Sunday, September 18, 2016

To fridge or not to fridge? That is the question.

I was asked twice this week about refrigeration of essential oils, specifically if there are any that should not be refrigerated.

My answer (compiled from different places that I responded:)
That depends on who you ask. Robert Tisserand suggests refrigerating all of them. We do not refrigerate the Roses because it causes them to crystalize. (ditto aniseed.) this can happen at cool room temperature, as well.  If it does, just sit the bottle in a cup of WARM water (think baby bath) for a few minutes to re-liquify. We don't like the idea of repeatedly heating an oil if we can avoid it, so we do not refrigerate those two. 

The "base note" oils, the long lasting woods, roots, and Patchouli all improve with age, so why would you want to prevent that? I would never refrigerate those. Again, cool room temperature and shielded from light and direct heat. 
A friend shared her EO storage refrigerator. Now, THIS is a serious user.  Most folks use an under counter/dorm sized box.

What SHOULD be refrigerated are the citrus rind oils, orange, mandarine, etc., and the conifers... the "needle oils"... pines, firs, spruces, etc. They are the two shortest lived categories so definitely benefit from refrigeration. As for all the oil in between... that is preference. If you are going to be using your oils within a reasonable time, then, you could refrigerate, but it's not necessary. If you know you have enough.. let's say Lavender, to last you for 10 years, yes, refrigerate it, and store it under nitrogen. But if you buy what you need and replace it with the next harvest, then it is truly personal choice. 

Something else, Lynette asked if any oils could be harmed by refrigeration. Thinking of how thick and "sticky" myrhh and vetiver can be... and if they were refrigerated...they would be.. think 'cold molasses." The shorter lived ones, and the Blue oils benefit by it though.  

OH.. another thought. the distiller of our beautiful Frankincense sacra suggested that I NOT refrigerate her. She says that WINTER for those trees is, perhaps 68 degrees Farenheit and the cold would shock the oil. the resins do not have a terribly long shelf life, so, again, perhaps best to buy what you will use in a year or two, and then repurchase. 

Regarding the Frankincense comment above.  Robert Tisserand was kind enough to join the discussion, and said that while Patchouli, for example, does  not need refrigeration, "I find the idea that Frankincense oil would be "shocked" by refrigeration a delightful one, but oils are not people. Any frankincense oil high in a-pinene or a-thujene needs cool temps to reduce oxidation."   (We are storing our bulk Sacra (and other Frankincense oils) under a layer of nitrogen to protect from oxidation.  You might want to consider both sides of this discussion in deciding how to store yours.)

Another thought. You can further protect the oils by NOT storing them in half full/half empty bottles. Decant those 15 ml bottles down to 5 or 2 mls as you use them up. that helps protect them against oxidation, which is their worst enemy. 

Another participant in the discussion reminded us to keep child safety in mind.  If you are storing your oils in your kitchen refrigerator, *please* store them in a locked safety box.  Children are used to food and beverages being in the refrigerator.   If you are able to get an under-counter or dorm sized fridge for your fragile oils, please consider padlocking it shut.  Your child or a visiting child's safety is worth the inconvenience.   

I love the questions we are asked!       

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top Ten List

After our Labor Day weekend sale we tracked our best selling products.  Some we expected, they are our standbys and always strong sellers. Others were surprises to us.  NICE surprises!

Thank you all for your support, and for loving our products!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Nasty nits in the hair?

We were asked, "Recommendations for oils that might be helpful in the battle against lice on a child's head?"

 Our immediate answer? "NEROLINA,  Melaleuca quinquenervia CT nerolidol... go read our product description. There is anecdotal evidence that it is a miticide, and it might be useful in a blend to combat head lice. Many Australian sources recommend adding it to a shampoo for “children’s hair problems.”

Since I gave that quick answer, Christi found the research that validates my comment, AND the use of Nerolina in products for "Children's Hair Problems."

Now, after reading that, I started looking at the math.  Because the study did not use Nerolina essential oil, it used nerolidol, the major component in Nerolina Essential Oil.  Our Nerolina has 47.5 nerolidol.  (See the GC of our current batch here.)

