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September 04, 2014

Let's Discuss The Quality of Essential Oils

If you're going to go, go all in. Be educated, don't fall for buzz words and phrases and made up marketing terms. The very presence of those things removes more than an iota of integrity and ethics. 


Below we explore some excerpts from an article on this very topic by Jade Shutes, BA, Dipl. AT., Cert. Herbalist, a well renowned authority on the matter. 


Let’s start with the marketing term: Therapeutic grade

For those of you who believe you already know what this term means, I would ask that you keep an open and willing mind.  I understand completely how contentious the issue of quality is. Firstly, to my knowledge the term ‘therapeutic grade’ arose during the 90’s and did not exist prior to that time. It was invented by some very clever marketers who wanted people to believe that there were somehow therapeutic grade essential oils and then all others. The main company marketing this concept also wanted individuals to believe that they and they alone somehow had the only therapeutic grade essential oils on the market (as if the market had somehow not existed until they existed).

After the concept of ‘therapeutic grade’ entered the market other companies quickly joined in, saying that they too offered ‘therapeutic grade’.  Today, just about every company selling essential oils states that their essential oils are of ‘therapeutic grade’.  With the concept of ‘therapeutic grade’, also known as Grade A, came other grades such as grade B, C, and so on. The point here is that some clever marketers were absolutely successful in their aspirations to get the word ‘therapeutic grade’ into the vernacular of the aromatherapy industry.

Aromatherapy buyers have perhaps become overawed with the idea that there must be a ‘therapeutic grade’ and that is what they are looking for. (Sometimes it must feel like they are looking for the holy-grail.) They call aromatherapy companies and ask “do you sell therapeutic grade essential oils?”  What I would like to know is if there is actually a company out there that states it sells ‘non-therapeutic grade’ or ‘grade b, c, or d’ essential oils.  Actually, just did a search and NOPE, not a company out there claiming to sell grade b, c or d essential oils and not a one selling non-therapeutic grade. Very suspicious!!

The truth is that there is no such thing as ‘therapeutic grade’ (or grade b, c, or d) in the sense that some organization or higher power has bestowed on an essential oil line. A grading system, quite simply, does not exist for essential oils. It is a product of marketing and marketing alone.  And if one actually spends time thinking about this it makes perfect sense. From a marketing perspective there had to be another way to market a line of essential oils other than saying ‘we sell the best essential oils on the market’ which is rather boring in comparison to ‘therapeutic grade’.

According to Burfield and Kirkham (2006-07), “many aromatherapists have unfortunately become unwitting victims of a marketing ploy by essential oil traders that advertise “approved” essential oils of ‘therapeutic grade’. Let us be quite clear on this – there is no such thing as a ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oil, and no quality standards for the authentication of essential oils specifically exist in aromatherapy.”

So where does that leave us? Shortly we will explore what ‘therapeutic grade’ means to individuals who utilize essential oils therapeutically.  For now, let us explore other marketing terms which may arise in your search.


Weeding through the market place:

While searching for essential oils on the internet you may come across some companies claiming to be approved by the ISO or to meet and/or exceed guidelines established by AFNOR or to be GRAS approved and even one company claiming to have Certified Pure therapeutic grade/FDA approved.  What exactly do there terms mean?

Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade:
This is a relatively new trademark by DoTerra.  It gives the appearance of being approved by some kind of higher authority, however DoTERRA, LLC owns the right to exclusive use of the mark (although they do not have the exclusive right to the actual words “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”). It is important to understand that this seal or word mark only denotes that DoTerra has created their own seal and does not mean that the quality of their essential oils is any better than other essential oils in the market. It is a commercial trademark that they have registered and paid a fee for to use.

ISO: International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from over 100 countries, one from each country.  ISO is a non-governmental organization established in 1947. The mission of ISO is to promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity.  ISO’s work results in international agreements, which are published as International Standards.  In addition to quality and environmental management systems, ISO also publishes standards that set criteria for film speed, data stored on ATM and credit cards, wine glasses for use in competitions, crayons, and more.  (http://www.systemsquality.com/14000/FAQs.htm) The ISO also provides definitions such as the one below for ‘essential oil’.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in their Vocabulary of Natural Materials (ISO/D1S9235.2) defines an essential oil as follows:  “An essential oil is a product made by distillation with either water or steam or by mechanical processing of citrus rinds or by dry distillation of natural materials. Following the distillation, the essential oil is physically separated from the water phase.”

