Essential oils are everywhere, but not much thought is given to how they got there! The conscious consumer era is growing, with many people asking critical questions of the producers who make the products they use everyday. Essential oil is no different. Starting with growth and harvesting, there are many things to consider:
● Where was it grown?
● Do they use pesticides?
● Is it sustainably harvested?
● Are the workers/harvesters treated fairly and paid a living wage?
● How do they extract the essential oils?
Let’s face it – none of us are perfect consumers. We don’t always stop to ask these questions and sometimes, we can’t afford the higher price tags that come along with ethically and sustainably made products. The good news is that you don’t have to be a perfect consumer to be a conscious consumer. It starts with small changes and a little extra diligence!
Appalachian Botanical Co’s Lavender Essential Oil Journey
At ABCo, our journey from seedling to finished product looks a little different than most big name essential oil producers. Every step is intentional and has a vision beyond creating a little bottle of essential oil: We want to grow opportunity and community. Here is the complete journey behind every bottle of our 100% pure lavender essential oil.
Where is the lavender grown? Our lavender farm’s location was carefully chosen. Appalachian Botanical Co. is situated on reclaimed coal mine land in the heart of Appalachia, namely Ashford, West Virginia. The farm was created to be an opportunity not just for us as a company, but as a community in Appalachia. Post-use coal mine land has little value to traditional crop growers, but it has tremendous potential for lavender growers. Right now, we have 35 acres of land that are being put back to work to attract pollinators and contribute to Appalachia’s economy and botanical industry. We plan to expand this to 120 within the next couple of years!
Do you use pesticides? The only things we put into our products is sunshine, water, and care. We practice organic farming practices and intend to seek certified organic status. From seedling to bushel, our lavender plants are free of pesticides and harmful added ingredients.
Is it sustainably harvested? We are here for the long run! Our lavender plants can withstand a heavy harvest at the end of the season and still grow back the following year. On top of being great for our local climate, lavender is not at risk of being over-harvested as is the case with many plants used in essential oils, such as frankincense.
Are the workers/harvesters treated fairly and paid a living wage? We recognize that our workers are an integral part of our essential oils and our company as a whole. We also believe they should be compensated fairly. Our philosophy is rooted in the belief that we are all worthy of second chances. That’s why the only requirements to work on our farm are a willingness to learn and work hard and to be over the age of 18. We invest in our workers with time and training and ensure that they are paid a livable wage. Get to know the team on our social media!
How do you extract the essential oils? There are many different ways to extract essential oils. Some are better suited for hearty ingredients, such as citrus peel. However, delicate ingredients, such as lavender, require a gentle hand to effectively extract the oils. In our case, we partnered with a local West Virginian botanical distillery to extract the essential oils from our locally grown lavender. This method passes steam through the lavender plants releasing the aromatics. As the steam cools, the oils and water naturally separate from one another. Other methods use chemicals or animal fats to extract the oils, resulting in a less clean and less sustainable product. We consider distillation to be the only method of producing essential oils as pure as ours.
After distillation, our lavender essential oils are ready to be bottled and shipped out – no more fuss or additional ingredients are needed. To further our sustainability goals, we have also adopted a zero-waste process. Rather than keeping only the lavender buds and tossing out the rest, we dry the lavender stems for use in campfires or for smoking meats and fish! The hydrosol, a byproduct of lavender essential oil distillation, is collected and used in our lavender mist and hand sanitizers. These are much gentler than 100% pure essential oil and can be used directly on the skin and clothes while still depositing the gentle scent of lavender.
Essential oils are meant to be a clean, simple alternative to the many artificial fragrances on the market. Unfortunately, some companies try to take advantage of their popularity by offering sub-par products. We, however, put great care into making our lavender essential oil because it serves as the basis for many of the products in our store, like our lavender hand cream and lavender sage massage oil. At Appalachian Botanical Co., we are proud to represent our region by producing a pure lavender essential oil made with locally grown ingredients.