What is Lavender 40/42 Essential Oil?
Lavender 40/42 is a standardized essential oil, meaning it should consistently have the same aroma. This is important to manufacturers of soaps, candles and toiletries. They’re looking for a “consistent” aroma. But there is a catch for this all this consistency…
It’s important to understand the process used to create Lavender 40/42 so you can decide if it’s the best option for you.
WHAT DOES 40/42 MEAN?
Lavender 40/42 is a guarantee that the components of ratio of linalyl acetate and linalol will be in set, specified percentages to create the desired, consistent aroma. In order to accomplish this, natural lavender or lavandin is
made into lavender 40/42 by adding synthetic linalol or synthetic linalyl acetate.
The other terminology to explain this lab process is “nature identical”. However, be aware that this is a different way of saying it’s a synthetic. It’s a chemical composition created in a lab to mimic the original “natural” component.
Some claim that Lavender 40/42 is blended from different lavender species: Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula hybrida, Lavandula latifolia, Lavendula stoechas. This response from Robert Tisserand, one of the world’s leading experts in aromatherapy, clearly explains why this is not possible:
“Let me suggest one possible reason why someone might be suspicious of “Lavender 40/42”. If it is a blend of the four species you list (and these are the only lavenders that are produced on a commercial scale) then I do not see how either 40% linalool or 42% linalyl acetate could be attained without adding extra linalool and linalyl acetate. The maximum percent for linalool in these oils is 45% (angustifolia) 28% (hybrida) 43% (latifolia) and 2% (stoechas). The equivalents for linalyl acetate are 46%, 38%, 1% and 1%. Note that these are maximums, not averages. Therefore, such a blend would need to consist almost entirely of angustifolia, making the much cheaper price of the 40/42 oil unrealistic.”
If you want a completely natural lavender what should you do? First, avoid Lavender 40/42, since as we’ve learned it most likely contains synthetics. Instead, look for Latin names lavandula angustifolia or lavandula officinalis. Natural lavender chemical component proportions will vary from crop to crop and harvest to harvest.
As one aromatherapist put it, “The trouble is, Mother Nature doesn’t grow ’em that way (consistent year after year). In a natural, straight from the garden, steam distilled essential oil of lavender, odds are the percentage of chemical constituents will vary every season, providing a slightly different essential oil each year. ”
We like it that each batch of natural lavender oil smells a little bit different. Mother Nature is never boring!
So unless you are a manufacturer, more concerned with maintaining an exact aroma than with therapeutic properties and values, we recommend you avoid Lavender 40/42. Open a bottle of natural lavender essential oil instead and enjoy what nature has to offer you!
Would you like to learn more about essential oils – like where they come from, how they’re made and how to make your own special blends? Simply download our free ebook, Listen to Your Nose – An Introduction to Aromatherapy.