According to Burfield and Kirkham (2006-07), The ISO is the main certifying body recognized for its universally accepted standards for individual essential oils.  Harris (2006) points out that ISO and AFNOR (discussed below) do not set standards for differentiating the quality of essential oils rather they provide specifications for ‘industries to use as a guide to essential oil compositions so that new batches could be utilized with minimum alteration in flavor or fragrance to the finished products’.  Harris states further that “whilst it is sometimes advantageous to know whether an essential oil falls within a ‘normal’ range, it has no inference to therapeutic properties. An essential oil can be very therapeutic and yet not fall within any accepted standard”.   An example of ISO standards is provided for Texas and Virginia Cedarwood oils.

International (ISO) standards exist for both the Texas and Virginia cedarwood oils. For the former, the alcohol content, expressed as cedrol and in the range of 35-48 percent, is specified with a minimum cedrol content of 20 percent. For the Virginia cedarwood oil, a maximum cedrol content of 14 percent is stipulated. In the United States, recent FMA standards have replaced older EOA standards and are available for Chinese, Texas and Virginia cedarwood oils. These standards specify that for the Texas and Virginia oils the alcohols content (cedrol and related isomers) must range between 25-42 percent for the Texas oil and between 18-38 percent for the Virginia oil. The Chinese oil must have a minimum alcohol content of 8 percent (Coppen 1995). http://www.fao.org/docrep/X0453E/X0453e11.htm

NOTE:  FMA stands for the Fragrance Materials Association. The members of the Fragrance Materials Association of the United States (FMA) include companies that invent and then manufacture mixtures of fragrance ingredients for use in a wide variety of products, including fine fragrances, shampoos, soaps and detergents. The members of FMA also include the suppliers of those ingredients.  To learn more about the FMA visit: http://www.fmafragrance.org/sub_pages/gi_aboutFMA.html

Association française de Normalisation (AFNOR) is the French national organization for standardization and is that country’s ISO member body. (wikipedia) There are a few companies out there who claim that their essential oils are AFNOR approved as therapeutic grade or even that their essential oils meet or exceed AFNOR standards.  Boy that sounds so good.  As stated above, AFNOR does not set standards for differentiating the quality of essential oils rather they provide specifications for ‘industries to use as a guide to essential oil compositions so that new batches could be utilized with minimum alteration in flavor or fragrance to the finished products’.

“GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe.  Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive.  For example, substances whose use meets the definition of a pesticide, a dietary ingredient of a dietary supplement, a color additive, a new animal drug, or a substance approved for such use prior to September 6, 1958, are excluded from the definition of food additive.  Sections 201(s) and 409 were enacted in 1958 as part of the Food Additives Amendment to the Act.  While it is impracticable to list all ingredients whose use is generally recognized as safe, FDA published a partial list of food ingredients whose use is generally recognized as safe to aid the industry’s understanding of what did not require approval.   (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/grasguid.html)

According to Harris (2006), “a small number of essential oil suppliers are now labeling their products as having GRAS status and implying not too subtly that this means that they are of therapeutic quality and also safe for internal use.  Whilst there are many essential oils that do possess GRAS status, like mint and neroli, this designation can in no way be indicative of therapeutic efficacy or risk-free intake via the oral route.  Essential oils are used as flavor ingredients in a wide range of products and their inclusion in the GRAS category is dependent, in part, upon their defined safe maximum concentration limits in edible goods. These concentrations are generally low, as they allow for the repeated ingestion of foodstuffs on a daily basis, and thus guard against cumulative dosing and potential toxicity”.  He ends this particular section with “individual chemicals can be recognized as GRAS, as can adulterated/synthetic essential oils”. Essential oils which have GRAS status therefore do not need to be pure, do not need to be organically grown, nor do they even have to come from a plant.

Along with the above items, some companies also appeal to our ‘desire’ for high quality essential oils by offering a GC/MS spec sheet on all their essential oils.  Let us have a look at what a GC/MS spec is and what it may or may not tell us about the quality of an essential oil.