Quoting from the research citation above, "Tea tree oil was more effective than nerolidol against head lice with 100 % mortality at 30 min and 1 % concentration. On the contrary, nerolidol expressed a more pronounced ovicidal activity inducing the failure of 50 % of the eggs to hatch at 1 % concentration after 4 days; the same effect was achieved by using a twice concentration of tea tree oil. The association of the two substances both in ratios 1:1 and 1:2 combined efficaciously their insecticidal and ovicidal effect; in particular, the ratio 1:2 (tea tree oil 0.5 % plus nerolidol 1 %) acted producing both the death of all head lice at 30 min and the abortive effect of louse eggs after 5 days. These results offer new potential application of natural compounds and display a promising scenario in the treatment of pediculosis resistant cases. The development of novel pediculicides containing essential oils could be, in fact, an important tool to control the parasitic infestation."

What does this translate to for us, for our children and grandchildren?  It would appear that using twice the amount of Nerolina essential oil as the researchers used of Nerolidol should give the same amounts.    In other words,  the most effective blend in the research for both live head lice and eggs was a blend of 0.5% tea tree and 1% Nerolidol was the most effective.   And our Nerolina oil is almost 50% Nerolina.

What I would contemplate doing, if I were to try to protect one of  my grandchildren against headlice, or use a gentle treatment if they are present, is making a blend of  0.5% Tea Tree Essential Oil and  2% Nerolina Essentail Oil.    One half ml Tea Tree plus two mls Nerolina,  two and 1/2 mls total, blended into 97.5 mls unscented shampoo.

I would work the shampoo into dry hair, and if at all possible, let it stand for 20 minutes. Then I would rinse well.  (The reason for applying to dry hair?  Water will further dilute the mixture to an unknown level. I don't want to start out with an overly strong blend, so we will apply to dry hair and let stand.)

If the child's hair does well with a conditioner, I might add Nerolina at 2% to either a leave in or wash out conditioner.   It also might be an option to use either high proof ethanol or Solubol as a diluent, and add distilled water, and spray the hair daily between shampoos.

I hope you find this information useful.

A reminder, from our website, "Nature’s Gift Disclaimer: The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Our products are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or health care provider. The information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a health care provider, and should not be construed as individual medical advice."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

How we evaluate Essential Oils.

Recently on a Mondays with Marge, Karen asked, “Hi Marge, Today in a post someone mentioned the word "ORGANOLEPTIC" I found it quite possibly interesting but don't know much about it. How important is it? Just a general explanation? Thank you in advance, I am truly trying to understand a few things."

Our answer, “Karen, I am sure glad that you posted this 24 hours in advance. Gave us time to give a lot of thought to the answer (which will be coming soon to a blog post near you!) Of course, I can only speak for us. Others may disagree.

First of all... definition, from

Definition of "Organoleptic"

1 : being, affecting, or relating to qualities (as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance (as a food or drug) that stimulate the sense organs

2 : involving use of the sense organs

In our experience and our procedures, organoleptic testing is the FIRST test, the first hurdle, a new oil must pass.

We look at color. Is it what it should be? Is a "blue" oil a deep indigo.. or is it sort of greenish. A greenish tint MAY mean that it's old and oxidized.

The texture? If it is a vetiver, is it very thick, and sticky? On the other hand, if it's, let's say a Eucalyptus species... if that is thick, then there is something definitely wrong. It is probably old and oxidized.

Some people include taste. I don't. Personal preference. We should. I choose not to.

Most important of all is the aroma. Those who have sat in class or at conferences with me know I NEVER sniff an oil from the bottle; I believe you do not get the full aroma through an orifice reducer. (Please note, there are those who don't agree with me, that's okay, your mileage may vary.) So, first, I sniff the bottle cap... and that gets either an mmmmmmmmmmm, or a "what?????????" but that truly isn't a major part of the decision.

How we decide... we use scent strips. and dip the strip into the sample, and into the oil of the same species that we are currently offering, if at all possible. (sometimes Jim has to truly scrape the bottom of an empty pour bottle to get a comparison.) and then, we smell the scent strips. Three of us, Jim, Christi, and me. And sometimes Michelle because I love her descriptions.
Scent Strips of new Rose samples.
And that is where the fun begins. Because, when we smell those strips... there is a range of reactions. What we HOPE for. "OH, WONDERFUL"... an oil that is vibrant... that sparkles... that is EXACTLY what we want that oil to smell like.

And then there's the majority. "That's nice. it's what it should be. it's definitely (fill in the name of the oil.) And there's, "oh. what's WRONG with that?... it's too... too something. perhaps too sweet, or there's a bitter note that we weren't expecting, or... something jarring.

