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How to Find the Best Essential Oil Suppliers (& Who to Avoid)

soap science and info
essential oil bottle with rose petals

Curious about where you can find quality essential oils to get started on using natural fragrances in your soapmaking and bath and body products? I've got you covered! Here's how to find the best essential oil suppliers.

If you are looking for more information about using essential oils in soapmaking, I've written about my top ten essential oil recommendations to start with (+ blends using them), recommended usage rates and how to calculate the proper usage rate for your products, the safe handling and storage of essential oils, things you should know about using them in soapmaking, and a hit list of other industry leaders' favorite essential oils to stock up on.

Want to dive deep and learn everything about using essential oils in soap and cosmetics in one place? Well, I wrote the book on that! Snag your copy of Smellgoods: How to Use & Blend Essential Oils in Handmade Soap & Skincare

When you are looking for where to buy essential oils, you probably want the best bang for your buck (who doesn't?!) - especially if you have a business to run! One of the major struggles soapmakers encounter when first buying essential oils is not knowing what to look for.

Selecting the "Right" Essential Oils Before You Stock Up

First up, you want to make sure to compare apples to apples, and not apples to oranges! When selecting essential oils, you should know the botanical name of the essential oil and the country of origin.

Using a generic name like eucalyptus or lavender is not a strong enough identifier when selecting and using essential oils. All essential oils should carry their botanical name, which is the Latin name of the species of the plant from which the essential oil is extracted.

In the case of eucalyptus essential oil, there are numerous varieties and each one smells differently. The most common is Eucalyptus globulus essential oil which is highly camphorous but not overly so, and is most often the eucalyptus that comes to mind when referring to the oil by its common generic name. Other types of eucalyptus include Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus dives, and more. Some of them have more prominent citrus notes while others are more woodsy.

In some cases, the country of origin can also greatly affect the final fragrance of an essential oil. This is partly due to the climate and soil conditions that can affect the plant's oil production. Other factors that can come into play are the cultivation practices, post-harvest handling, and altitude of the harvest and processing among other factors.

For this reason, I tend to purchase essential oils by first their botanical name, and then their country of origin. If possible, I consistently purchase the same specific species of essential oil from the same country from the same supplier.

It's even better when you have a Certificate of Analysis or Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometry Report to go by!

Essential oils contain tons of individual naturally occurring chemicals, often referred to as constituents. Each individual component influences the aromatic quality and smell of each essential oil.

The best essential oil suppliers will often have a certificate of analysis (CoA) available. A CoA is a document that shows the results of testing an essential oil against a set of parameters. They often detail at least the dominant constituent of an essential oil, and are helpful for comparing essential oils for fragrance purposes.

Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) reports are even more detailed than CoA, usually, and are often referred to as fingerprints of a particular batch of essential oil. Here's an example from Stillpoint Aromatics:

GC/MS Report of Clove Bud Essential Oil from Stillpoint Aromatics

If a supplier gives access to CoA or GC/MS analysis, take advantage! Learn about the scent contributions of each constituent of an essential oil to identify what varieties and sources of an essential oil you prefer. You can also use CoA or GC/MS information to compare essential oils from crop to crop to find the most consistent scent profile before purchasing.

When creating the essential oil profiles in our essential oil usage rate calculator, each essential oil profile was created from a sample of actual GC/MS analyses performed on essential oils that have entered the marketplace, GC/MS analyses from scientific literature and studies, and reputable research sources, such as Tisserand’s Essential Oil Safety.

Evaluating a Supplier Before You Place an Order

It's important to build relationships with your suppliers, and essential oil suppliers are no different! Here's some things you may want to do before settling on the best essential oil suppliers for you:

  • Find out how the supplier stores their essential oils, and fulfills orders. Just as you should have proper storage protocols in place, they should, too!
  • Check to see if the supplier batch numbers their lots of essential oils, or if the date of distillation is available. This will help you better evaluate shelf life, once it's in your hands.
  • Ask if GC/MS reports are available for the essential oils you would be purchasing. Find out if the reports are run on every batch of essential oil, just some batches, or if they have a system in place to meet defined internal quality standards. Not having GC/MS reports available doesn't mean the essential oils are bad quality for soapmaking, but there should be quality control standards in place. (For instance, a general soapmaking supply company may not be able to afford GC/MS testing on one category of product they carry.)
  • Find out if the supplier distills their own essential oils, if they deal directly with distillers, or if they purchase their stock from a company who does. There's nothing wrong with being down the supply chain, if you can trust the chain!
  • Check to see if the supplier offers or sells small samples so you can get your nose on the essential oils! Compare samples from various suppliers, even if you are a beginner. Your nose knows, I promise. This is the perfect way to start getting acquainted with various essential oils, too!

I personally am not as picky about essential oils used in soapmaking as I am when purchasing essential oils for perfumery or leave-on products. You can be as picky as you'd like, but be aware that a supplier who distills their own essential oils, performs extensive testing, etc., is likely to have far more overhead to account for in their pricing. Decide what is important to you, and choose the best essential oil suppliers for you using those criteria.

Where You Shouldn't Buy Essential Oils

Before we move on to where to buy essential oils (oh, yes), I want to talk about places to avoid. If you are new to essential oils, you may be tempted to pick up the tiny 15 mL and 30 mL bottles of essential oils found at health and natural food stores. Please, save that cash!

Those types of stores are not the best essential oil suppliers for soapmakers. Their essential oils are  marketed to consumers - not formulators! They may be diluted or adulterated, and they sit on a shelf 24/7, being exposed to light and fluctuating temperatures. Plus, they're really expensive when compared to purchasing directly from a supplier.

For instance, a small 15 mL (approximately half an ounce) bottle of lavender essential oil at a local health food store is $12. Off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of suppliers where you can spend $12 and receive at least three to four times that amount of essential oil for the same price. Plus, when purchasing from a supplier, you can find out if it was stored properly or how old the essential oil actually is!

I also don't recommend purchasing essential oils from multi-level marketing companies (such as DoTerra, Young Living, etc.) for use in soapmaking, as it would be ridiculously cost prohibitive.

Where To Buy Essential Oils Instead!

Now you know what to check before you buy and where not to buy, so how about we talk about where to buy essential oils instead?! Yesssssss. My goal with listing where to buy essential oils is to provide you with a lot of options, so you can do your own research. You might be more selective than I am about essential oils for soapmaking, or you may want to shop around for lower prices - it's up to you!

Disclaimer: I live in the United States, so the list of American suppliers is going to be the most robust list. I do not have personal experience with every single supplier on this list - that would be quite the feat!

If you aren't in the US, I have a few options below for other countries. Be aware that I have absolutely no personal experience with foreign suppliers, and am sharing what other other soapmakers have recommended.

Please read the comments down below the list, there are a lot of additional recommendations and also some reviews!

Where to Buy Essential Oils in U.S.A

Where to Buy Essential Oils in Canada

Where to Buy Essential Oils in Europe

United Kingdom

Where to Buy Essential Oils in Australia & New Zealand

Do you have an essential oil supplier that you know & love that's not on the list? Leave a comment below and give them a shoutout!

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