GC/MS spec report
A gas chromatograph is a chemical analysis instrument used to separate and identify individual constituents found within a given essential oil.  Each chemical constituent of an essential oil will pass through the gas chromatograph instrument and different times and speeds.  As each chemical is registered it will produce some type of peak, from very short to very tall. (See sample below)

A gas chromatography report reveals the peaks of different chemical constituents within a given oil, it does not, however, name the specific chemical constituent (e.g. linalol), for this a mass spectrometry must be used.  Mass spectrometry is a technique which allows for the detection of compounds (chemical constituents) by separating ions by their unique mass. Mass spectrometry is utilized to identify specific compounds registered on the gas chromatography report. A typical mass spectrometer has three basic parts: an ion source, a mass analyzer, and a detector. Different molecules have different masses, and this fact is used to determine what molecules are present in a sample. An individual trained in reading GC/MS data will then clearly identify the exact constituents and their quantity (e.g. 5% linalol, 25% camphor, and so on) present within a given essential oil sample.

According to Burfield (2005), “aromatherapists should not be too over-awed by the claims of essential oil traders, to the effect that GC-MS is the ultimate analytical tool. This simply is not true. When properly used it is a certainly a powerful technique, but when used sloppily by untrained operators, the interpretation of results may be of limited value”.

Interpretation of the information gained depends on the skill, experience and knowledge of the individual who does the analysis. A GC-MS report may fail to reveal the age and quality of an essential oil, particularly in relation to the quality an aromatherapist is looking for. So, in general, although a GC-MS report on a given essential oil is incredibly helpful, it should not be used as the sole definitive guide to purchasing a high quality, pure, unadulterated essential oil. Instead, it should be used along with an olfactory appraisal, confidence in the supplier and their intentions as a supplier (e.g. are they selling inexpensive essential oils to a general market or are they selling high quality, typically high priced essential oils specifically to practitioners of genuine aromatherapy), and other analytical techniques such as Thin Layer Chromatography, Infra-Red analysis, Specific gravity, Refractive index and Optical rotation.

The Value of GC/MS
Although a GC/MS spec sheet cannot reveal the specific quality of an essential oil, it does offer valuable information on the essential oil, specifically its chemical profile and authenticity.  According to Harris (2006), in terms of therapeutic efficacy as related to pharmacological activity, the knowledge of the composition (full chemical analysis) is of paramount importance.  A GC/MS spec report that is batch specific for the essential oil you are purchasing will support your understanding of the therapeutic applications of the essential oil and potential safety concerns.

Most aromatherapy practitioners have been trained to understand that chemical variations occur as a result of harvest time, country of origin, soil and climate conditions, part of plant used, distillation, transport and storage parameters.  Bensouilah and Buck (2006) point out that as long as the essential oil chemistry remains within defined boundaries and occur due to environmental or genetic influences and not from adulteration, this is an accepted part of aromatherapy.

With all this, what then shall we look for?

It is a given that the vast majority of aromatherapy practitioners and perhaps even lay practitioners (home users) are seeking genuine and authentic, plant derived, preferably organic or wild crafted, unadulterated essential oils. This is how I personally would define ‘therapeutic grade’, although like Harris, I dislike the term. Finding them and knowing what to look for is a challenge, particularly given the power of marketing.  What do we mean by the terms genuine, authentic, plant derived and unadulterated anyways?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the terms genuine and authentic as follows:

  • Genuine (adj.) 1 truly what it is said to be; authentic. 2 sincere; honest.
  • Authentic (adj.) of undisputed origin; genuine.

To my knowledge Kurt Schnaubelt was the first to use the terms ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’ in relation to essential oils.  According to Schnaubelt (2004), a genuine essential oil means it is completely unaltered and an authentic essential oil means it is from a specified plant only. Which brings us to plant derived: essential oils used in aromatherapy should all be extracted from a specified plant species, e.g. Lavandula angustifolia versus Lavandula x intermedia.

