangered or near-endangered species due to overharvesting.
I regularly see new users brag about their ever-growing personal collections of essential oils on social media, sometime posting photos of boxes and trays (even mini-fridges!) full of little bottles. The boast is often followed by, "I just bought some [name any] essential oil, but don't know what to use it for."
So many of these valuable essential oils are being wasted on dryer sheets, in daily household cleaning products or in homecrafted candles. When one considers the amount of labor and raw material it takes to produce a bottle of essential oil, how important is it, really, to have pretty-smelling laundry?
The next time you open a bottle of essential oil, think before you pour. Is the planned use necessary and appropriate? Do you really need to use 12 drops when 4 will yield the desired effect? Why use essential oils in the kitchen when some fresh herbs or citrus peel will do the trick?
When you purchase an essential oil, buy only in a size you will use. I have many 5 ml bottles that it's taken me several years to empty, and I'm using these oils on a regular, professional basis. Don't mix blends in bottles that are larger than you can reasonably use within a short period of time. A 30-60 day supply of an aromatherapy blend is plenty, and you won't have to throw out a product that's gone rancid. Don't purchase an essential oil unless you understand its common usage and have a need for it.
Think of your essential oils as being the equivalent of a Big Mac combo meal: bigger isn't better for your health or for the health of the planet. Downsize, don't supersize.