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As aromatherapy blossoms in popularity, many are questioning whether the vendors they trusted really are selling pure, unadulterated, high quality oils. There have even been a couple of rounds of fundraising initiated to put company’s oils to the test. The money raised pays for independent testing of a company’s oils and contributors can elect the companies they want tested (scroll down for links if you want to see more). I address the issue of finding quality essential oils in another post but I want to focus on one metric here—is the price too good to be true?
The impetus for this article is that several bestselling essential oils on Amazon.com fall into the category of prices too low to be true. I am not going to call them out by name, but rather I am giving you a table of common essential oils along with pricing data so you can make your own decision.
How did I arrive at pricing data?
For each oil in this table, I looked at 3 representative wholesaler’s sites. I picked one wholesaler that had very low prices, one wholesaler that has decent quality oils, and one wholesaler with high quality oils. My decision of what wholesaler’s to pick was subjective but highly based on reputation in the industry and availability of larger bulk quantities. Furthermore, when I speak of a wholesaler carrying quality oils I am referring to high quality oils for aromatherapy purposes, not for scenting soaps or lotions.
Pricing data is based on bulk prices for 25 lbs. In cases where the supplier did not offer 25 lb. sizes, I used the largest volume that they offered. I give each price in a price per ounce as well as a price per 4 oz. This is because many of the suspect oils I see are offered in 4 oz. sizes. Price does not include shipping from wholesaler to retailer.
Not every wholesaler offers large bulk quantities like those compared here which limits the ability to compare apples to apples. Wherever possible I tried to compare similar oils from similar regions but that was not possible across the board. The idea of this chart is to give you a reference point when buying retail oils. If the price is close to or below wholesale, question it! All oils in this chart are conventional (not organic or wildcrafted).
What else affects price?
The prices in the table are for essential oils only. Packaging in bulk will run about .25 to .65 per bottle not including labels, which would add a few cents. Selling on platforms like Ebay or Amazon is expensive. Ebay and Paypal will take roughly 15% of the total sales and shipping price. Amazon takes 15% of the sales price, and if they fulfill the order that would add roughly another $ 3.50 per bottle. If Amazon fulfills the order, the company will also have paid to ship their product to Amazon’s warehouse.
One best selling 4 oz. bottle of Lavender oil sells for just under $14. Amazon’s fees are about $4.75. Add the cost of the bottle and the expenses are a little over $5. This means that to break even, the oil can’t be any more than $9 wholesale for 4 oz. If the company want to make a profit, their wholesale cost needs to be less. I think you can see from the chart above where this oil might fall on the quality spectrum.
Examples of how to use this table:
One best selling 4 oz. bottle of Lavender oil sells for just under $14. Amazon’s fees are about $4.75. Add the cost of the bottle and the expenses are a little over $5. This means that to break even, the oil can’t be any more than $9 wholesale for 4 oz. If the company wants to make a profit, their wholesale cost needs to be less. I think you can see from the chart above where this oil might fall on the quality spectrum.
Tea tree essential oil is also very popular in 4 oz. sizes. From our chart, we see that the price for 4 ounces is roughly 10.00. Packaging and labeling adds .50 cents for a total cost of about $10.50.
On Amazon, a popular Tea Tree oil retails for about $12 for 4 oz. It is fulfilled by Amazon. Estimated Amazon fees for this product are $4.50 (calculated using an Amazon fee estimator). This leaves the company with 7.50 for cost of the product and their profit. Too good to be true? I think so.
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