And this naturally leads into unadulterated: no additives, no extenders, no price reducing ingredients, no nothing except what was there after distillation or expression. The main concerns with adulterated essential oils include: 1. potential interference of adulterants with components of the natural oil; this may affect synergy and the expected physiological and psychophysiological activities of the oil and 2. Toxicity implications of the adulterants. (Bensouilah and Buck, 2006) Hence adulterated essential oils can reduce the therapeutic benefits of treatment, increase the likelihood of adverse reactions and potentially introduce toxic compounds into the body.

Now that we know what we are looking for, how in the world do we find it? My goal in this section is to offer up some qualities to look for both in a supplier and in the essential oils you purchase.

Qualities to look for in a supplier:

I personally would want a supplier:

  • who is dedicated to supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy practitioner market and educated public.
  • owned by an aromatherapy practitioner or essential oil specialist
  • who has relations with his/her distillers, if possible
  • who can readily supply a batch-specific GC/MS spec report on each essential oil it sells* (although with that said, my go to company for internal use is Original Swiss Aromatics and they do not supply GC/MS reports but I trust them implicitly and explicitly!)
  • readily able to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) as needed (*this is most often needed for individuals who are practicing in a medical facility)
  • who has a strong ethical reputation in the field
  • who has preferably been in the field for a number of years and is well known to other aromatherapy practitioners and/or educators

If you have found a supplier that fulfills the above criteria or at least the vast majority, then one can at least begin with the idea that the essential oil you have purchased is of a higher quality than those sold at grocery stores or in the mass market or by a large corporation.  If you have been provided with the GC/MS spec sheet that is batch specific you are aware of its chemical profile and potential therapeutic applications and safety precautions.

Qualities to look for in an essential oil

Important items to obtain on each essential oil you purchase include: Common name, Latin name (exact genus and species), Country of origin, Part of plant processed, Type of Extraction (distillation or expression), how it was grown (organic, wild-crafted, traditional) and chemotype (when relevant).

Of equal importance to all the above criteria (including supplier qualities) is your own organoleptic assessment. Organoleptic means perceived by a sense organ. In relation to essential oils I believe we need to utilize all six senses (taste, touch, smell, vision, auditory, and intuition) even though the use of some of them is different then one would expect.

Naturally when it comes to essential oils one would think first of your sense of smell and indeed this is the case.  Utilizing your sense of smell may seem rather simple at first glance however the ability to smell (or sense) the ‘quality’ or ‘wholeness’ of an essential oil is actually more complex and involved.  I shall attempt to outline how to powerfully utilize your sense of smell for determining the quality of essential oil. Each of the steps takes time, patience, consciousness, and willingness.

1. Strengthen your sense of smell

The sense of smell, in my opinion and experience, is like a muscle, the more you use it and become aware of it the stronger it becomes. I would encourage you to first become more familiar and conscious of the aromas (odors, scents) that are present in your everyday life.  The smell of your home, your dogs, dinner cooking, your cleaning products, the way your clothes smell, your lover/husband/wife/partner, your children, the individuals you work with, your work environment, the smell of a woman or man with too much perfume or cologne on, the smell of the city, the country, the smell after a days rain, the smell of humidity, the smell of your favorite restaurant or grocery store, the aroma of freshly mowed grass, the smell of gas, the smell of wood burning in a fireplace or wood stove.  Spend two to four weeks simply observing, becoming aware of the different aromas which waft under your nose each day.

2. Strengthen your relationship with aromatic plants

Aromatherapists are in some ways at a disadvantage when it comes to relating to the aromatic plants from which essential oils are derived.  Unlike herbalists who often spend much of their time touching, smelling, visually observing, and interacting with plants and plant material, aromatherapists simply purchase a bottle of essential oil without ever having come into direct contact with the plant.  I believe firmly that this relationship is critical to the full appreciation of each essential oil. Even though the vast majority of us will never go to Madagascar or Costa Rica to smell ylang ylang as it lingers on the tree, there are still many aromatic plants which one can have access to in a variety of settings.

I recommend you spend time with a wide variety of aromatic plants, if and when possible.  Obviously the spring and summer months (particularly late spring and summer when the essential oil content is higher) are the best times to explore aromatic plants, either in your own garden or at an arboretum, a garden center, an herb farm, or even in nature.  This relationship building with aromatic plants, in my opinion, is the key in being able to appropriately utilize your sense of smell when it comes to the quality and wholeness of essential oils.  If it is autumn or winter (as we are now moving into) then you may need to put this off until the spring but nonetheless, it is a vital step towards strengthening and empowering your sense of smell.

