2018 Frankincense Oil Guide

What Are the Best Frankincense Oils?

Testing Criteria

Testing Criteria of Frankincense Oils

In order to recognize these oils to the highest standard, rigorous tests are required to ensure this quality grade oil. Through the tests that essential oil companies do in their laboratories or through a third party, we trust that their findings are correct. These tests include standards like Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, but also unique ones such as Light Refraction, Stability Testing and more. Oils are most pure from the source, but these tests help ensure that it stays that way.

There is no governing body or government organization that tests or categorizes these oils as such. CPTG, or Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, is the highest verification of purity we have found and trust. There are many different companies that coin their own quality standards. The one that we like the best is CPTG. We're finding that many companies are beginning to refer to CPTG as an industry standard.

Testing Essential Oils

After the plants have been harvested and the oil extracted through its process (steam distillation, cold pressing, etc.) testing them for purity is necessary to assure quality is not compromised. To assure that what is sold is the same thing that was produced by the plant, state-of-the-art technologies, coupled with their unrivaled innovation, companies know what they’re doing to improve the essential oil industry. Each of these tests provides unique insight into the oil’s purity, potency, and more. Let’s take a look at each test:

Organoleptic Assessments
– What are the color, appearance, and aroma of the oil? By hand, the members of the essential oil chemist, quality technician, and manufacturing engineer [different] teams check these important indicators of the oil’s composition. 

Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (GC/MS) – A test where the sample undergoes a separation of constituents in the oil to see which compounds are presently giving a graphical representation of each molecule’s weight and chemical properties. This helps ensure that each sample is consistent with the chemical profile. After the Mass Spectroscopy is finished, then the oil’s constituents are then ionized, sent through magnetic fields, and checked for potency. Both of these tests help ensure that there are no contaminants in the oil.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) - An infrared light shines through a sample of oil. That light travels to a mirror which reflects to a detector. This helps to validate the different frequencies of light absorption patterns compared with those of high-quality samples.

Optical Rotation or Chirality Testing – Testing the molecular structure by ensuring that there are no synthetic additives ruining the purity of the oil. Molecules produced in nature will produce mirror images of themselves. Often synthetically produced oil won't have the same distribution that nature produces. This test is essential for identifying synthetic additives.

Isotopic Testing – Each oil has certain elements that make up its composition. Due to the fact that essential oils are organic compounds, they make up certain isotopes (a stable existence of the same element to another.) These isotopic ratios vary from country to country, so ensuring the number of isotopes carries throughout the same location, helps the analyst see if there are adulterants or additives to the oil’s composition.

Contamination/Microbial Testing - Checking the oil for foreign contaminants goes a bit further as they inspect each oil through microscopes for total plate count, yeast, mold, salmonella, E. Coli and Pseudomonas (a type of bacteria.) Ensuring the oils are checked properly helps the buyer feel at ease.

Stability Testing – This test takes the oil through alternating humidity and temperature chambers, as well as different atmospheric conditions for extended periods of time. This helps to see that the oil is effective and safe for years to come.

Specific Gravity – This test verifies quality and purity by checking the volume-to-weight ratio to reference standards through the use of a Density Meter.

Refractive Index – Determining whether the refractive index or seeing how light spreads through the oil ensures that the standards have been met.

Heavy Metal Testing – Ionizing each sample after distillation is important for checking heavy metal amounts in the essential oil. Inductively Coupled Plasma, a very high-energy tool, ionizes the oil and then it is run through the Mass Spectroscopy to verify the constituents present and at what amount.

11 Tests Performed on Essential Oils

*Flash Point does not test quality.