So, the FIRST hurdle a new specimen must pass is the organoleptic testing. Because if they fall into the third category, they don't belong here. I do NOT care what the gc/ms says, there is something off and I don't want to offer them.

and of course there are ranges, grades in between. Think of it as a spectrum... from one extreme to the other.

Now, our GOAL, and I think the goal of most of the suppliers I respect, is to have as many of those sparkling stars in their repertoire as possible. I would love to tell you that "all" the oils we offer are stars. That's the goal. But, in truth... NO single supplier offers the best of every oil. We try. A lot of us try. It's hard work and takes years of sourcing. The alternative is just picking a supplier or two and ordering all your oils from them. Some companies do that. I never saw the point. That takes the fun away. The joy of discovering.

I hope you see, now, the importance of "organoleptic testing" it isn't the be all and end all, but it's essential. ( pun intended!)

The situation gets complicated though. Because an oil can pass gc/ms analysis and still not be what we want. The organoleptic reaction is subjective. It helps if you love the oil, or the type of oil it is. It's hard to objectively evaluate an oil that you don't care for. (In years past I ordered the "least objectionable" Rosemary, because I truly disliked Rosemary. Others told me ours was stellar. I thanked them. It was "the least objectionable" which was the best I personally could do.)

Sometimes an oil is 'too good to be true." We have experienced that twice, The first time close to two decades ago, the second well over 10 years ago. In both cases my "too good to be true" alarm went off, and, after consulting with independent chemists, my suspicions were justified. The first was a "Rose Geranium"... that was a bit too floral. Come to find out it contained Phenylethelalcohol, which occurs in traces in Rose Otto, in high percentages in Rose Absolute, and not at ALL in Pelargonum species. Someone "boosted" the geranium to make it smell more "rosy"... and the scent balance was off. The next time was a so-called "Italian Neroli" which was sold as a distilled oil. Again, there was something... too good to be true about it. Come to find out it had some Orange Blossom Absolute added, to enrich the aroma. (This was a decade before suppliers normally had the oils we brought tested. We tested when we suspected a problem. And when I suspected a problem, I was correct.)

We have all three of us evaluate new oils and/or new samples, because we have, between us, 45 years of experience evaluating new oils. And we tend to agree. If I am not sure, I'll look to Christi or Jim to either confirm, or contradict me. We love different types of oils, so Christi is a better judge of the more medicinal oils, and she's not a good judge of the florals, for example. Jim will decant a sample or a new arrival downstairs, dip a scent strip and bring it up to us. And I KNOW, when Jim walks into the office with a big smile on his face, we have a winner.

There are times that we have made mistakes. Sometimes because we restocked without a sample. Sometimes because it was only after an oil had been in house for awhile that we realized it was not a good choice. Sometimes we return them. Some times we put them online with a comment that they are not the quality we like to offer, but the price is a bargain, and the analysis shows they are within spec. (I've been known to use the phrase "lacks the sparkle") Sometimes we find a soapmaker will be delighted to have them at a bargain price. And sometimes they go to Hazmat waste. It all depends on the specific oil, the specific situation.

Sometimes we come across a specimen that we absolutely love. That is the perfect example of what that product should be. And we can't offer it because people will not pay what it will cost us. We have a STUNNING sample of a Myrrh Hydrosol that will cost ten times the per ounce cost of any of the other hydrosols we bring in. We love it. We can't buy it for resale. We have had to decline some exotic roses that I loved. And we have declined every specimen of another rose that I would love to offer because every sample so far tests as adulterated. Even the ones that I thought smelled marvelous and passed all the organoleptic tests.

Now, sometimes a distiller whose selection normally "sparkles" will have a year that his crop is adequate, but only adequate. Bad weather does that. We do not abandon a trusted supplier. but some years the crops are better than others. We are DELIGHTED that we overstocked the 2014 rose otto... The 2015 rose harvest was a disaster, small yield and lackluster oil. We were able to pass. The producer congratulated me on stocking up the year before. But even an "adequate" oil is going to pass our organoleptic tests, and analytical testing as well. It just won't be the delight that we hoped it would be.

Sometimes we get several samples of the "same"oil and none of them are what we really want. Natural products are like that. We select the best out of the available options, and hope for better next year. Or, if none are "acceptable" we wait for better.

Then there's the times that we have offered an oil for a few years, and it's in our "okay" category. Solid but not exciting. And then we get a sample from a different producer. OH! You mean it can smell like THIS? And we fall in love! Those are the times that we are apt to overbuy because we fell in love. Thinking of Ironbark Eucalyptus... I had had samples from South America. Dull, flat, boring. No, we don't need to offer that. Then an Australian supplier sent me a sample. OH? It is supposed to be like THIS? Oh yes! And we've stocked it ever since. It's a star!