Grow what you can. Wherever I have lived I have grown as many aromatic plants as possible, sometimes to use for herbal teas but mostly just to be able to walk out into the garden and pick a leaf or flower (etc) and breath in its aroma. Even when I lived in a small apartment in Boston I was blessed with a fire escape and on it I grew as many aromatic and herbal plants as I could.  If you travel, visit gardens when possible. I will always remember visiting the Dupont gardens (Longwood gardens) just outside of Philadelphia. It was there in the conservatory that I had the great fortune of meeting black pepper, a plant I would otherwise never have seen. And although I could not spend time smelling the black pepper (which is dried from the green pepper once it has matured), I at least was able to observe its growth, its leaf structure and the berries.

Strengthening our relationship with aromatic plants strengthens our relationship with the essential oils they give forth. It provides us with a much wider olfactory palate and empowers our sense of smell in better perceiving a quality essential oil from one of inferior quality.

3. Compare and Contrast Essential Oils

Now let’s talk about using your sense of smell with actual essential oils.  I remember years ago while studying esthetics my instructor said something to the affect of: In order for you to truly understand the various degrees of oily or dry or dehydrated skin you must come into contact with as many individuals as possible. Once you have seen slightly oily skin and then very oily skin and also very dry skin and degrees thereof, then and only then will you have an appreciation and understanding of each of the skin types.  And the same goes with massage, only after massaging numerous clients will you begin to be able to truly feel differences in muscle tone, range of motion, muscle tension, etc. etc.  This concept holds true for essential oils.  To be able to understand and interpret the differences between qualities of essential oils one must spend time with and be exposed to different qualities. Remember too, that even within the category of high quality authentic and genuine essential oils there will be subtle differences and nuances in the essential oils.

If you have never smelled an essential oil of superior quality (in every sense) or an inferior essential oil, how are you truly able to distinguish qualities? To know a superior quality one must have access to companies which exemplify this quality. I would highly recommend purchasing essential oils from companies in Europe (such as www.Florihana.com or www.Fragrant Earth.com or the US company,www.originalswissaromatics.com, etc) and also from reputable suppliers here in the United States and Canada.   Purchase at least 2-4 essential oils from a few different companies, perhaps even the same essential oils to compare.


See the full article here


April 24, 2014

What the Heck is Neem Oil?

image courtesy of shuttershock


From the MNN article:


Pressed from the fruits, twigs and seeds of the neem tree, neem (also known as Indian lilac) is a widespread evergreen in the Indian subcontinent that has been used for thousands of years as a part of ayurvedic medicine. 
“Most commonly used in skin and hair care products in both India and Bangladesh, neem oil is touted for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties,” says Alexis Wolfer, beauty expert, nutritionist and creator of The Beauty Bean, an online beauty magazine. “Neem oil can soothe irritated skin, fade scars, lighten hyper-pigmentation, moisturize dry and cracked skin, restore damaged hair, control oil production, eliminate acne and heal eczema and psoriasis as well,” Wolfer says. That’s quite a lot of power for a slick oil.
You may have seen neem oil as an ingredient in body soaps, cleansers, hair care and anti-aging products. It’s mostly present in natural products that focus on healing dry skin, psoriasis, scalp problems and eczema.
Salah Boukadoum, co-founder of Soap Hope, a for-profit natural body product company with a nonprofit mission of lifting women out of poverty, says medical science is just now catching up to centuries of traditional wisdom on this powerful oil.
“This tree can live for over 100 years, and the oil is harvested sustainably from the seeds of its fruit,” says Boukadoum.
Raw neem oil has a medicinal aroma and the key to its potent healing benefits may lay in the vitamin E found in the oil.
“I recommend neem oil topically for eczema, nail fungus, athlete’s foot, bug bites, fungal rashes, ringworm and dermatitis. Internally, I recommend it for intestinal parasites and candida overgrowth,” says Nancy Guberti, MS, CN, biomedical nutritionist and functional medicine specialist in private practices in Connecticut and New York.

