The Lavender Association of Western Colorado has been saying for quite some time, that Lavender in Colorado will yield the same quality of essential oil as other cultivars. Lavender growers were hopeful.

My favorite essential oil company has chosen only French and Bulgarian lavender because not all plants are created equal; therefore their essential oils are not equal either.  It has been proven time and time again, that where a plant grows has EVERYTHING to do with it’s Essential Oil chemical profile and quality.  The chemical components that make up an essential oil is what makes it effective in our bodies. Effectiveness is completely dependent on chemistry, and chemistry does not lie. If those components are missing or too low, the essential oil will not work, and often will not meet even the low-set AFNOR and ISO standards.  Read more about  the quality standard that I trust.

Multiple people who grow Lavender in Colorado continue to say, “our Essential Oil is just as good.” And, they set out to prove this.  The numbers were not published, but based on the article, the results were clearly a disappointment.

Curtis Swift Ph.D (Lavender farmer and researcher) writes: “Sean tested 26 cultivars of lavender and Lavandin; the Colorado trials tested 10. Neither of these projects were able to identify a lavender essential oil (e.o.) that matched what the International Standards say they should be. E.O. of lavender is expected to contain 40 percent linalool and 42 percent linalyl acetate. This standardized oil should have the same aroma every time you purchase it. Such an oil obviously doesn’t exist in nature. Thus to achieve this level of aroma, linalool and/or linalyl acetate must be added to make the e.o. comply with the standard. ”

First, ISO requires linalool to be 25-38% and linalyl acetate 25-45%.  Although, a 40/42 is quite rare, it is not impossible. But, be aware, that just because an essential oil may meet the ISO standard, it does not necessarily mean it is of high quality for therapeutic purposes.  From Dr. Swifts writing, one can assume that the oils tested didn’t even come close.  And to assert that any oil that “meets” these standards must have been adulterated is an improper accusation.

Dr. Robert Pappas of Essential Oil University has tested hundreds of lavenders (not just 26 and 10 as were tested above) and has proven that a sufficient and therapeutic level of linalool and linalyl acetate DOES exist in nature.  It’s just very difficult to find in the USA.  Which is why my favorite brand only uses French and Bulgarian Lavender.  Their lavender typically runs around 28-32% linalool and 35-40% linalyl acetate.

The USA cultivars just cannot provide a CONSISTENT profile that meets standards. Only 1 of the USA cultivars came close to the ISO standard.

Cultivar Country % Linalool % Linalyl Acetate Meets ISO
USA 9.71 56.6 No
USA 46.76 7.46 No
USA 6.31 54.68 No
USA 50.52 9.08 No
USA 10.06 35.94 No
USA, Compacta Cultivar 20.23 32.63 Yes
France (4) 37.3 38.5 Yes
France (3) 31.5 40.72 Yes
Fance (2b) 44.44 22.04 Yes
Bulgaria 32.82 41.63 Yes

You can see all these profiles at The Bulgarian profile is here:

Notice how completely different every lavender oil was based on the different cultivar (country it was grown.)  For me, when I want an Essential Oil for therapeutic purposes, I will continue to trust my favorite brand.  The scientific board has spent thousands of hours researching and testing essential oils, their components, and what habitat will yield the highest quality EO with the appropriate chemical profile.

Also, another blogger wrote this article, and it explains ISO/AFNOR quite well.  Worth a read:

In defense of Colorado Lavender.  It smells lovely. Sweet and delicious.  It’s amazing for baking Lavender cookies, and creating soaps, and lotions.  When freshly harvested and put in a bunch and hung to dry, it’s quite inviting, and one must have a lot of self control not to just tear it down and roll in it.  It’s a wonderful scent, but clearly will not result in a therapeutic essential oil.  I’m sorry Western Colorado.

If you’ve purchased a low quality essential oil from the supermarket or another company, and it didn’t work for you, please give essential oils another try.  It’s not that essential oils are not effective.  You simply got one that was grown in the wrong place, by a company that never tested the chemical profile.  When you choose the same brand I do, you will get a consistent essential oil with the right chemical profile to provide the effectiveness you desire- every single time.