And then there's the recent sample of a rare and hard to find oil. the color was right. The first "sniff" smelled right, it had the sweetness we expected. Then we waited for the dry down. And, 10 minutes later, we were all looking at each other in puzzlement. What IS this? There was, to our noses, something "off," something “different” with that specimen, a bitterness, or astringency, on drydown. It reminded all three of us of a different oil, not what we were hoping for.

We chose not to order it. We see a lot of suppliers offering it. but we'd rather not. I have a sample coming in a few weeks from a source that I have purchased this oil from in the past. We'll wait. In the past, it was beautiful We hope this year’s will be, as well. Now, this oil came with proper 'documenation," a gc/ms that seems to be with scope. (This oil has a HUGE variation in accepted parameters.) But it failed "Organoleptic evaluation" ie, something didn't smell quite right to all three of us.

Given my druthers, when I am given a choice between a drop dead beautiful oil, and an 'acceptable' oil, I will buy the drop dead gorgeous oil every time. But there are some oils that...well, we have never experienced a "drop dead gorgeous" oil of...fill in the blank. We don't know if it exists. But the search goes on. We keep getting samples. And when we find it...we'll tell you, our Facebook friends, first! In the meantime, we will offer the "adequate" oil, within specs and not "wrong"...just not a star.

We had a French Petitgrain three or four years ago. IT was drop dead gorgeous. I had never experienced the like. We loved it. We only bought one kilo, because it was our first time. It was never produced again. So, the search goes on. Perhaps more from this producer will be available. Another example is Patchouli. Christi reminds me that our Sweet Patchouli from India, several years ago, was the best Patchouli ever. She's experienced probably more than 50 Patchouli's in her lifetime and we've never found one any better. But she loves all good Patchouli and she has approved all that we have ever offered. Does she like some better than others? Of course! :) And we reject a LOT of samples because Christi says "I don't think so."

Something else Christi reminded me... a quote from Depak Chopra:

"Finally, smell can have potent effect on our mind/body system. An aroma can trigger deep-seated memories in vivid ways that often surprise us. The olfactory nerve carries its information to the limbic part of the brain, which regulates behavior and emotions. Smell in the form of aromatherapy can be used to treat insomnia, depression and certain kinds of imbalances.

By treating the senses as the gateway to our own inner pharmacy, we tap into the most profound source of healing imaginable ­ our own consciousness. Think of the senses as portals through which we ingest the raw materials of our world and create our picture of reality. Our health depends on the positive input of our five senses as much as it does on nurturing food. What nourishes your soul nourishes your body. Take care to seek out moments of joy and beauty, which are the gifts that our senses continually provide."

And our goal is to select select essential oils that will give you “moments of joy and beauty.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Which Citrus???

"Which Citrus is safe for children/toddlers/babies?"

When you ask three times, I need to blog, so next time I can just send this link.

My immediate answer is "all of them ...... sorta"

How do you want to use the oil on your child, and why?

None of the citrus rind oils that Nature's Gift offers are contraindicated for children, per se.

Some are photo-sensitizers, and should not be used topically on anyone, adult or child, if they are going to be exposed to sunlight or ultra violet light.   These would include:
  • Bergamot (organic, expressed... STRONG Photosensitizer)
  • Lime - Expressed... again, a STRONG photosensitizer, not currently offered.)
  • Grapefruit Oil (expressed)
  • Lemon Oil (expressed)
  • Bitter Orange Oil (we don't offer this, currently)
  • Clementine Rind (Possibly photosensitizing, not currently offered.)
You would not use these topically on a child, or on yourself.  All are safe if diffused, however.

The remaining Citrus oils are NOT photosensitizers, and should not cause any risk of sun damage:
  •  Sweet and Blood Orange
  •  Red and Green Mandarine 
  • Tangerine 
  • Distilled Lime
  • Bergamot FCF.
 After reviewing all relevant safety information I can find no risk to babies or toddlers by the use of the listed "sunsafe" citrus oils  either by diffusion OR by very well diluted topical use.


Why are you contemplating using a citrus oil on or around an infant or a toddler?

The ONLY reason I can think of to diffuse any of the citrus oils around a baby or toddler would be the emotional effects. 