April 16, 2014

How to use lavender for cooking, potpourri & first aid



From the article:


Simple Lavender POTPOURRI

2 cups dried LAVENDER Buds (organic preferred)
1 cup dried ROSE Buds (organic preferred)
1.5 cup dried CALENDULA flowers (organic preferred)
10 drops LAVENDER Essential Oil (may be refreshed, as needed)
Mixing bowl Glass Jar with lid

Mix all ingredients well. Pour into sterile jar. Cap. Label. Decorate with ribbon if desired. It will keep well for up to 6 months. To use: Take lid off to sweetly scent the room. Cap when not in use (to preserve smell)
Note: Any mixture of dried herbs & flowers will work. Try deleting the rose buds, adding dried lemon balm, adding ¼ cup dried Orange Peel, 1 cinnamon stick broken into small pieces, & ½ tsp cinnamon powder. Use 5 drops cinnamon EO (if you have it) great in the kitchen!


Try 1 drop of LAVENDER Essential Oil in a room for its calming properties or add 1 drop to a cotton ball & put under pillow as a sleep aid at night.

LAVENDER for Cooking:

Lavender Tea
¼ tsp lavender buds
1 tsp favorite Black Tea
Slice lemon

Put herbs in mug. Drop in lemon slice. Pour 1 cup boiling water over. Steep 10 minutes. Strain & enjoy the unique flavor that lavender imparts to beverages. Nice iced, too!

Herbes de Provence
3 Tablespoons each: dried Savory, Thyme, Rosemary,
2 Tablespoons each: dried Basil, Tarragon,
1 Tablespoons dried LAVENDER flower buds

Optional: add 1 tablespoon Sage, 1 Tablespoon Parsley, or 1 Tablespoon Fennel

Mix well. Pour into sterile jar. Keep in a cool, dark space. It will keep well for up to 6 months.
Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of mixture into Hot Green Beans, for a new taste twist.
Terrific on Lamb, Chicken, & Tofu.
Try some sprinkled on a fish fillet & then layered with veggies & potatoes in a foil packet. Cook on grill or in oven

Lamb chops: Sprinkle 1-2 T all over chops. Place on hot oiled plank & close grill cover. Cook on low heat for 25 minutes (check every 15 min for doneness). Chops are done when barely pink. Delightful

LAVENDER for Herbal First Aid:

Keep Lavender essential oil (EO) on hand for help with:

BUG BITES: Dab 1 drop on bug bites to stop the itch
STINGS: Dab 1 drop on stings to dull the pain
Burns: after icing, put 1 drop EO on burn. Add 3-4 drops to cup of ice water & soak burned fingers periodically. Helps with the pain, lessens the burn, & usually stops any scarring. Dab on a cut for antiseptic action if you are far away from treatment.
ITCHY or SUNBURNED SKIN: mix 10 drops EO in 1 oz distilled water. Use to spray skin for sunburn & to relieve itchiness.
Lavender is specific to birthing. In the olden days, women about to give birth were given bunches of fresh picked lavender to hold in each hand as they experienced contractions. The scent helped to soothe the new Mother (& those around her)
AROMATHERAPY: Use lavender EO to calm & soothe. (1 drop on metal or cotton ball in a room or add to a spray bottle (as above) to directly mist skin when you need to relax.

LAVENDER Growing Tips:

Lavender is a perennial originating from the Mediterranean, that grows well in Massachusetts if you choose a sunny spot, preferably near a wall with loose, sandy soil. Add compost when planting & be sure to mulch it just before winter to help it stay alive til Spring. It flowers twice a season IF you remember to cut the dried flower stems off. They can be used for recipes above, for smudging, or near thresholds to keep mice away.


Purchase our Certified Organic Lavender Essential Oil here.


Read the original article.

April 15, 2014

The Health Benefits of Incense


From the article:

Smell has a powerful effect on the body!

Powerful smells from our past may bring up good memories, thus our immune system is given a boost. And smells that remind us of something terrible have the opposite effect.

Studies at the University of Florida show that smells inhibit and excite cells in the olfactory area of the brain creating changes in the brain.

A study with 3,000 people at the Research Center of Chicago found that if people had the ability to smell sweet fruit many times a day… they ate less and lost weight.

