- 30 April 2021
There are many requirements in order to use essential oils in a manufacturing process.
Using essential oils in flavour formulation, perfume compounding or cosmetics should not induce any defect in the finished product. Therefore, it’s « essential » to respect several quality control processes.
This guide will give you the key points to understand the price variations on the market and how they can impact the inner quality of the product. Thus you will be able to choose the most suitable essential oil and avoid unpleasant surprises and additional costs.
1/ Essential oils ready to use
2 key steps should be followed to turn a raw essential oil into a high quality one: an oil at the right price and ready to use.
Most essential oils are obtained by steam distillation. During this production process, the essence mixes with the steam which, after condensation, gives back water. If, in the essencier, a first split by gravitational decantation occurs, it is frequent to find variable remaining water particles in the crude essential oils obtained.
An additional treatment is therefore necessary before being able to offer an essential oil compatible with industrial implementation. The operation is called decantation.
Unsatisfactory process, the consequences
The consequences of no further or imperfect decantation can be significant:
The water content classically found in crude essential oils at production ranges from 0.5 to 5% water. Therefore 0.5 to 5% of water can be purchased at the price of essential oils.
A high water content will make it impossible to process the essential oil without reprocessing. Such surprises are not uncommon on production lines.
The essential oils transportation stimulate decantation (micro-emulsions) under the effect of temperature variations and vibrations. It is therefore mandatory to efficiently pre-treat raw essences before shipping.
The resulting disruptions to production schedules have a serious impact on the organization and generate hidden costs that are often significant.
Essential oils are produced from plants, either coming from wild picking or from crops. This is why a raw essence can contain particles of earth, dust, vegetable particles and waxes. An efficient filtration will eliminate these particles to guarantee limpid formulas in the finished products.
Poor filtration, the impacts
An essential oil still loaded with particles when processed of use will force production operators to perform emergency filtration before use. This issue occurs usually outside the normal manufacturing process, generating organizational disruptions and additional manufacturing costs.
2 / Premium ingredient = quality finished product
The price of essential oils is a powerful decision factor for the buyer, which can lead to risks of qualities adulteration. The regulatory stakes for the market operator are very high. A bad quality can have an influence on your image and reputation.
Knowledge of the agricultural sector
Cut out intermediaries
Ensuring the quality of essential oils in such a context requires technical know-how and regular monitoring of producers. The knowledge of farmers and producers, the elimination of intermediaries are key points of quality control...
Better fight against fraud
Control technicians are trained and qualified detectives who track down clues and traces left by fraudsters beyond the levels of standardized constituents (which are often compliant). A technician in direct contact with the agricultural world will be able to understand better the various problems and to carry out the most relevant analysis.
Profiles et standards
Essential oils are natural products. They are variable by nature, but they must have a specific olfactory and gustatory profile and comply with strict analytical standards.
As essential oils are often sought after for their aromatic or perfuming functions, it is important to be able to smooth out the natural variations observed on several batches of plants during a harvest.
Physico-chemical, chromatographic and pesticide controls are carried out on essential oils to ensure their conformity according to control plans specific to each essence. An analysis report delivered with the product gives an account of this conformity including a DDM (date of minimum durability).
Control costs are rising
The cost of the analytical control of essential oils increases regularly with the reinforcement of the regulatory constraints. From about 100€/batch for the simplest control plans, we can approach 1 000€/batch for control plans integrating specific analyses (pesticides, dosages of particular constituents...). The consequences for an industrial user become major. The global purchasing costs increase with the number of samples to be analyzed.
Being able to rely on a partner, who is able to guarantee the quality of the products through a complete set of documents, becomes crucial. It’s important to take into account both the cost of the material purchased and that of the related analysis provided.
3/ Raw materials: packaging = major challenge
We are going to « wrap our head around » the importance of the packaging in the process.
The packaging that will contain the essential oil is a major point of its qualitative stability over time. It must avoid:
- Any loss of material during transport and storage
- Any external pollution
- Limit the interaction between the oil and the oxygen from the air.
Avoid any reactions between the container and the essential oil. Indeed, some oils are powerful solvents and contain corrosive constituents.
The packaging must be of good quality, adapted to the essential oil selected and to the volume to be packaged in order not to trap too much air.
Repacking is sometimes necessary
Many essential oil production areas do not have the access to quality packaging. A quality control at reception must be carried out as well as a repackaging in new and qualified packaging (alimentarity, harmlessness...).
The importance of new containers
The use of recycled packaging is a major cause of cross-pollution with vegetable oils, fuels, chemical constituents, pesticides.
Packages must be sealed with tamper-evident capsules that ensure the tightness and integrity of the contents. These points are decisive in the food (food safety and food defense) and pharmaceutical fields.
To sum up
The essential oils industry has improved considerably in recent years under economy and regulations pressures. Transparency, traceability, cost and quality control are the buyers requirements. Today, suppliers must bring services far beyond the sale of raw materials.
The true cost of essential oils is a compromise between the cost and quality of the product on the one hand and the cost and quality of associated services on the other hand. A global vision is crucial.
Elixens respond to the 3 keys points from this article. In addition, we benefit from a rare agricultural know-how acquired through our Dauphiné-Provence sector, which allows us to offer you products with exceptional organoleptic properties and optimal quality.
A partnership with Elixens guarantees you:
- Agricultural and industrial performance
- A turnkey service at a fair cost
- A safe way to promote your brand