Let us look, for example, at my beloved Pink Grapefruit oil. In the diffuser, this is by far the most energizing essential oil that I know of.  NOW, does any toddler need MORE energy? Why on earth would you want to diffuse an energizing essential oil around a child?

Lemon Oil, while "chld safe" is also a mental stimulant. Again, why would you diffuse this around a very young child?  In a "tween's" study blend, of course, but not a baby or toddler. It's not a case of "safety" but of "appropriate use."

 The only Citrus oils I can see diffusing around an infant or toddler would be some of the most gentle spirit lifters. Sweet Orange has traditionally been recommended for use around toddlers and babies and, more recently, the Mandarines have also been recommended.  Any of these can help lighten the mood in a room when children are fractious, fussy, overtired, or picking up on a parent's stress.  (And they can help ease the adult's stress as well, solving both problems!)

I would see no difficulty in either diffusing them around even an infant. let alone a toddler or older child,  or using a very low dilution in a massage blend for a calming back rub.   I would not necessarily diffuse any of them in an infant's nursery, but I'd not be concerned about having the baby in a room where they are being diffused.

I personally don't like using the majority of Citrus oils topically because they tend to be drying. The best effects of the citrus oils are obtained by inhalation, so diffusion would be my preferred method.

Hope this helps a little bit.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Blue Tansy Quandary

"Are you going to be offering Blue Tansy this year?" When I am asked this question several times in a week, it's time to write about it.

And the answer, of course, is "I hope so!"

But it is not that simple. Last year we were unable to make it available.

A fairly well known US reseller has it in stock. We have seen others offering it, and of course requested a sample. The GC/MS appears to be within limits... in all honesty I can't tell, by looking at the analysis, compared to the analysis of the absolutely stunning oil we offered two years ago, what the significant differences are. This specimen is higher in Camphor, a bit lower in Chamazulene... and a LOT lower in some components both labeled dihydro-chamazulene isomers (different isomers) which are derived from the matricine that converts to chamazulene during distillation.. 

I don't know which of the minor components that is higher in this specimen then our our past specimens give this a different undernote, a different dry down,  than we have come to expect.

More specifically, I don't know what components in Blue Tansy give it its amazing anti-allergen properties.  It may be that this sample with its odd drydown will give marvelous anti-allergen effects. Or not.

But there is something "different" about has the sweet top note I expect, but there''s a bitter undernote that makes me think of, perhaps, Yarrow... more astringent than the Tanecetuum (Tanacetuum annuum) ought to be... Christi loves Blue Tansy, uses a LOT of it, and has declined to take this sample home. That says something significant.

My French supplier anticipates having a new crop of Blue Tansy in stock at the end of September. We have chosen to gamble, and not to order what is currently available.

I trust we have chosen wisely. I just don't think what I've been offered is what you expect from Nature's Gift, and I'd rather wait, in hopes of matching the quality of the superb oil we had two and three years ago, than offer something that I know is not what we had hoped.

Waiting, with fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

New vs. Old

We have received several questions about our new bottles.  The supplier that we have used for at least a dozen years occassionally changes their suppliers.   They changed their 15 ml cobalt bottles a few months ago, and we have just recently started using the "new" ones.
New (left) Old (right)

The new bottles are visibly taller and a bit slimmer.  (They are also straighter. The older ones had an almost imperceptible bow which made applying labels a challenge!)    Several people have questioned whether the new bottles hold as much.

The answer is yes!  Because we no longer pour "by eye" to some imaginary fill line on the bottles.  We use laboratory pipettors to precisely measure the quantity dispersed in each bottle.  

Scary looking gizmo!  Michelle uses these most often.  the large plastic (disposable) vessel on the end holds perhaps 4 ounces (or 100 mls? I forget!) of essential oil.  The process? Insert the point in the beaker of essential oils, fill to capacity.  Release measured, metered quantities of the essential oil into the bottles. The larger tip measures out 5 and 7.5 ml. Five mls for the 5  ml bottles. A double dose of 7.5 mls for the 15 ml bottles.    There is a smaller tip that is used for filling the 2 ml bottles and sample vials. Because of that, I can tell you that our free samples, the ones poured en masse, for our sampler packs, hold 1/2 ml of essential oil or carrier.

Obviously these dispensers don't work for the very thick oils, Vetiver, etc. We wish they did! 

One of these days we'll get a video of Michelle filling, capping, and labeling the bottles, then you'll see the whole process.

In case you were wondering...