Another study at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center showed that smelling lavender or vanilla reduced anxiety.

And incense goes back thousands of years to the early cultures of India and Northern Africa. Incense has been used in many spiritual and religious ceremonies with profound physical effect on the mind/body.


Try our Luxury Charcoal Incense, you won't be disappointed:




read more at:


May 21, 2013

Bees Know The World is Round - 10 Amazing Bee Facts


Now that we have officially introduced our beeswax candle line, we thought it time to get to know the newest member of our production team: the mighty honeybee!


1. Bees collect 66 pounds of pollen a year per hive.

2. Honeybees in Croatia have been trained to find unexploded land mines.

3. The honeybee's wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, making their

distinctive buzz. A honeybee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.

4. A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey.

5. It takes one ounce of honey to fuel a honeybee's flight around the world.

6. While honeybees almost always die after stinging humans, they can sting insects and other animals multiple times without harm to themselves.

7. Honeybees know the world is round; they take into account the curvature of the earth when communicating food locations.

8. Honey doesn't spoil. 2000 year old honey from an Egyptian tomb was described by an explorer as "delicious".

9. Speaking of Egypt, Cleopatra used honey as part of her daily beauty routine.

10. The good life: male honeybees (also called drones) have no stinger and do no work. All they do is mate.


May 02, 2013

We Love Octopi - 10 Amazing Facts About the Octopus

Lately, our best-selling art candle has been the Vintage Octopus candle. This proves two things:

1) You people have good taste.


2) Everyone loves octopi!

So, in honor of the mighty octopus, here are ten awesome facts about this most awesome creature.

  • Octopus blood is blue.
  • Octopi have three hearts.
  • All octopi can change color.
  • The octopus has keen eyesight and well-developed senses of taste and touch but is completely deaf.
  • The largest octopus ever found weighed 300 lbs and had an arm span of 33 feet!
  • All octopi are venomous.
  • A female octopus is known as a "hen".
  • A female octopus may lay 100,000 eggs.
  • Female big blue octopuses are known to eat males after copulation.
  • An octopus species known as the mimic octopus can actually impersonate other creatures.



February 08, 2012

Candlemakers Petition

A PETITION From the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting.

To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies.

Open letter to the French Parliament, originally published in 1845 (Note of the Web Publisher)


You are on the right track. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic market for domestic industry.

We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for your — what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice — your practice without theory and without principle.

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us by perfidious Albion (excellent diplomacy nowadays!), particularly because he has for that haughty island a respect that he does not show for us [1].

We ask you to be so good as to pass a law requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull's-eyes, deadlights, and blinds — in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses, to the detriment of the fair industries with which, we are proud to say, we have endowed the country, a country that cannot, without betraying ingratitude, abandon us today to so unequal a combat.

Be good enough, honourable deputies, to take our request seriously, and do not reject it without at least hearing the reasons that we have to advance in its support.

First, if you shut off as much as possible all access to natural light, and thereby create a need for artificial light, what industry in France will not ultimately be encouraged?

If France consumes more tallow, there will have to be more cattle and sheep, and, consequently, we shall see an increase in cleared fields, meat, wool, leather, and especially manure, the basis of all agricultural wealth.

If France consumes more oil, we shall see an expansion in the cultivation of the poppy, the olive, and rapeseed. These rich yet soil-exhausting plants will come at just the right time to enable us to put to profitable use the increased fertility that the breeding of cattle will impart to the land.

Our moors will be covered with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of bees will gather from our mountains the perfumed treasures that today waste their fragrance, like the flowers from which they emanate. Thus, there is not one branch of agriculture that would not undergo a great expansion.

The same holds true of shipping. Thousands of vessels will engage in whaling, and in a short time we shall have a fleet capable of upholding the honour of France and of gratifying the patriotic aspirations of the undersigned petitioners, chandlers, etc.

But what shall we say of the specialities of Parisian manufacture? Henceforth you will behold gilding, bronze, and crystal in candlesticks, in lamps, in chandeliers, in candelabra sparkling in spacious emporia compared with which those of today are but stalls.

There is no needy resin-collector on the heights of his sand dunes, no poor miner in the depths of his black pit, who will not receive higher wages and enjoy increased prosperity.

It needs but a little reflection, gentlemen, to be convinced that there is perhaps not one Frenchman, from the wealthy stockholder of the Anzin Company to the humblest vendor of matches, whose condition would not be improved by the success of our petition.

We anticipate your objections, gentlemen; but there is not a single one of them that you have not picked up from the musty old books of the advocates of free trade. We defy you to utter a word against us that will not instantly rebound against yourselves and the principle behind all your policy.

Will you tell us that, though we may gain by this protection, France will not gain at all, because the consumer will bear the expense?

We have our answer ready:

You no longer have the right to invoke the interests of the consumer. You have sacrificed him whenever you have found his interests opposed to those of the producer. You have done so in order to encourage industry and to increase employment. For the same reason you ought to do so this time too.

Indeed, you yourselves have anticipated this objection. When told that the consumer has a stake in the free entry of iron, coal, sesame, wheat, and textiles, ``Yes,'' you reply, ``but the producer has a stake in their exclusion.'' Very well, surely if consumers have a stake in the admission of natural light, producers have a stake in its interdiction.

``But,'' you may still say, ``the producer and the consumer are one and the same person. If the manufacturer profits by protection, he will make the farmer prosperous. Contrariwise, if agriculture is prosperous, it will open markets for manufactured goods.'' Very well, If you grant us a monopoly over the production of lighting during the day, first of all we shall buy large amounts of tallow, charcoal, oil, resin, wax, alcohol, silver, iron, bronze, and crystal, to supply our industry; and, moreover, we and our numerous suppliers, having become rich, will consume a great deal and spread prosperity into all areas of domestic industry.

Will you say that the light of the sun is a gratuitous gift of Nature, and that to reject such gifts would be to reject wealth itself under the pretext of encouraging the means of acquiring it?

But if you take this position, you strike a mortal blow at your own policy; remember that up to now you have always excluded foreign goods because and in proportion as they approximate gratuitous gifts. You have only half as good a reason for complying with the demands of other monopolists as you have for granting our petition, which is in complete accord with your established policy; and to reject our demands precisely because they are better founded than anyone else's would be tantamount to accepting the equation: + x + = -; in other words, it would be to heap absurdity upon absurdity.

Labour and Nature collaborate in varying proportions, depending upon the country and the climate, in the production of a commodity. The part that Nature contributes is always free of charge; it is the part contributed by human labour that constitutes value and is paid for.

If an orange from Lisbon sells for half the price of an orange from Paris, it is because the natural heat of the sun, which is, of course, free of charge, does for the former what the latter owes to artificial heating, which necessarily has to be paid for in the market.

Thus, when an orange reaches us from Portugal, one can say that it is given to us half free of charge, or, in other words, at half price as compared with those from Paris.

Now, it is precisely on the basis of its being semigratuitous (pardon the word) that you maintain it should be barred. You ask: ``How can French labour withstand the competition of foreign labour when the former has to do all the work, whereas the latter has to do only half, the sun taking care of the rest?'' But if the fact that a product is half free of charge leads you to exclude it from competition, how can its being totally free of charge induce you to admit it into competition? Either you are not consistent, or you should, after excluding what is half free of charge as harmful to our domestic industry, exclude what is totally gratuitous with all the more reason and with twice the zeal.

To take another example: When a product — coal, iron, wheat, or textiles — comes to us from abroad, and when we can acquire it for less labour than if we produced it ourselves, the difference is a gratuitous gift that is conferred up on us. The size of this gift is proportionate to the extent of this difference. It is a quarter, a half, or three-quarters of the value of the product if the foreigner asks of us only three-quarters, one-half, or one-quarter as high a price. It is as complete as it can be when the donor, like the sun in providing us with light, asks nothing from us. The question, and we pose it formally, is whether what you desire for France is the benefit of consumption free of charge or the alleged advantages of onerous production. Make your choice, but be logical; for as long as you ban, as you do, foreign coal, iron, wheat, and textiles, in proportion as their price approaches zero, how inconsistent it would be to admit the light of the sun, whose price is zero all day long!

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), Sophismes économiques, 1845